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Rising Stars: Meet David Stewart Klein

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Stewart Klein.

Thank you again for the opportunity!

Hi David, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Queens, New York by two accomplished classical musicians who encouraged me to find what I loved and express myself the best way I could. I started drawing when I was three years old, and I’m about 30 years old now. I have not stopped drawing or painting since!

At first, it was just something I felt an urge to do and more of a natural talent. It wasn’t until middle school at the age of 11 that I really knew, with great intention that I wanted to make it seriously in the art field. At first, that meant comic books. I was being mentored by a local comic book artist who worked for Image comics in the 90’s, Christian Torres. He and others around me believing in me and my drive got me farther into my artistic vision to develop and refine my skill set.

By the time I was in high school, my parents had moved me out to L.A. so I continued on this path until my junior year when Otis College of Art and Design picked me to join their Young Artist program.

While I was in college, I was hungry to try as many types of art-making as possible but eventually settled in oil painting.

Near the end of my second year of college(2011), my restlessness to start getting my art into a more professional environment had peaked and I began my Exhibiting career. I did everything I could to make as much quality work as I could and have art ready to show people, and I got the interest of local gallery owners and curators of events. In one year(age 20-21), I worked my way into being a part of 32 art exhibitions.

It was really important that I had a strong support group at the time, and I feel that same way now, ten years later. I am currently having my 100th exhibition(since moving to Los Angeles) up at the TAG Gallery, and it is my 3rd solo show. It’s titled: A Beautiful Chaos. It took over a year to come up with this body of work, which are narrative paintings and portraits detailing my experiences over the pandemic.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It hasn’t been smooth at all. I’ve been disappointed, rejected, put down, ignored, and more by teachers, professionals and colleagues. It’s not a career for the faint of heart and it’s one that makes you quite vulnerable. I think one of the hardest parts was becoming jaded for a long time and not feeling the passion. I eventually realized I had to find it again through continuing to work and finding new things to drive me but also reconnecting with my roots, as you can’t get away from where you come from. Once you realize that other’s opinions are just as powerful as you let them become, thats when you become stronger. You have to really believe in the value of what you do creatively and professionally.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I specialize in oil painting/acrylics and drawing in most all mediums. I’m known for making paintings and drawings that are emotive and capture elements of human beings that are often overlooked. I make portraits and narratives that aren’t always meant to be “beautiful” on the surface, instead they capture despair and hope and everything in between.

I recently created a body of work that detailed elements of living through the pandemic in which I made two paintings I’m particularly proud of. One is mural like in size(10′ x 6′) and depicts a deep and spiritual connection of the family unit in different phases of the life cycle, including birth and death. The other captures the total chaos of living through “Summer 2020” with masks flying on the streets, rioters, and cops battling it out. It was designed to be as overwhelming as I felt and most of the nation felt it was when we all felt thrusted to pick a side even while stuck inside our homes.

I think what sets me apart is I in my approach: observation through empathy and intuition mixed with my set of stylistic elements. My artwork portrays humanity in all of its dimensions even the ones we don’t like to see. I stylistically mix comic books with Van Gogh and street art, essentially, But thats what I see, people can see whatever they want in visual art.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I think the art world is always changing. It’s a big snowball, and it’s just running endlessly on top of the globe absorbing as much cultural, experiential information and expressing it in unique, beautiful, off-putting ways. Every decade is different and yet it just keeps building on the last. If you pay enough attention to history, things make sense in the bigger picture as globalization continues and also belief systems spread and shift. Digital is the way now, but that won’t stop us who like to touch and work with our hands.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Photos: Lucious Peterson, La Art Documents, Art photos courtesy of the artist.

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