Four years ago, Kyle Brightside quit his job in event management on a whim and decided to pursue his passion for art, despite the fact that he failed art class at school. These days, the self-taught Melbourne artist spends his days painting vibrant large format canvases and murals, as well as skateboard and furboard art, inspired by the California surf and skate culture of the '80s and '90s.
Where did the name “BrightSide” come from?
BrightSide has been around me for ages. I don’t even remember the original attraction to the name to be honest, but the way I see it, everything has a bright side, or a silver lining. Whether it’s a challenge, opportunity, something good or something bad; everything has a purpose. For me, BrightSide is about finding the positive in the moment. Plus, it works with my style of bright, bold and fun art.
How did BrightSide come about?
I actually failed art class in high school, and pretty much shut myself off to the idea of a creative career because of that. I was working as an event manager for major events, and I slowly started getting back into art as a release. I started off by painting old surfboards and skateboards I’d find on the side of the road during junk collections, and then I started selling them as a bit of fun to pay for more art supplies.
One day I was sitting in my office, staring out the window, and I had an epiphany. I realised I was becoming one of those people who hated Mondays and ‘lived for the weekend’. I felt like I was missing out on life. It was like a slap in the face for me to be scared that I was stuck in a job I didn’t love. So, I quit and put all of my focus into my art and learning as much as I could.
Was it a smooth transition into doing your own thing?
The first couple of years were hard. I didn’t realise how hard this shit would be! But at the same time, I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I followed that direction. With a lot of hard work, persistence and effort, things slowly started falling into place. I found my style of art that makes me go “fuck yeah!” and I just kept pushing it out. People started vibing it and since then I’ve made some really cool connections and friends around the world because of my art. Every day I feel like I’m actually getting to live a life I really enjoy.
@j.aida / photo: @jwc.image
What’s your art studio like?
It’s my creative heaven! My studio is organised chaos with a small corner dedicated to the admin side of the business. I have a couch where I do a heap of my digital artwork and then the back half of the studio is all about painting! I’ve put a big communal table in the middle and I have various projects happening along the wall space.
I’m super lucky to be part of a new creative collective in South-East Melbourne and have my studio in a big warehouse shared with a tattoo studio across the hall, a great little cafe downstairs, designers, a photographer, a mate that builds and repairs guitars, and a showroom for a promotional merchandise business. It’s a super fun, collaborative space.
I love it because as a collective we’ve got cool plans to offer art supplies, workshops and host free art nights for other creatives to come along to and just enjoy connecting with each other! We are all big on collaborating and building each other up in our respective areas of expertise, so it’s really the perfect environment to be creative.
@josh_irvine86 / photo: @wheres_mitch
What materials do you use to create your pieces?
I mostly use acrylic paints and brushes for my large-scale canvas art. I love to mix all my colours differently for each artwork so it won’t look the same as any other pieces. I love to work with Molotow Paint Markers for my skateboard and surfboard artworks. And my big murals are mostly done with acrylic paint, brushes and a bit of spray paints. All my digital art is created on my iPad in Procreate and I’m teaching myself the ins-and-outs of Adobe Illustrator as well.
What was your inspiration for mixing photographs and drawings?
It started out when I went and saw the KAWS exhibit at the NGV and his story was basically taking bus shelter advertisement posters out of the cases, painting his characters & art over them and putting the advert back. I loved the simplicity of it and how it shows his artwork integrated into our everyday life.
I basically started out just giving it a try as a new creative outlet and that lead me down the rabbit hole of Instagram and finding some really cool photographers and models around Australia who were happy to let me print out their photos on A0 sized paper to paint my art over. I loved collaborating with them and throwing around different photos and ideas and creating these new artworks. The more I’ve been chatting to models & photographers the more I’ve gained huge appreciation into the creative expression behind both crafts and lately I’ve been trying to build on that vibe, adding artwork that compliments the model’s personality or the energy from the photo.
@maddy_woodroff / photo: @jwc.image
What inspires you to create?
How long have you got? I’m almost always in some state of inspiration and I’m super grateful for it – I know how hard some artists and creatives find it to be inspired.
My inspiration comes from so many things: the skate/surf culture I grew up in, music, being in nature and the ocean ground me and clear my head. I’m big one for colours too, a lot of my artwork is created around a certain colour palette. Photographers and models who create cool stuff, and places like Venice Beach in Los Angeles that have such a vibe to them are big to draw out my inspiration. And lately, I’ve been reading heaps about Kobe Bryant and his Mamba mentality and that work ethic and it’s a huge inspiration.
So many things inspire me! But a great little trick that really worked for me, and for anyone struggling with finding inspiration – always work through it! Don’t wait for inspiration to “show up”, create regardless, even if it feels forced or like it’s not working: keep writing, making music, drawing, whatever. Just keep on creating and your inspiration will come to you. You just have to work for it!
Who would you say are your biggest artistic influences?
I started painting because I loved the skateboard graphics from brands I grew up with like Santa Cruz, Flip and World Industries, for example. Artists that really paved the way for surf/skate graphics like Jim Phillips, Ed Roth and Drew Brophy are massive influences for me. I love their loose style, bold colours and crazy designs and their artwork bucks the traditional idea of what ‘art’ is, how it can be displayed or used. This was big for me to come to terms with myself as an artist, even though I didn’t study it or have exhibitions in galleries. These guys just did their thing, their own way and people loved it! So that was big for me to try to forge my own path making a living from my art.
How important is Instagram to an artist's visibility these days?
Social media is a great tool for artists for sure. It’s free and super easy to just push your art out there for people to see it.
I think the big thing is how you use Instagram and how serious you are as an artist. For me it’s just one platform I can easily showcase my art, and its super helpful to put me in contact with photographers or models directly to collaborate with, which is handy! And can be a great way to get my art in front of the right people for brands. But I try not to put too much reliance on it for my art, and I always look for different ways to network and share ideas with potential clients.
Any career highlights?
I only really take on projects that get me super excited, and I only work with clients who feel the same way about my art, so everything I create is kind of a highlight for me! But a big one was my ‘Meditating Astronaut’ mural I painted at the start of 2019. It was an awesome highlight because it was the first BIG wall I painted with some artwork that was 100 percent me, my design, my vision, everything. It also was the only mural of mine ever to get tagged over! It taught me loads about just enjoying the process and not getting hung up on the end results.
I’m also really loving these photograph collaborations lately as I feel it’s something that is really unique and cool and has endless potential to develop and keep growing and evolving.
@sweetmilliesummers / photo: @ebenbphoto
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on the second run of photos to print out for my collaboration project and looking for venues to exhibit them when they are finished up. I’ve got a really cool giveaway competition coming up with Skull Candy Headphones, and I’m prepping to start a HUGE 235-metre mural wall I’m painting for a client. So I’ve got lots happening over the next few months!
And I’m always open for collaborations so reach out I you’ve got some rad ideas!
See more of Kyle Brightside’s work on Instagram, Facebook and brightsideart.com.au