Interview with Artist Tim Kelly/Similar Alien

16 February 2018

Here's our interview with artist Tim Kelly/Similar Alien from Brooklyn, New York City
Please describe your artwork style
I create paintings and drawings as part of an original art series called Similar Alien: about life, love history and popular culture.  If we were all the same, this planet would be boring. My art tells a story.
What’s your background?
I’m an independent creative living and working in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been an artist since birth. My mother happily tells the story of my first artwork... just after birth I was quick at work creating a finger painting on the bed sheet using placenta fluid. Years later when I mastered speech, I named it “bright light, need milk”.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
Salvador Dali made Surreal art that influenced my art message. It made me look for a reaction from people.  When I was 10 years old I created a rendition of Dali’s “Visage of War”.  My teacher was disturbed by my choice and said something to my parents about it.  The reaction impressed me.  My outlook on art and life would never be the same.
- The art and process of Chuck Close has influenced the role of planning and production in my creative process. It made me think about what I was thinking before I began art making.
Frida helped me to not give a shite about what people think.  Make art for me, because I must.  Answer to no one about why or what.  Frida was a badass.  She didn’t give a shite, and now either do I.
How have you developed your career?
In addition to making art, I teach art through my Art is Good Foundation ( and coordinate a worldwide collaborative art project called, The Puzzle Project ( I try to practice what I teach, so I self-medicate with art… the result being a vast plethora of drawings, paintings, collage and mix media.  I use to paint flowers and the moon, now I crave making Similar Alien art, like I crave coffee.
Which current art world trends are you following?
I love the art fairs, big and small.  Discovering up-and-coming artists and having it all wrapped in a dramatic event filled with parties and to-do’s is fun to attend.  Inspires me. I usually race home afterward to paint her draw.
Where do you do your work?
I have a home studio where I paint and also have a creative office space on the East River where I draw and plan my artwork, as well as attend to The Art Is Good Foundation business. The Manhattan view from Greenpoint Brooklyn is inspiring.  I sometimes sit in the park and sketch while gazing at it.

What do you feel is the role of the artist in society?
An artist has a transformative role.  I tell my students, ART is a SUPER POWER! You can make someone think and feel something they were not thinking or feeling before they met your art.  That’s transformative.  I always try to make people feel or think or both, with my art.

What technique/s / mediums do you use?
I use a wide range of mediums.  I paint, draw and collage.  I make example art for all of my projects, so I can teach methods and show the end result.  I often apply this to my alien art.  In fact, one art project I teach is, “Alien Portraits”.  Students make a self-portrait of themselves as an alien.  Fun!

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
To me, it is more important to tell a story and make someone think or feel something after they see my artwork.  The “WHAT!”
How do you feel when you are letting your emotions loose on the canvas?
The reason I prefer to have a home studio is so I can be strange and pace around and turn my art upside down and stand on my head at all hours.  It definitely puts me in a creative zone.  It’s addicting... Self-medicate with art.
What project are you working on now?
I’m always working on more than one drawing, painting and collaborative project at one time.  My current painting is about “Aliens in Love”
Any current or up-coming exhibitions?
Both my aliens and my world-wide collaborative project are on display in Greenpoint, Brooklyn NYC at 67 West Street.
Where do you find your ideas for your work?
I’m full of good ideas.  They pile up patiently waiting in queue.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?
My alien Mona Lisa is my favorite.  It is much larger (50cm x 76cm) than the original Monalisa and came to life quickly one evening.  Then next day I found a beautiful ornate frame on my block.  Cannot believe someone would discard such a frame and it would fit the alien Mona Lisa perfectly. Artful serendipity!
How do you know when a work is finished?
I don’t, that’s the problem.  I usually stop when I start messing it up.  Francis Bacon’s quote, “No artwork is ever complete, only abandoned” is dead on.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Without question, the most important tool is your brain that creates the idea in your head first…. the rest is production.
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
I love the “Art-Love-Triangle:”  My art, the person looking at it and me… I enjoy the reaction, the discussion, the attention.  If someone feels moved or inspired by my art, it is like a drug.  It gets me high and I want more.  Art is Good for You!!

View more of Tim's work here:

Contact Tim here: [email protected]

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