Kyle Mosher uses an old collection of New York Times newspapers he found to create genius pop art collages. At 27, he’s already lent his creative talents to Absolut vodka, Yelawolf and Vitamin Water and has no plans of slowing down until he becomes an icon like KAWS or Pablo Picasso. Mechanical Dummy spoke with the Young G to gain insight into the life of visual artist on the grind and to hear more about his past influences and future dreams.
Words by G. King
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
Kyle Mosher: My name is Kyle Mosher and I create artwork using vintage newspaper from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The newspapers are the New York Times, and basically I got a huge collection of these vintage New York Times newspapers from this guy. I put a Craigslist add out, and the dude was like a dean at Harvard. The guy is like 90 years-old and he contacts me like, “I have all these old newspapers. If you can carry them out of my basement you can have them.” So I went there and scooped ‘em up and now I have this whole collection of old newspapers. I use it to create artwork (inspired by) pop culture.
MD: Why newspapers?
KM: I went to art school. I always had a talent to draw and stuff. And I never pursued it until I went to fine art school So, I basically played sports my whole life. Got hurt, couldn’t play sports anymore, came to this fork in the road and I was like, “I need to find something that I want to do for the rest of my life.” And art’s always been this thing that kind of intrigued me so I started pursing. At the art school, I didn’t really like painting or drawing. I liked it, but I didn’t really feel like it was me. I discovered Picasso and he does synthetic cubism. Back in the 20’s and 30’s he started cutting up paper and making art out of it. People were like, what the fuck is this? They had no idea. It was never like considered a form of art. He basically started the whole collage movement and as soon as I saw that I was blown away. I was so drawn to it, I was like, “This is what I wanna do.” So my junior year I started doing it and basically that’s what I’ve been doing.
MD: What do think you need to do to become successful?
KM: Just staying true to who I am. I think that any successful musician or artist, they need to stay true to who they are. They need to do what they wanna do and do what they love to do. If you’re generic or fake or try to do what other people try to do, you’re usually not successful. The general audience can sense that you’re not being genuine.
MD: Did you get any resistance from the people around you when you discovered collages were your passion?
KM: A lot of people tried to tell me to paint and draw. But I was like, “That’s not who I am.” A lot of people actually shit on the whole idea of doing collage, too. They were like, “Oh, it’s wack. You’re not like a real artist, you’re just taking other peoples’ paper and creating art.” That’s what I wanted to do so I do it. I been doing it for probably the last seven years. It was hard, like any artist you struggle for two or three years. Four or five, maybe more. But eventually you find your voice and people start to recognize what you do. And I have a very signature style that I do now and it’s really started to work for me the last few years.
MD: What sets the genius artists apart from everyone else?
KM: It’s knowing who you are and staying true to yourself and what you love to do. Finding the trailblazers that came before you. What made them successful? Take what they did and learn from what they did, but make it your own. Every person’s different and that’s what makes it so cool. You have different artists, different musicians doing different things. And it doesn’t matter what genre of music you are, the people that are successful are genuine and true. I didn’t have an end goal for the shit like, “I’m gonna be a rich, famous artist.” It was just about doing it. And sometimes you just need to do it and you’ll find your way.
MD: Who would you say your greatest influence was?
KM: The first person, I had a guidance counselor. I went to a liberal arts school, a typical business type school. I went there to play hockey and I got hurt and couldn’t do it. So I was talking to my guidance counselor, she was like, “You need to do what you love.” So I went to fine arts school and met this teacher. Her name is Lynn Pauley, and she was the head of Pratt Institute in New York City. She got a position at the school that I went to. My first year at the New Hampshire Institute of Art was her first year and she was the first teacher I ever had. So it was— I don’t want to fate— but it was very serendipitous that we kind of crossed paths. She had the same story (as me). She was like this athlete-turned-artist, so she was a huge influence on my life and my art. She just told me to be me and find my voice. It was a huge thing to happen in my life. Meeting her was fucking awesome, basically. She entered me in a contest called The Society of Illustrators Competition in New York City. She sponsored me for it, and I had no idea how big this competition was. I was just like, “Oh, I think she’s just pitying me” (laughs). So I entered it, and I actually made it to the top 25. There were 7000 entries. They picked 25 winners. I was the first person at my school, in the 102-year history of the Art Institute, to ever win it. And I’d only been doing art for two years at that point. So looking back at it now, holy shit it was a big deal. I went there, I met all these people. I was in this gallery in New York City and it was just a crazy, crazy thing that happened. The piece that I entered was a collage piece. It was half collage, half paint, a mixed media piece. So that was a vindicating moment. I was like, “Holy shit, maybe I’m on the right path doing the right thing.”
MD: What kind of side hustles have you found to supplement your creative pursuits?
KM: I like working with musicians doing posters, CD covers, all those types of things. I like working with musicians because I can relate to musicians. They know what it’s like to struggle. They know what it’s like to make sacrifices. Musicians create symphonic art and artists create visual art. It’s basically the same kind of hustle. Just making sacrifices in the struggle.
MD: What’s the dream that’s guiding you?
KM: I kind of put the blinders on when I first got started because I didn’t want to get discouraged. The dreams were there subconsciously, because I wanted to be successful, but I just didn’t want to come out and say, “Oh, I’m gonna be a famous artist,” because I feel actions speak louder than words. I want to do pop culture stuff. I look up to the graffiti artist KAWS. He’s taking his brand and his style of art and turning it into what he’s known for. The clothing brand, Original/Fake, all built around his signature style. That’s something I want to do. I want to just do pop culture things. I wanna do collaborations with artists, musicians, the alcohol companies. It’s the first few years trying to do your thing is a struggle, and the only thing you really have is a dream and that’s what keeps you going. Just the thoug of keep going, keep pushing through and eventually you’ll find your way. Keep making sacrifices and just working your ass of.
MD: Do you have faith that you’ll get to where you want to be on your current path?
KM: I have direction, I have things that I’m doing and taking specific steps to achieve those goals. You gotta take baby steps, too. You can’t overwhelm yourself and expect it to happen quickly. It doesn’t often happen like that. Some people it takes five years, some people it takes fifteen years to finally achieve the ultimate goal. But you’ll get there as long as you keep persevering.
MD: What advice would you give to a young artist who said, “I want to grow up and be like you, Kyle?”
KM: I would say, “Don’t do it” (laughs). You have to be crazy to do it because it takes a little bit of craziness to wanna do something like this, whether you’re an artist or musician. Perseverance is a big word. A lot of doors are gonna get slammed in your face, literally and figuratively. You’re gonna have a lot of people telling you know and that you can’t do it, it’s impossible, or you’re not good enough. You’re gonna hear those pretty much regularly. And then you just strive for little victories. I remember the first blog feature I ever got, it was such a huge moment in my life. I’m pretty sure four people maybe read it, but it was just the fact that I got into this blog. It was huge for me. It was just a little victory and once you get one blog feature, the next step is like, “I wanna be in a magazine.” So I did that and it’s like, “Aw man, that was so cool.” And the two big ones are stay true to yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not. Be genuine, because people are gonna call you out on it. Even if people are telling you that what you’re doing is wack, if you believe in your heart that this is what you wanna do, just be sure of yourself and do it. And work your ass off. You’ve got to work so hard to achieve success. Whatever type of success you’re trying to achieve, you’ve just gotta work your ass off and make a lot of sacrifices. A lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings, a lot of not eating, not sleeping. A lot of not going out and hanging with your friends. These are all things that you have to do. And if you’re not willing to do that, you’re wasting your own time and you’re wasting everyone else’s time because it’s not easy at all.