Collaborating with Atlanta artist Kyle Brooks

Posted on by Barry Lee

About a year ago I was walking along the Beltline in Atlanta, when I came across a bridge that had these brightly colored faces and animals painted on it. It made me smile a lot and I kept noticing the style around town more after that. Come to find out it was the work of Blackcattips (or Kyle Brooks if you're fancy.) Soon after that encounter with his mural, I followed him on Instagram and became more of a fan of his bears and signs.

Earlier this year I partook in a Valentine's day group show with Paper Ghost Studio to which Brooks also had some work. I was able to meet both him and his wife Maria. We shook hands and shared a few jokes. We had then decided to meet again at his studio. Long story short Kyle and I had become good friends and when I was asked to do another show at Octane Westside for December I wanted to do something a little different than what I had done last year. I wanted to create a show based on the beach art that I grew up around in my hometown, but to create my own weird humorous take on it. The other thing I wanted to accomplish was to collaborate with some of the folks and friends that I had made over the years while living in Atlanta. The conception of a show called "I Promised I Wouldn't Do This" (which is a reference to when I was little and refusing to draw nautical things) was born.

Kyle was one of the first people I had in mind to work with for the show, so I contacted him and after a coffee in Buckhead we agreed that we'd make something together. The week of Halloween I had gone over to his studio where he already picked out a large piece of wood and started making some shapes etc. The piece of wood already had the black color in the background so we decided to utilize it. I normally don't toy around with black so this was a fun change for me.

We spent a few hours just painting shapes and working out the painting in real time, we had a vague idea of what we wanted. I ended up using that blue abstracted shape and turned it into a whale with a mean tail. Kyle went on to paint a boat and I thought it'd be a funny idea for him to make some "Bear fish." He painted the faces on the bears and I painted the fins. After he painted a boat I added an angry face to the boat. Kyle and I talked a bit about how we both like the designs of The Muppets (specifically Dr. Teeth), he also "cooked me up" some hot tea.

After a few hours of painting we were done for the day, I had left the piece over at Kyle's studio to do whatever he wanted with it. 

Kyle would send me picture messages on the phone of what he was doing and he decided that the big whale I painted would eat somebody. 

About a week or so later Kyle let me know he was done with his piece and he came over to my apartment to give it to me. I had asked Kyle to put "Sail the Seas with Electro Lucks" as a reference to my Dad who is a vaccuum cleaner salesman who also sold Electrolux vacs for many years. My Dad loves to be on a boat also, so I figured it'd be a nice little nod to him.

Side note: When people ask my Dad about how work is going he always responds "it sucks but it's picking up." 

My good friend Dylan Fagan took a picture of us with what Kyle had presented to me, and afterward I added a few little more pieces to the painting. You can see the full finished painting at my show over at Octane Westside, 1009 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta GA. The opening to "I Promised I Wouldn't Do This" will be on December 4th from 7-11pm. The show also features collaborations with Alan Chiang, Catlanta, Yoyo Ferro, Anne Elser, Kevin Bongang, Caleb Morris, Daniel Haire, Amanda Pinney, Mac Stewart, and Daniel Rodda. 

 Photo by Dylan Fagan

Photo by Dylan Fagan

I had a lot of fun painting with Kyle. Please come out to the show opening on December 4th! You can RSVP and find out more updates through the Facebook event page. It would be great to see you there if you are in the Atlanta area.