Kozyndan is the joint pseudonym of Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife illustrator team Kozue and Dan Kitchens, known in particular for their whimsical and occasionally absurd illustrations of modern cityscapes.
This amazing couple took the time to give us this awesome interview, where you can read both Kozy and Dan's point of view about baby goats, naked hippie homonucleii and icecream kitties.
1. It must be so fun working as a husband-wife team. What is your process like?
Dan: SOMEtimes its fun. You can imagine the pros and cons of working with your spouse. There is no separation between work and the rest of your life in that situation. You can't leave work problems at home or vice versa when you work at home with your spouse. Artistic frustrations affect your day to day life with your spouse, and fighting with them over non art related things spill into the artistic process. This is probably why most artist couples do not collaborate. We are pretty lucky to have a very solid friendship and deep love for one another, deep enough that our egos don't overwhelm the process.
Kozy: To answer the question though, we don't really have a set process. it's very organic. We know each other well, and trust each other, and each know where our strengths and weaknesses are. I do a lot of pieces on my own. Dan does some as well. Other pieces are very collaborative with both of us throwing out ideas, both of us drawing and both of us painting.
Dan: And every variation in between. I like to see what happens when i come up with an idea and do a sketch, and then kozy develops a beautiful rendering based on that and then she devises how to execute the final form of the artwork (how it will be painted and on what material.) I happily take on the role of assistant at that point. In the end though - we think of anything that either of us does to be some form of collaboration because our lives have been so intimately tied together the last 15 years. We have many of the same hobbies and are spending most of our time together, so the influence of the other person is there somewhere in any piece either of us does.
2. What does your work space look like?
Kozy: Its a bit of a blank canvas to be honest. We generally have nothing hanging on the walls for inspiration, few sketches lying around, no knick knacks or whatever, just the tools and materials and reference material for whatever projects we are currently working on splayed out on the various drafting tables in the room.
3. Who are your favourite/most recent inspirations?
Dan: Recently? …kaleidoscopes.
Kozy: Baby goats.
Dan: All time inspiration though, its gotta be the ocean and music and animals and naked hippies.
4. What is your favourite city to live in and why?
Dan: I am born and raised in Southern California and have lived no where else. We have lived together in Los Angeles over 12 years and have found no place we'd rather live. It suits us. I don't particularly like cities though. I don't like clusters of humanity very much. I prefer nature and open space, but if i have to live in a city, its probably going to be LA for now.
Kozy: We are weird, and LA is a weirdo of a city. It like a bunch of third world countries vomited in one big puddle on Southern California.
Dan: And she means that in the best possible way! Haha.
Kozy: Yeah!! Totally - it's exciting for an artist - it can be anything you need it to be. You can be truly isolated here if you want, you immerse yourself in a scene and be part of a movement. You can experience a parade of cultures. You can escape into undisturbed nature in minutes (and I don't mean a park). The food is better than anywhere else in the world, honestly. Anyone who denies that doesn't know what they are talking about. The produce in California is amazing all year round. Its cheaper than a lot of big cities, and you can have ton for space for less money than other big cities. This alone makes it ideal for most any artist. On top of all that, it's in California - which is just a wondrous, strange place of epic beautiful and natural wonders.
5. What do you do when you're feeling blocked?
Kozy: Yoga? I don't know - we don't really ever feel blocked.
Dan: We aren't overly prolific, and work is always time consuming. We generally have a backlog of ideas extending back years - projects we never get around to tackling. We would need an army of art drones to help us execute seemingly good ideas that we don't get to.
6. Can you tell us a bit about the pieces that were in the Cotton Candy Machine x Stranger Factory show?
Dan: I wanted to send a sampling of artworks related to the mural we created this year for the "Super Awesome: Art and Giant Robot" exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California. The digitally printed mural is called "An Ode To California" and we kind of combined the very techniques that we typically employ separately, smashing them into one for this massive image that was about 37 feet by 17 feet. Plus the entire floor in front of the walls it covered. For the CCM X SF show we included one of the original pencil renderings that ended up being scanned and digitally colored for the mural, and one of the pages of tiny acyclic painted naked "hippie homunculei" that populated the massive nature elements in the "Ode". Lastly we took another of the characters drawings and made a new painting from it. We wanted people to see how some of the stages for a massive image like "An Ode To California". The particular pieces were selected because they also stood well on their own right.
7. Are there any new projects in the future that you're excited to talk about?
Dan: We are just completing a fun piece for a big museum exhibition Sanrio is putting together for the 40th anniversary of Hello Kitty. The exhibition will start at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, and will explore the history and culture of the iconic character. We are contributing a new piece to an exhibition of 40 artists' interpretations of Hello Kitty. We made fun, trippy kaleidoscopic vision piece involving unikitties, ice cream kitties, donuts, lightning, and a lot of resin and glitter…. We'll see - we are about to put the finishing touches on it and are still deciding how to display the piece. Its been a fun bit of experimenting for us (we are not 'materials' artists. typically we are using pretty basic techniques of drawing and painting on board or paper, and focusing mostly on the imagery, but we decided to use this project to just have fun and learn some new stuff. It's really got us inspired and piling up even more ideas that will likely never be executed. Haha!
Kozy: The future is up in the air though - we may try to do some more murals - we were invited to do something in Miami around Art Basel time, and also have agreed to go to PowWow in Hawaii in February if our schedule permits.
Dan: Yeah we also have a show around that time in Australia, so we have to see what we can move around. Also look for some new prints and posters and such to come out in time for the holidays… mostly though - look for us to ditch all our work to go chase humpback whales (which we will be doing this week - we are off to Tonga!) and waves and get lost in the trees. I suppose that is what really makes us happy. Then we'll come back and report our finds in the next round of prints and paintings and hopefully some folks will enjoy them!
We sure will Dan, we sure will!
You can view more of their work here: http://www.kozyndan.com/,
follow them on facebook, and check out their beautifulphotos on instagram, here: @kozyndan
And make sure to check out the Cotton Candy Machine Store to pick up beautiful Kozyndan pieces to add to your collection!