Friday, December 5, 2014

Kyle Anderson: An Artist, An Animator & A Gentleman

'Spending 14 years of my life in a pool wearing nothing but speedos all day has definitely made me comfortable with a lack of clothing. Plus I have a bit of an exhibitionist side to me, so it's all felt pretty natural, it was never a huge deal for me.'

With the theme of FH being the male form, my first encounter with many of the men I profile is of them without many, and often any, clothes on. Visually, they are physically exposed in front of the camera, yet even completely naked, most remain concealed. We may see their bodies, but we know nothing of their lives unless of course they make the choice to share. My goal with FH is in many ways to get to know them dressed. To find out who they are and what makes them tick, especially artistically. My main question is usually what led them, what brought them to the image that first drew me to want to get to know more about them.

There are great looking naked men all over the Internet but almost all, are just that, bodies in images that are seen, enjoyed, and then quickly forgotten. Others linger though, in your thoughts and in your memory. It might be the artistry within the image, it might be a look in their eyes, it might be the talent and skill of the person behind the camera lens. Some, are most comfortable with only having their bodies exposed. Happy to share images, but reluctant, for their own reasons to expose much beyond that.

Some models, like Kyle Anderson are comfortable sharing more. When I saw my first image of Kyle, he was indeed fully nude in a incredible image (below by Joseph Sbarro) that had me wanting to find out more about him. There was a confidence exuding from the man within that image, a strength felt within both the relaxation of his pose and his connection with the camera. Kyle appeared to me more than posing for, but was interacting with camera, staring confidently and directly at the lens, and the person behind it. Being an artist himself might account for some of this, but I think his years swimming may have had an even bigger impact.

5 images above by Joseph Sbarro

Kyle Anderson: 
Animator: Worked on preschool TV shows such as The Wonder Pets, 3rd & Bird, Small Potatoes, Peg + Cat, Sing It, Laurie!, and Team Umizoomi.
Artist: Writer and illustrator of the Captain Tremendous graphic novel and Museum of Monsters poetry collection.
Gentleman: Gives up his seat on the train for the pregnant and elderly.

From Kyle's Site:
Growing up in California, Kyle spent most of his time in the pool on the local swim team. During the long tedious workouts, swimming back and forth, he had big dreams of becoming an archaeologist... or a mortician, but after realizing archaeology was NOT like Indiana Jones, and that life as a mortician would not be an episode of Six Feet Under, he decided to go into film making. So off he ran to New York University, where he studied Film and Television production at Tisch School of the Arts. It was here he learned how much he appreciated California winters and, after being on swim team all four years, how much he missed outdoor swimming pools.

He was given an internship on Davey and Goliath's Snowboarding Christmas which inspired him to become an animator and sparked his love of stop motion. After that, he began his focus on animation with the guiding hand of Academy Award winning professor, John Canemaker, where he spent 3 years hunched over a lightbox and locked in a small, dark stop motion set. Kyle then moved out into the world where he has animated on the preschool television shows, "The Wonder Pets," "3rd & Bird," "Small Potatoes," "Sing It Laurie!" and "Team Umizoomi" for the past 7 years, as well as working on the pilot episodes for "Peg + Cat," "The Jo B. & G. Raff Show," and a Domo special. He has also been given the opportunity to direct episodes of "The Wonder Pets" and "Sing It Laurie!" Kyle is still located in New York City, is still cold, and has begrudingly taken up running. He is currently working as a freelance animator.

2 images above from René Fragoso

Even when on a team, even though a couch, swimming is a solitary sport. All those hours swimming laps in the pool, often alone gave Kyle as mentioned, lots of time to think. Too much alone time can be risky, some minds use the lack of time limits to form reasons not to move forward. Other minds, especially those attached to bodies in motion, use that same time to plan, to figure out ways to overcome obstacles, get around boundaries and to prepare for what is coming.


I think that one of my biggest inspirations is an artist that goes by the name of Shag. His work has a very kitschy, retro vibe to it, which I love. And most importantly it's just a lot of fun. It's artwork that is shown in legitimate galleries, sells for a ton of money, but doesn't take itself too seriously. As far as animation goes, my biggest inspiration would be Gumby. After my first year of film school, I was at home in California for the summer (a small town on the coast called San Luis Obispo) and ended up getting connected with a production of a Davey and Goliath Christmas special that the creators of Gumby were making. It ended up being such an amazing experience that when I returned to school that fall, I decided to switch from live action to animation and never looked back. I also cannot forget John Canemaker (an academy award winner for best short animation) who was my teacher at NYU. It was amazing to not only get his advice on my work and career path, but also have him really believe in me.

So much of animation, even targeted at adults seems about connection to childhood memories. Holidays, fun, even colors that often people forget. It seems some people try to block those memories, or see them as unimportant, and others try to tap into them to help make sense of their current lives. I was curious as to if this philosophy in any way impacted Kyle's work process, or was it something completely different?

KA: As far as my personal work goes and what I decide to make, I think a lot of those decisions are based entirely on what I would like to see. I feel like as a kid, I sort of forced myself to grow up sooner than I wanted to try and fit in. There's a point where watching cartoons and making crazy invented stories with action figures isn't the cool thing to anymore, so I stopped. And then in college, especially being in the animation field, I realized that no one cared anymore. So yeah, I think a big part of my work is trying to tap back into childhood that I felt was cut short.

The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party from Kyle Anderson on Vimeo.

'Marc was my boyfriend at the time and being in a long distance relationship, I wanted to do something special for him since I couldn't actually be there. The initial idea was just going to be essentially just like a simple gif, ecard sort of thing, but i have a tendency to make projects a lot bigger than they have to be, and next thing I know I had basically storyboarded an entire film out. Fortunately at the time I was unemployed, so I managed (without much sleep) to finish the entire thing in about a week's time, which given that on an actual production, we are usually only expected to get through about 45 seconds a week (and that's just animation, not including storyboarding, design, rigging, sound, etc.) it was a pretty insane feat. The biggest reason for no sound was I just didn't have the time or actors to record dialogue. Nor did I have the equipment necessary to get the level of quality I wanted and I can be a bit of a perfectionist. If I am going to put that much work into a project, then it needs to good, otherwise what's the point? So with that in mind, I came up with the old film concept as a way to be able to tell the story I wanted to tell using the resources I had available.'

Ahoy, Me Hearties

I've always had a love of all things nautical. And I think, like most kids, I was very intrigued by pirates when I was young. A friend and I back in the day would always celebrate pirates in July, for whatever reason (who knows, kids do weird things). But ever since I've sort of kept up the tradition and make it a point to learn a little more every year.

Next 3 images via Ryan Pfluger

Having lived in both sun and snow, when you dream, or when you fantasize about an art piece, is there a preference for snow or beaches that subconsciously tries to take over?

KA: 'After 12 years in NYC, I still have not gotten use to the winters here. My fantasies always involve a nice warm beach and a lot of sun! It's actually sort of funny though. My film that I am currently working on is actually about a yeti who hates the cold and all my friends that have seen the storyboards have all pointed out that I basically just wrote a film about myself.'

Curious about how the transition from creating characters for preschool television shows, to heading to a studio to shoot for an entirely different audience is like. Do they tap into different area's of your artistic and creative process?

KA:  'Yeah, trying to keep in mind WHO your audience is can definitely be challenging. Working professionally as an animator though, there are some jobs I take that are more the family friendly, geared for children jobs, and others that are more commercial and aimed for adults. Just between those, I have to keep in mind that not only the design, but actual animation style will probably be completely different. So I'm at least a little bit used to being able to mentally shift gears. Also, I think that having a background layout and design, and even lighting with stop motion animation, really helps me when I'm in front of the camera, since I can sort of visualize what the photographer is seeing and compositionally, what will work and what won't. With the experience behind the camera as well, I think it gives me a little more respect for the photographer as artist and makes me more eager to perform well so they can create work they are happy with. I know that it's me in the pictures, but I'm essentially just that stop motion puppet on the set. Without the photographer's skill, it wouldn't really be a piece of art.'

Kyle began modeling a couple of years ago after photographer Ryan Pfluger had contacted him about doing a shoot. Kyle thought it sounded like something fun and different, and thought, why not go for it? 'It's fun to have that different experience than my day job and cool to get to see other people's artistic point of view. There are definitely a few photographers that I would love to be shot by. Rick Day being one near the top of that list.'

Any odd or strange stories from any shoots?

KA:  Haha, probably the strangest was on a shoot with two other models, where I was the only one to actually wear underwear there. So we had to wait for them to go find somewhere to buy some.

What part of your body are you most happy with? What part gets the most attention from others?

KA:  I'd say I'm probably most happy with my legs. The years of swimming, and now running have really paid off. I tend to get a lot of attention for my back and fairly broad shoulders, which is definitely thanks to swimming.

Reactions of family & friends seeing his nudes:

KA:  I've definitely shown a few of my better friends a bunch of the shoots, and as weird as it may sound, I'd rather them see it with me there then come across it on tumblr. The family though... they hear about the shoots I do with clothes on. haha 

 The first shoot I did caused a bit of a stir with my boyfriend at the time (Marc still). I was approached by Ryan Pfluger and I was excited to do it, and honestly, honored to even be asked in the first place, but sort of embarrassed to tell people I was doing it, so I didn't. Needless to say, once he saw the image on-line he was less than pleased. It was my fault, and if I had just said something first, it probably would have been no big deal at all, but that was the last time I posed nude while in that relationship, as it was a bit of a sore subject from then on. haha. As far as dating someone new, I definitely wouldn't be worried about telling them, or having them find out. I'm not ashamed of it. In fact I'm pretty proud of most the shoots I've done. Would it be first date discussion? Maybe not.

2 images below from Ryan Pfluger

Since both art forms (animation and modeling) have a focus on the visual, have you thought of combining them and shooting as well?

KA: 'I haven't really before, but that could be a really awesome idea. I love pushing myself to try new things and to create things that will hopefully catch people's eye. There could definitely be a spark of something in combining the two.'

Check out more of Kyle's animated Advent calendar HERE:

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