Meet the Artist: Henry Kaye

March 25, 2015

Henry Kaye is a Knicks fan, Illustrator and Graphic Designer. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Henry was always too busy drawing. Originally, his work lived in the margins of math homework, but his designs have found a new home in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut Pro.

Where are you from and where are based you now?
I am from Westfield, New Jersey and actually again live in New Jersey at the moment.
How did you become an artist?
I more so think of myself as a guy who just likes to draw cool stuff I guess. I’ve always liked drawing and putting together the graphics for whatever I was working on at the time. I started going to art school after high school, but left shortly after starting to pursue music full time. And then after a number of years in that world, I’ve kind of come back to the visuals taking over.
When did you start thinking about art in relation to social change?
I think I always had a real appreciation for it. I’ve always been super intrigued and in awe of graffiti, and not just people tagging their names or something but the pieces addressing larger themes and issues. I feel like that was the first artwork I really fell in love with. And as far as my own work, I am really just starting to delve into the world of editorial illustration and work that is commenting on current events. 
Take us through your process! Pencil/Paint Brush/Mouse?
I typically start sketching on paper doing little thumbnails first, the usual process. And then when I make something that is starting to feel good I’ll start sketching it a little bit bigger. And then I’ll scan it in and start digitally “inking” it in Photoshop and working out all of the kinks there.  I just last year got a digital drawing tablet that has really made everything so much easier.  It really narrows down the process. And I feel like I am even adding an unnecessary step in sketching first on actual paper and not just starting on the computer. But I personally want to hold onto that little thread for as long as I can. I don’t like taking advantage of Command+Z.
What was your last/is your next CAN piece and how did you choose it?
This is my first one! And I’m really psyched about it.  It’s an illustration covering the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship.  That year featured the first all black starting line-up for a team in college basketball. That school, Texas Western University were facing the University of Kentucky, who were a completely white team. I did a lot of reading on the game and the events leading up to it before starting anything for the project. And in reading about the specifics of the actual game, the part that stood out to me the most, which is what I specifically depicted, was the start of the championship game. As the ritual in most U.S. sporting events both teams line up equally facing the flag while someone sings the National Anthem.  So in 1966 while this is taking place, you have this moment in time where everyone in the room is doing this age old practice that is supposed to express unity and everyone coming together, yet while it’s going on you have all of these sick disgusting people in the crowd booing the Texas Western team, waving confederate flags at them, holding up banners with sickening profanity at them. It was just so horrifying.
Tell us the story of the most gratifying creative work you've ever done.
I did all of the album artwork for the band I was playing in for a number of years. And nothing has beaten walking into a record store and seeing the album that I played on and did all of the packaging art & design for on the shelf. Nothing has really topped that for me yet. But mentioning that after talking about the events of the 1966 NCAA Championship really make me feel a bit embarrassed. So lets say that assignment! 
If you could spend the day with any artist or creative thinker (alive or dead) who would it be and what would you do?
I would like to hang out with Bruce Springsteen, and just watch him write pop song after pop song and then throw them all away because they’re “not good enough” by his standards and don’t tell the story he wants to tell about some dusty beach road or something. Yeah I know, I’m from New Jersey. Springsteen rules.

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