Kieran Valde: Taking Risks and Finding Oneself

Kieran Valde is a 20-year old fine artist from Winnipeg. He often creates distortions of the face, as seen in his work below, which he says can work to tell more of a story. Valde’s own story is quite interesting itself. After he quit his job and stopped going to college, he began to focus on art – painting every day for five months straight. He then held his own solo exhibition. The week following his show, he randomly went to Europe by himself, where he has now been for two months. Read more about Kieran’s story in our interview below.

A lot of your work features distorted, extremely abstract faces. Is there a reason behind this specific style, or is it a theme that you picked up over time and decided to run with?

It definitely is something that developed over time. I think that layering faces and adding distortion can tell more of a story and convey more emotion.

Who and what are your biggest inspirations when it comes to making art?

Oftentimes I make art as a release. My work is based upon personal experiences and different feelings I’ve felt due to pretty much anything that has happened to me in my life. I’d say living is the biggest inspiration for me. Also my mom, she is the first reason why I started to make art. There are almost countless creative contemporaries who constantly inspire me as well. I’ve named some in previous interviews and upon reading said interviews I always think of more that I forgot. For that reason I will not name any in particular.

Was there a turning point in your life where art went from a hobby to something more serious? If so, what caused this change/realization?

When I was in the tenth grade I had a drawing project for school that was frustrating me. I didn’t like my concept. The project theme was freedom. To pass the time I started doodling on a page, the doodle quickly became an obsession and I covered the entire page. I decided to submit it as my project and it was well received by my teacher. It was then that I started to express myself more in art. That is when art became a huge part of my life. I was going through a lot of shit at the time and having a release helped a lot. I vowed to myself that year to make art forever. Over the years this has only solidified. With every “milestone” I reach I only become more determined. Graduating high school, starting to make a living from art, quitting my day job, holding my first show; these moments have all pushed me further into taking this “seriously”.

Tell me about your first solo exhibition. How did that come to be and how did it turn out?

I had been aspiring to hold my own solo exhibition since I got out of high school. I did not think my work was good enough for quite some time. Eventually I decided it was time. I quit my job, stopped going to university and went for it. I painted everyday for around 5 months leading up to it. I was somewhat nervous but it couldn’t have gone better.

What did you learn from that whole experience? I imagine painting every day for 5 months would open your eyes to some things about yourself and your work.

I learnt a lot about myself. All the painting resulted in many many hours alone. In combination with the concept of my work reflecting my own insecurities I was deep in my mental. That is what I wanted. I wanted to face my neuroticism head on. I wanted to understand myself. I’d say I was mostly successful. There were many days where I almost lost hope. Many breakdowns. It was all worth it though. I know myself much better now, I know what I need and I’m still working everyday to give myself that. I needed to prove to myself that I can make art and be successful. I did that. I feel a sort of relief now. A sense of fulfillment. I can look at future in a much clearer sense now. I know with absolute certainty that things will be alright. I also learned that despite how productive those months were that I needed to slow down. Take a step back. I reacted to that by leaving the continent. I’ve been traveling by myself all across Europe for 2 months now, having left the week after my exhibition ended.

Traveling across Europe by yourself sounds amazing. What made you want to do that? And how has it changed you?

It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I saw the opportunity and bought the plane ticket. I’m not sure if it has really changed me, but it certainly has opened my eyes up to a lot. I’ve met loads of people from all over the world. It’s been very inspiring. You kind of realize that people are all the same, no matter where we come from. It’s made me feel very connected to this world. I might have also become slightly more patient and easy going. Because shit inevitably goes wrong when traveling, you just need to learn how to deal with it you know. I left right after my show because I didn’t want to become stagnant in the afterglow of the exhibition. I was worried I wouldn’t know what to do. But now that I’ve had all this time away from my studio (albeit I have been sketching) I’ll be ready to go 200% when I get back home.

What goals do you have for yourself over the next few years?

A big goal of mine right now is to exhibit work internationally. I’m thinking ideally United States first. I’m not sure which city yet though. Europe after that. I’d also like to create more in the field of design. Fashion, furniture and sculpture. Essentially expanding my work into 3 dimensions. I cut and sew a bit but don’t share much of it. Other than that I hope to paint even larger canvases, and have more shows in my hometown, Winnipeg.

Follow Kieran Valde on Twitter and Instagram.


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