Kim Keever

i. I work as an artist.

ii. I do this creative work because it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something with my life. As a young man graduating high school I had no real direction in my life. I was working in a factory, trying to meet a girl and looking to buy a car. That was it. Nothing more did I dream of.

It wasn’t until a couple years later when I visited my father whom I hadn’t seen since age 10 that I found a goal. He talked me into going to college and I majored in engineering and continued in engineering until almost finishing graduate school. Though I had always been an artist, it was at that moment that I realized I only had one life to live that I knew of. It made perfect sense to do what I really loved which was making art.

iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are the diligence and perseverance that have gotten me to this point. Once I made the decision to spend the rest of my life as an artist come hell or high water it was easy to continue, at least spiritually.

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iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are obtaining more and more space. I need a much bigger studio and I prefer living in my studio. There are of course other challenges such as avoiding leaving my studio on the 6th floor and finding out later that the tank ran over because I didn’t turn the water off. I’ve lost a lot of downstairs friends and ceilings have had to be repaired. Though I’m not in this position now, for most of my long career just keeping my head above water financially has been a terrific challenge. I always bought art supplies before paying my bills and that got me into trouble many times.

v. I would have to say my most creative childhood hobby was dressing in First Nations clothes and trying to partially live that life or at least that imagined life. I slept under First Nations’ blankets and I did not use a pillow. For some reason I assumed First Nations peoples didn’t have pillows and I still don’t know if they did or didn’t. Of course I had bows and arrows and I even made a spear out of a small tree I cut down and seared in a fire I made in my backyard. I had a teepee and a feather headdress. I went to Cowboy movies but I was usually very disappointed because the First Nations always lost. My two favorite movies were Geronimo and Custer’s Last Stand. Though my mother offered to take me to meet some real First Nations peoples, I was too embarrassed because I thought they would think me ridiculous.

vi. Picasso has always been my main inspiration. He did so much work in so many ways. I always remember the turning point in my life when I decided to dedicate myself to being an artist. It was partly from a video I saw of Picasso in his 70s. He was on the other side of a 4 x 8 sheet of clear plexiglass making a painting on the plexi. You could see through the plexiglass so you could see his face. It was a face of tremendous joy. It made me realize I wanted to be that happy at that age and I knew that I would not happy at all as an engineer.

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vii. My engineering training has always helped me the most. As an engineer, you analyze the physical world as to what goes in, what it is and what goes out. This kind of thinking is much more analytical and not so emotional. I’ve always worked on images that I felt an emotional bond with but ultimately it would be the analysis that brought them to fruition.

viii. A common trap that hurts people in this career is that most young artists tend to put one coat of paint down on a canvas, if that’s the medium they’re working with, and that’s it. Nothing more to do, the masterpiece is done. I’m not saying it’s impossible to be successful in this way but in general, some thinking and decision-making to improve the work makes a lot more sense.

ix. My proudest career moments have been when I was accepted to several museums with work on permanent display. That feels like a great accomplishment.

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x. If you want to be successful as an artist, I suggest that you look to the long run and don’t imagine your dreams will come true in a year or two. I’ve met so many artists with talent at gallery openings and a couple years later you wonder where they went. Occasionally I find out they dropped out and got a job.

xi. Aside from loving what you do, it’s good to have a long-range goal. If you can manage it, the more fame and success you have, the more your work will last … at least through your lifetime. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. Artists’ fame comes and goes through the centuries.

xii. If you want to see my work, go to:

Keever’s work is on display at Bau-Xi Toronto – 350 Dundas Street W – until June 15th.

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