One of the most important values that arts culture has, is the ability to create subcultures of like-minded people. Since its beginnings in the 80s, the Comic Con and Cosplay subcultures spawned from the comic books of the previous decades, have become an influential movement, giving rise to multi-million dollar industry and an art movement that embodies a carefree culture of fun and inclusivity. While the comic book narratives play a big part, speculative fiction and Japanese pop culture, anime and video games have been influential in shaping these communities as well.
One such member of this creative subculture is Melbourne illustrator and animator, Steve Kimber. His influence by anime and pop culture is obvious and his characters are a mix of old childhood favs, and new originals. Now the master of gleeful character-centric illustrations and light-hearted, random animations, his work is filled with colour and energy.
“I set out to have a good time and spread positivity.” Steve Kimber
Having studied illustration for 2 years and animation for 3, Steve has been a part of Supanova, Manifest (aka the Melbourne Anime Festival) and the CHAOz convention. And he recently had an exhibition at Melbourne’s RAW festival. He says the “art scene here [Melbourne] is extremely varied – and there’s a very strong video-game and retro culture that I find appealing.” His trade tools are markers, paint and pens, but prefers to render his pieces digitally as he enjoys experimenting this way.
“I find visual interpretation of human emotion and expression fascinating… Working digitally means it’s easy to experiment without irreversible consequence… the canvas is easy to navigate and organise.”
Steve has been able to build a vast community of people around him and his work, and asking for help and feedback from that community is part of his process – which in turn means his friends online and off are part of his inspiration. He also appreciates being able to learn from any collaborative work that comes his way, such as Moon Animate 1 & 2, Seven Star Reanimate – projects that recreate episodes of popular anime series Sailor Moon & Dragon Ball Z, and the kickstarter project, Feel Good Zine a “collection of comics and illustrations from a variety of artists about what makes them feel good.”
“Each person has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creation and organisation, as well as myself. Whether it’s playing to our strong points, or using it as a learning experience, it’s a matter of cooperation and keeping an open mind. When you work alongside one or two people it’s very fun to see their side of the process.”
Steve’s colourful, energetic work imbues us with a positive and carefree vibe, which is felt by the community around him. He dreams of being able to make a living from his art, and his advice to any budding artists?
“It’s much easier when you enjoy making friends and contacts – it’s very much a matter of being at the right place at the right time, and having contacts all over can make you that tiny bit more lucky. Apart from that, constantly try and explore more ways to grow creatively, so that if an opportunity arises you won’t be overlooked.”
Experiment with colour and subject matter, try things from new directions, don’t overthink a concept and have fun.
“Keep doing what you love and as long as you’re passionate and hard-working, there’ll be those that follow you on the journey.”
Want to know more about Steve? Stalk him on the links below.