Life through canvas: A Q&A with artist Kevin Sabo

kevin sabo

22807 talks to artist Kevin Sabo about his inspirations, mediums and experimentation in all things artistic

Griffin Harrington: What makes Kevin Sabo, Kevin Sabo?
Kevin Sabo: I would say that in this very moment, I am doing everything I can to live a stress-free life and continue living that stress-free life. It sounds so f***ing cliche, but I just want to be happy. I just want to be pleased with my work, with my art and everything I do. You got to put love into everything you do. I just want to love it all.

GH: Has that always been your mindset?
KS: No not at all. Junior year is when it started. I was very much a people pleaser. At the end of the day, if you’re just doing what you’re doing to please other people, you are losing some of your true identity and your raw art form… I’ve rapidly changed between high school and living on my own in college. I hang out with completely different people. I’m open to so many more things, which has gotten me into trouble sometimes.

GH: Can you talk about the last time you realized you made a mistake and realized “that didn’t work”?
KS: I notice a lot of that within my love life, which I think reflects in my painting. I’ll be really adamant about something or somebody, or think “this is what it should be like”. Whenever I make mistakes like that, and I get too caught up in it and do things I shouldn’t be doing. You want to try anything you can, but all you can do is accept exactly who you are. Be awkward. Be whatever. Go with it.

kevin sabo

GH: Listening to you, it’s interesting how you talk about your personal life in a way that is directly correlated to your art work. Everything seems to be connected. Is that something that you’ve always done?
KS: I started in kindergarten when I would draw people. They would always be holding hands or just next to each other. It was all kinda subconscious. Once you notice it, you see it might actually mean something. You don’t want to reveal yourself too much in your work. But you want to put enough information there so that people can can get a sense this is coming from real-life experience.

GH: I noticed a strong trend of really prominent portraits of people in your paintings. Why do you think you focus on that?
KS: I rarely have a specific person in mind when i do people. They are mostly made up. Sometimes it will be Britney Spears, sometimes it will be Kevin. I don’t normally draw my friends.

GH: I’ve seen a couple of your friends in your work.
KS: Yeah, I’ve done a few, and it means that they are important to me at the time. But, really, I like the fact that I imagine these people as these characters, and I kinda speak to them as I create them. They are definitely a reflection of myself. I don’t know what it means. One theory could be that these are the people that I imagine myself with, or who my friends could be or people that I could potentially want to be like. Being a gay dude, I always kinda wonder what it would be like to be a women. Gender is something very interesting to me. When I was 4 or 5 years old, I didn’t realize you stayed the same gender. I was kind of heartbroken when I found out you had to be one thing the rest of your life. … It was something I really struggled with recently. I just did a painting about it recently. It would be really cool if you wake up one day and press a button and be someone else for that day. You could have so much fun with it.

kevin sabo

GH: What or who has inspired you in your painting?
KS: I hate to say it, and it sounds really f***ed up, but I don’t really like looking at paintings. I really don’t. I don’t know that many painters. I think my professors raise an eyebrow at me not knowing painters. Like, they probably think, “is this really this kid’s passion? Is he really taking this seriously?” At least that’s what I’m worried about. Right now, there is something beautiful about not looking at paintings and just working on things that I conjure up in my head.

GH: When you have an idea, how does your thought process work in making it come to life?
KS: “Experimentation. I’ll have a rough idea on how I want to start and allow myself the freedom to mess up. Then I fix my mess up. I love that look. It adds a whole ‘nother dimension. Complexity is very important to me, sometimes. How to create beauty within complexity is something I find interesting. You have to be open to every style. Everything. Then you’ll figure out something.

GH: So, talking about being open to a lot of different things and art forms, tell me about your work in music.
KS: I realized I started painting from the music I was listening too. I would title paintings after song names. I draw massive inspiration from music artists. There was something in me that said, “If you don’t try, then you are missing out.” These artists inspired me to paint about their songs. So why not make a song, so that you start paint from your songs? They could have a unique relationship. I’ve noticed, recently, that’s happened a lot. I’ve painted directly from the stuff I’m writing about. I feel like such a beginner, though, because I f***ing am. I just started recording like six months ago. The music started from a class taught by Suzanne Zubrig. It was an art course saying “f*** you” to whatever you thought you were doing before and doing something that you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve never had the balls to do. I figured it was now or never, and I figured I might as well get a grade for it. Liv [Sohr] was such a positive influence in my life at the time, and we started vibing out and recording songs, and some magic happened. And I f***ing love it a lot.

GH: Where did the name of your group come from?
KS: Go Go Leche? It could mean a lot of things, but really it just means nothing. I love the way Go Go makes people move. I wanted to emulate that in the sound, and for Leche, thats really smooth for me. Like creamy, milky smooth. I think Liv is more Leche, and I’m more Go Go.

GH: What’s next for you?
KS: Everything I’ve done will always be there. It will always affect my next endeavor and my next art form. Who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love. Who knows. S***, maybe clay.