Levy Creative Management artist RORY KURTZ is interviewed by JessLovesFred.com. See below for the complete blog post called “From a dream: Rory Kurtz.” This interview goes outside the box of typical interview questions, which is what makes this interview of Rory so interesting and insightful. Enjoy!
Rory Kurtz excavates the depths of your mind while you’re tossing and turning at 2am and transfers what he finds on pieces of paper. My dreams are pretty nonsensical and absurd as they are, but I don’t think even my mind could dream up anything as delightfully surreal as his artworks. The level of detail is beautiful and I have strong urges to print all his artwork onto transfer paper and adorn all my underwear with his surreal illustrations. Here’s an interview I did with him via e-mail recently. His answers are beyond what I expected, and I am very humbled that he even bothered to reply.
Each illustration or painting takes a variable amount of time. Some are finished in as little as forty-eight hours, others will be worked on slowly over months (if I’m afforded the time to do so). As far as publications that I’d love to work for, I’m not quite sure. I’ve worked for some already that were on my professional bucket list. The New Yorker would be outstanding though.
And on what he would do if Electra (the girl in the painting riding the bicycle on the clouds) came to life and paid him a visit… (long, but well worth the read)
Her: Hi there illustrator.
Me: HOLY S**T! (imagine “ME” stumbling a bit, and generally freaking out)
Her: Hmmm. You’re not taking this very well. Perhaps I’ll just ride off and come back later.
Me: WAIT! Er…I mean..um. No, don’t do that. Stay. It’s cool. I just need a second to process this.
Her: Take your time.
Me: Um…do you want to sit? Or…something to drink at all? I’m sorry, is that a dumb question?
Her: (soft laugh) No, I’m fine. And no, it’s not a silly question.
Me: How is this possible?
Her: It’s complicated. By the way, I love my bike. Thank you.
Me: Yeah, no problem, I guess. It was…nevermind. Are you real? Did I create you?
Her: Well, that’s tricky. Yes, I’m real. In the same way a promise is “real”. Or an idea. An idea changes things, and affects the world around you in a very real way, even though the idea itself is immaterial, just a thought. You put me out into the world. I was seen. I can’t be un-seen now. Perhaps I affected someone. Maybe a girl somewhere saw me and said “Ooooh, I want a bike just like that!” or pictured herself riding on a pretty bicycle in the clouds herself. In some way, that moment changed her, even if just a little.
Me: Yes, but are you real like I’m real?
Her: No. You live a life. I live in a moment. I’m allowed to be happy. You’re not.
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
Her: Let me rephrase that. You dreamed up a moment for me. It was a perfect moment. It’s nighttime lit by the moon, and the twinkling lights of a city underneath me. I’m dressed lovely, and dreamily riding my bicycle in soft fluffy clouds. I’m happy because this perfect moment never ends for me. Day never comes and I never have to pay a phone bill, or get fired from my job, or do laundry, or lose someone important to me. Think of it this way, pick a time in your life when you were truly deeply happy and content. Now imagine that moment never stopped happening.
Me: That’s not possible though…
Her: Exactly. I’m allowed to stay in that perfect moment, while you have to keep living a life. Life is made of countless moments. Many of those moments are mundane, a few are terrible, and a small delicate few are absolutely, blissfully, perfect. Regardless, you have to live them all.
Me: That’s heavy. I hadn’t thought of that before. And frankly, I’m a little jealous. Can I go back with you?
Her: Sorry, but that’s my paradise, not yours.
Me: Yeah, I guess (looking at my feet, questions racing through my head in a jumble). If I created you, how come I don’t know everything you do?
Her: I didn’t come from nothing. You painted me, yes. But even the idea had an origin you aren’t fully aware of.
Me: So my ideas come from somewhere else? I’m not the one actually responsible for them?
Her: Yes and no. You pictured me in your creative mind at a certain point. But how did your mind find me? Who’s to say I wasn’t there the whole time waiting for you to assemble me? Waiting for you to give me a form that you could understand, that you could put onto a page for others to understand. Have you ever had an image in your head that’s been there for years? The kind that you can’t tie to any memory, but seems to insist on being acknowledged. Or have you ever finished a piece of art, and found that you couldn’t explain exactly where the idea came from? It felt as though the piece just “happened”. What makes you so sure that it’s entirely you creating them?
Sneak peak of an illustration for a book cover coming out this (US) Winter
Me: It that’s true, then how did you get there? Who or what put you there?
Me: Oh so you can tell me the secret to happiness and all that, but you can’t tell me where ideas come from?
Her: Sorry, cutie-pie. Some things aren’t meant to be known.
Me: Did you just call me cute?
Her: It’s time for me to go (as she smiles and starts to wheel her bike towards the window).
Me: Wait. You can’t stay a while longer? I have more questions. I could order a pizza, or whatever you like. Sushi?
Her: (laughs) Tempting, but no. I’ve already stayed longer than I should have.
Me: You want to know something interesting. I didn’t notice it when I was painting you, but you look really familiar to me…
Her: Hmmmm. That is interesting, isn’t it? Best of luck, illustrator. Take care of yourself.
Me: Thanks. Likewise, I guess. Watch out for helicopters and stuff up there (as she pedals out the window and upwards on the air).