Machinist by day, graphic designer-illustrator-muralist-live painter every other waking hour. This multi-hyphenate is burning the whole candle in pursuit of his art. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Khalil Riddick:
Your website welcomes visitors to your brain – so what’s floating around there these days?
Survival, mostly. I work a lot, including the side stuff I do, like graphic design and murals. Outside of that, though, I think a lot about possibilities. The future. What will become of me and my family in the next few years. I also think a lot about technology, food and how I’m going to beat my friends in fighting games. Science, time, space, what it would be like to have teleportation. Stuff like that.
How would you describe your artistic work?
Bold. I love black-and-white stuff and I’ve always been into bold, clean lines. My work is similar to comic book art in that way, I suppose.
As an illustrator and graphic artist, what are your most useful tools of the trade?
Really good pens and graphite for analog stuff, and the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. You can do so much with just those.
Digital vs. physical media:
Digital means no mess and little to no setup time, which is awesome, but physical media has that tactile nature that is just really satisfying to work with.
When did you come up with the idea of live painting and how does it work?
Live painting came about as a desperate attempt to balance my work, art and social life. There was a point not so long ago that I went full bore with my day job as a machinist and basically told myself I wasn’t going to do art until I gained more stability. That didn’t last long because art is in my bones, so I started focusing more on live art because it allowed me to still scratch the creative itch while also being in the midst of great music and people. When I work with The Aethernauts, which is a four-person live painting collaboration group I started with three of my friends, I like to plan the piece out ahead of time with them. That said, we have done things off-the-cuff. When I paint live on my own or with my wife, I usually just wing it.
What’s the hardest part of painting a mural?
Balancing my obsession with detail and time. Obviously it takes more time to do bigger things, but I tend to work slower anyway because I like to pour a lot of detail into my work.
I’ve read that Glimpse in the Neon District was inspired by your daughter – what were you trying to convey in that piece?
I was trying to convey progression and elevation. Always moving forward, enlightenment, and possibilities in terms of what humans can achieve.
Is there another mural artist you admire?
I really like Esteban Del Valle’s work. I had the pleasure of meeting him, and he is a really cool dude. I love how much character his pieces have, as well as his sense of color.
Pop culture – video games, comic books, movies – seems to feed your creative juices. What are you into most right now?
I am really into fighting games. I love stuff like Super Smash Bros. and Samurai Shodown, but I’ve also been into some shows like Love, Death & Robots and of course Game of Thrones. The list of stuff I’m into is too long and we would be here forever.
What’s next for you?
Right now I am trying to get The Aethernauts off the ground and form it into a legitimate business. We have a really special thing going and I want to take that all the way. I will also be working with 7 Cities Gaming League doing tournament commentary and hopefully my own talk show about games on their streaming channel. Mostly I just want to keep moving forward and elevating on the way.
– Interview by Victoria Bourne; condensed and edited for space.