The Offbeat Artist: Exclusive with Kevin Von Holtermann

Who is Kevin Von Holtermann? He’s passionate, intense, and incredibly talented. When starting out, he spent 17 years in Philadelphia working as a hairstylist and making music — writing it and playing it. He excels at the arts and has the work to prove it. As a child, he struggled with ADHD, but he never let it stop him. He starts each day with power and intention and a serious dedication to his craft. His paintings pop with color and a vibrance for living life to its fullest.

Kevin always had dabbled in art but the music was his first love for many years. Kevin started from a young age playing drums and learning guitar by sneaking his bandmates’ guitars that they would leave at his house overnight for the following day’s jam session that soon led to him writing songs and singing as well, which Kevin still does to this day. Kevin is a multi-faceted personality who succeeds in every artistic medium he takes on, whether it’s painting, music, or photography. His main focus at the moment is his painting, as the demand for his work has kept him very busy. Kevin also stays extremely relevant and has even expressed some of his thoughts about the current pandemic through his work.

“Interconnected”
36×48
Acrylic on Canvas
KVH 2020

Were you always attracted to the painting? I know that you are a musician as well.

Art — as in full-time artist was by mistake — lol. I was broke and dumpster diving when I lived in Philadelphia one Thursday night and found a trash bag full of paint and an old, used canvas leaned up against the side of the dumpster. I hauled it back to my apartment rolling in my skateboard and began to create my first collection. Those first paintings landed into the salon I was working at as decoration and the positive feedback kept me going on my new venture. Life, love, trials, and tribulations keep me inspired to dig deep and not to sound dismal; but I do my best work within crisis and anxiety.
The therapy actually becomes an artistic solution and inspiration.
Life, love, trials, and tribulations keep me inspired to dig deep and not to sound dismal; but I do my best work within crisis and anxiety.

Your work is so beautiful and detailed. Do you start with a specific vision or improvise a bit as you go along?

It all depends on the mood. Sometimes it is a specific vision, like for instance when I do a pet portrait or a figurative character painting. Some of the abstract work has a blurred starting vision, but normally, that blurred vision is quickly detoured into a frenzy of a kind of cat and mouse game with the canvas and the paint. Chasing the last “mistake” and using that actual mistake as the fuel to further leap into the work.

Lastly, other paintings are completely done with a blindfolded attack of letting my angst and soul direct my hands in a spiritual and visceral way.

“Spring in My Step”
36×40

Do you have frequent exhibitions? Also, I know you live in New Jersey, but do you ever have shows in additional locations?

(I used to show at different places in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, but was always left with a somewhat disappointed feeling at the attitudes of some artists towards me that I was “untrained “and an outsider. Not that they were horrible people, not at all. However, I was an imposter walking into a group of tight-knit scholastic artists that were not always very welcoming. That combined with my introverted personality eventually led me to take my art online to the various social media forums popping up and that was where I built my confidence.

Then one fine day while I was working at my job as a hairstylist, My then boss and friend of the salon Wendy said, “Kev , bring your art into this salon and put a sign on the door, Kev Von Holt Gallery and set up a fun, small gallery here.” I was like wow, really? She said yes and to keep all the profits that I sell. She was my start!

“Pink Moon Over Pines”
Acrylic and sand and dirt on canvas
24×48

What materials do you use?

I work with acrylic and anything that will produce color on a canvas.

How would you describe your work?
Describing my work is a tough one …
It’s abstract, it’s fun, it’s sometimes dark, It’s like 5 different artists in one sometimes due to my ADHD.
Haha, I work on multiple styles hellbent on the thrill of the investigation of what I have inside. For a while, I was stuck in a rut of doing floral paintings and cityscapes and pet portraits because that was what people were buying the majority of. Then I started selling all of my many styles to collectors and thought to myself, well, I don’t like always writing the same song and style. Therefore, why should I adhere to a rigid format within my paintings and style? The fun for me is the creation and plethora of ideas and feel I can convey within multiple realms.

“There is More To This than Meets The Eye”
Acrylic and Objects on Canvas
36×40

Could you explain your process of working? What do you feel when you are painting?

I feel crazy, and as a hunter, the canvas is my prey. I have one mission when I paint — and that’s to get that white canvas to look the way I envision it in my mind. It’s animalistic when I paint and surreal. It calms me the most out of all my creative endeavors but is the one artistic medium that I obsess on getting it exactly how I see it in my mind.

As I know, you haven’t got any formal art background. Nevertheless, it doesn’t prevent your artworks to be masterpieces! How do you think, would you have worked as boldly))) as today if you had the professional educational background?

I have never had training in any of my artistic or musical mediums. I have always been overly curious and eager to learn the things I was interested in. School and teachers are NOT things I have ever been interested in, especially with my ADHD. I want to invent my own styles, my unique thought process, and my visions. I always thought, well. why be the student when you can be your own teacher.

How do you choose the subject for your abstracts, photographs, songs? What usually you are inspired with?

Love… LOVE is most of my inspiration, having it, wanting it, needing it, hate it, it is all fueled by love in some sort of way. I am also inspired by the raw emotion in any form. I thrive on human connection and disconnection. On function and dysfunction. The positive and the negative. All true to my Pisces Zodiac sign.

I like your idea to paint pets portraits.)) Why did you decide to do that? Is it actual?

I had never done portraits of pets… But I LOVE LOVE LOVE animals. A client came to me and said, “I would love a portrait of my dog in your style. So I gave it a try. I realized that my love for animals translated to the canvas in such a fun way. I actually found myself painting in a whole different way. I also connected with the client’s pet — talking to them while I paint them. Feeling the love the owner has for the pet is amazing and the love they show for the finished work is amazing!

The love people have for their pets is priceless 🙂

I am impressed by your ability to manage to work in different fields simultaneously. So, in what schedule you live?) What is your lifestyle?

My lifestyle is all over the place depending on my mood 🙂 However, for the most part, I woke up early — at sunrise and have a coffee.

-walk my dog BuddyBuddy

-Work on paintings for a few hours . 

-Have breakfast and go to the gym 🙂

-Maybe a motorcycle ride 

-Or a drive in my 1978 classic corvette to clear my mind a bit…

-Then back into the painting studio for a possible afternoon smoke of marijuana and have some more coffee 

-THEN, I will break up the day and switch to music mode later on in the afternoon … Until dinner time… 

-then normally spend the eve painting … Then go to sleep

And wake up and do it all over again 🙂

“Pet Portraits”
Made custom from photograph
Acrylic on canvas

What would you advise the young painters no matter what country they live in?

Don’t wait for a gallery to sell your work !!!!! Galleries are sometimes like record labels for music. It can sometimes be impossible to get their attention, (until you have proven your worth). How do you prove your worth? By loving and respecting what you believe in and having enough respect for your craft to dedicate your life to it. I’m not saying to quit your day job. Yet, every minute of your free time should be spent planning, marketing, and creating — YOURSELF! In this day and age, you can promote yourself if you have the drive and belief.

My end advice… Stay positive, stay prolific, and do it yourself.

Kevin Von Holtermann
Photo: Dave Norton

You can follow Kevin on his social media platforms:

https://www.facebook.com/kevinholtermann

https://www.instagram.com/kevvonholt/

 

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