Kristopher Kotcher, aka Frenemy, is an illustrator from Texas with a taste for adventure. The life of his pieces are characters which he refers to as "frenemies," those madly grinning creatures he draws packed into chaotic scenes. Read on to find out about his roots in street art and his gang of frenemies.
DA: Tell me about some cool things you’ve done lately, Kristopher!
KK: In the last year my wife and I moved from Seoul, South Korea to Saigon, Vietnam. Saigon has been a lot of fun, zooming around on motorbikes, eating street food, we are enjoying living in a new country. Since moving here I have been heavily involved in the art scene. I have had some work published with the Saigon Artbook, a book that is put out 5 times a year, each book featuring 3 artists who live and work in Saigon. The 5th book is about to come out and will feature all the artists from the first year. I am excited for that. I have been painting a lot of murals and had a solo exhibition earlier this year at Vin Gallery. Some other projects I am currently working on are a video game app featuring my characters and a children's book. As well as all of that, this week I have been filming with a Vietnamese television show called "Interesting Vietnam". In the program they follow the life of different foreigners who are living here. We have been filming in my studio and some mural painting. So that has been a lot of fun.
DA: That’s a lot to look forward to, it sounds like you’ve come a long way since your beginnings. Actually, I read that you started out as a graffiti artist. What attracted you to street art?
KK: I started painting graffiti around 2001, I had just moved to Austin, Texas with a hardcore band I was singing in. I met a friend at a show who happened to be a graffiti writer and he invited me to try painting with him. I was instantly hooked... My mother had just passed away and graffiti became my therapy in dealing with that. I loved not only the act of painting, but the adventure that went with it—Sneaking around at night and climbing up to rooftops in the city while the rest of the world was asleep, the next day going and getting a picture and seeing what I painted on some high up rooftop.. These are memories and adventures I will keep with me for the rest of my life. Along with all of that, through graffiti I have made some of the best friends I have in the world. Some of which are as close to me as family.
DA: I’m really into the characters you draw. Do you give your frenemies names? If so, do you have them in mind before or after you draw them?
KK: I have given some of them names. I don't normally, but with this children's book I am working on it is forcing me to finally break down and pick some names. I don't know why, but picking names I like is something I have struggled with... As far as planning out my work goes, when I start a painting I almost always just freestyle it. I do not usually do a sketch first or have a concept. Sometimes I do, but I prefer to just let whatever comes out at the time come out. I do have certain characters that show up regularly, but I also like to constantly try to push my imagination and create new ones. I am always trying to expand on this little world I create.
DA: Besides art, do you have any unusual talents?
KK: I don't think so. I used to sing in some metal/hardcore bands as I mentioned earlier. So I guess I can growl and scream pretty well? Ha ha, but that was a long time ago. The last band I sang in was around 2008 or so. Now a days I am pretty focused on my art. I am also a decent skateboarder.
DA: That definitely counts as a talent if you ask me. While we’re talking about the unusual, tell me about one of the quirks in your creative process.
KK: Hmmm unusual? Nothing too crazy I would say. I am not sure this is really a quirk but when I am feeling in a rut or uninspired, I will take my sketchbook and just fill some pages with random drawings of things around the house and little characters and words… just make a jumble of drawings to try to get the juices flowing again. Sometimes they actually end up being some of my favorite drawings.
DA: One of my favorite drawings of yours happens to be in our Coloring Book Volume 3. Have you colored it in yourself?
KK: I did! Here you go, have a look.