Part of: Death

LiveStudio: Kyle Hopkins

published on 23 July 2012

Jeweller Kyle Hopkins crafts his own death mask in a live streamed residency at SHOWstudio.

Jeweller Kyle Hopkins crafts his own death mask in a live streamed residency at SHOWstudio.

77 Q&A Posts

24 AUG 2012. 18:55

Q. Hi Kyle, are you still planing to plate your stuff? Chris
A. Yes Chris. We are coming. Promise. That's it. That's us done.

24 AUG 2012. 18:53

Q. Kyle- you are one of the nicest and most positive people I know (and a huge inspiration!). Is kindness towards others something you think about daily? From Lizzy in Seattle :)
A. I think about the people I love daily and I think about how my actions affect others but I don't think about kindness.
I want people to know today that they make me feel good.  

24 AUG 2012. 18:27

Q. In your opinion who is the best photographer? Big love from India, Hennessy Youngman aka The Pharaoh aka Henrack O'bama
A. Will Hazell. He's the guy who does all our look books. He's great. Nick Knight's quite good too.  Ed Templeton is great too.

24 AUG 2012. 18:23

Q. Hello Kyle - this is Tim H from the Island. I'm glad to see you at work, and doing so well! It's cool that we can see you doing your thing - i wish I could see the mask closer - it looks pretty cool anyway! Next time you're home, look me up again if you want to listen to some old school soul! & it's Mama T, too. Love seeing you in action! Here's my question: do you ever see yourself making commercial jewellery? Do you think it would be "selling out?" p.s. I think your mum's fabulous, too :)
A. Thank you both. The stuff I've already done is as commercial as I can go. I'd struggle to go even further than that. 

24 AUG 2012. 17:57

Q. Regarding your comment that you didn't think you could figure out what defines human life, do you think of death as more event-based and life as more of a state of being? Would it make a difference if someone had asked about birth instead of life?
A. Well I think for me the difference between life and death is that we know nothing about death. Death, no one has experienced.  So that keeps it totally different.  Life we have all done.  Each and everyone of us know what it is to live but Death is still that mystery. 

24 AUG 2012. 17:54

Q. Yesterday you talked about how the British Art Council (think that was the entity you mentioned) did not consider jewellery to be a fine art. Do you think that being selective/exclusionary is tantamount to being elitist? Do you find in your experience that the fine arts as a system is generally elitist? Would you argue for jewellery to be included but exclude, say, functional crafts from the fine arts (as you talked about jewellery being non-functional)?
A. I mean, what we are doing here is incredibly elitist.  I can't do anything with this. By making jewellery I am part of the elite. I think it doesn't really matter whether you want to call jewellery art or not. Work is work. Any kind of creative thing, like this, should make you feel grateful. There are just a few people in the world who can make their livelihood from making things.

24 AUG 2012. 17:35

Q. If there was no metal left in the universe, which other material(s) you would like to be dealing with? -Oyku
A. I really like wood. Ebony in particular. It's smooth and it's workable and you can really rely on it to do what it has done in the past. And plastics piss me off. 

24 AUG 2012. 17:30

Q. I read you like Grimes (band)... so there's new video for song genesis. Did you see it? They are accused for being too artsy and posers... Do you believe in such term as "too artsy"?
A. You can be over dramatic. You can be too artsy. I don't know that I agree with that term but you can be crass and over dramatic but if it was true experimental for you so you can't really be too artsy.  It's an overused term. 

24 AUG 2012. 17:21

Q. How would you make "Life" concept??
A. Nice question. That's no fair, whatever I say now I'll think of something better in ten minutes. I'd try to make my understanding of everyone's life into one piece. I would have to figure out what the outstanding characteristics of life were and then go from there. But I am not sure I could even do that. I am not one of the serious thinkers in society, so for me to figure out what defines human life is impossible.

24 AUG 2012. 17:19

Q. Was the rabbit fur a species-specific decision, or a tactile
A. Tactile. We had them, and I didn't want to waste them and they had that soft inviting feeling that really worked. They seemed perfect.

24 AUG 2012. 17:17

Q. For all co-workers... How do you feel when finishing this project?
A. Relieved and happy.

24 AUG 2012. 16:38

Q. Curators, shop assistants, and so forth: What draws you in about Kyle, his work, and his vision?
A. That's all down to our brilliant intern Henk!  He introduced us to the work and we felt it was so perfect for the show that we invited him in and loved the humanity in the work and we fell for his discussions on value; namely that Kyle feels the real value to a piece is not what monetary associations there are but what we bring to the work. 

24 AUG 2012. 16:35

Q. What metal are you using dude
A. We've used loads of metals; copper, brass, bronze, gold, silver, a couple different alloys. 

24 AUG 2012. 16:31

Q. How long did it take you to refine your art to what it is now? For example why did you chose to do jewellery? And by the way I love your work, keep it up.
A. How long did it take? 12-15 years before I had the confidence to really do this. 

24 AUG 2012. 15:19

Q. You're displaying in London this year, any plans to take the Kyle Hopkins crew on the road to other international shows?
A. We are going to Paris the 28 of September to the beginning of October and we are doing London of course and we just got our first Chinese stockist so we might do something there.

24 AUG 2012. 14:53

Q. I will write to you. I will leave you my ring Will. Charlie can have the pearls and rest...
A. Will says, "great. that's in writing then!"

24 AUG 2012. 14:43

Q. How is it being an American in the UK? Do people underestimate you before they see your work, because of your "American-ness"? Bradley
A. Constantly.  Yes. A lot of people think I am ditsy and stupid, but I like proving them wrong. 

24 AUG 2012. 14:35

Q. when creating sth do you clearly know what you're doing and how it's going to end up? do you sketch before "sculpting" sth?
A. Yes. I draw a lot and I get into the material and figure out what's going on. And then about 12 seconds into working with material I realise that the material is going to dictate. 

24 AUG 2012. 14:31

Q. If you weren't in the creative field what job would you do, do you think? I say pilot...
A. My little brother wants to be a pilot. I think I'd want to be a surgeon. I like the pressure and the idea of healing people.

24 AUG 2012. 14:30

Q. What's it like in ShowStudio? We can't imagine the space - Pam and Laura
A. Hot as hell. Itchy and covered in brass. It's a great atmosphere. The people at SHOWstudio are really cool. And these big stunning windows are lovely. 

24 AUG 2012. 14:28

Q. Is that sandwich nice?
A. It's delicious.

24 AUG 2012. 14:05

Q. Would you ever go into making sculptures? Do you care about wearability of your designs?
A. I got a minor in sculpture at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I would definitely like to work in different disciplines and transcend jewellery but I really care about wareability. A sculpture isn't going to come with you. 

24 AUG 2012. 13:53

Q. do you think it would be better to show what you are doing from the other side of the bench? Chris and David shaw say hi too.
A. Yo. I love you guys. 

24 AUG 2012. 13:16

Q. What is a death mask? What exactly are you making and what's the meaning of it?
A. What's going on here, is that there will be a death mask on our mannequin, Manuel. The skull of death will be connected to the back.  Cascading down from them, will be rabbit fur. I will be painted black and holding an apathy bat. It's a metaphor for death and understand and accepting death during life. 

24 AUG 2012. 13:11

Q. If you were a superhero who would you be?
A. Not superman, he's a goodie too shoes. Iron man and Batman are out because they have money. Aqua man's outfit is ridiculous. Hulk you don't want the kind of pressure. Spiderman is a joke. Will would be a member of the thunderbirds. Thundercats are cool. 

24 AUG 2012. 12:52

Q. A lot of people are disgusted by the fact you are using human teeth. Do you enjoy that type of reaction? What reaction do you strive for? What do you want people to think?
A. I mean, we all have teeth. They really aren't that disgusting. If you have a dead man and you don't know who he is, you pull out his teeth and his dental records and that's how you determine his identity. They are imprints of people.  I am not trying to gross anyone out. The symbolism of teeth is important. 

24 AUG 2012. 12:40

Q. (in a thick fake Scottish accent...) Yalreet there big manni? Don't suppose you're free for Notting Hill on Monday? Heres a proper question, if you had to design one artefact for an alien race to discover independent of human contact, what would it be and why? Francis Ford Crappola
A. You need to look into a project by one of my buddies Jack Cardno. He calls it Adam and Eve mach two. We are all dead, post huge apocalypse. And you try to work out what you would teach Adam and Eve if we could start over. What you would tell them? Would you want to teach them about hitler? Morality? 

24 AUG 2012. 11:30

Q. How does it feel to craft your own death mask cause normally they are being made after you die. Does it feel like working on self portrait?
A. It's really, really interesting. It does kind of make you focus on death.  However I feel about death, is irrelevant now. I am free to experience life and passion and everything freely. It's weird banging my own face with a hammer, it's nice to know that if death happens I am okay with it.

24 AUG 2012. 11:17

Q. Have you every tried any other art forms?
A. Yeah. Loads of them. I went to art school twice so you do loads of things. 

24 AUG 2012. 11:14

Q. You seem like you've got a great relationship with your mum. What did your parents say when you told them you are going to London to study jewellery design? What do they think now?
A. They didn't think I was going to do through with it. But then I did. And they have been nothing but supportive. My mother is one of the strongest, giving women. Maybe even the most strong and giving woman I have ever met. I am pretty damn sure that no one will ever love me like she does. I love you mum. 

24 AUG 2012. 11:04

Q. Is that a real skull?
A. I actually couldn't get my hands on a real dead person. It's a medical skull.

24 AUG 2012. 11:02

Q. How was your experience in Saint Martins?
A. Good.

24 AUG 2012. 11:01

Q. If you could sum up your experience on SHOWstudio with one word, what word would that be?
Kyle: Rad
Adam: Bitchin
Will: Amaz-Balls

23 AUG 2012. 18:48

Q. Will's Dad hasn't any sensible questions to ask but is intrigued and would just like to know if you are all enjoying the experience and if everything is going to plan?
A. Why are you at home on Friday? Yeah, we were a little bit tense. We kinda thought we should have gotten a little more done, but we got in early this morning and got a lot done. 

23 AUG 2012. 17:41

Q. You're doing an amazing job Carrie.
A. Thanks Matt-Carrie.

23 AUG 2012. 17:39

Q. He has wacky but beautiful way of expressing himself or his thought process - I have never personally seen any of his work - just tuned in... and so far I like what I'm seeing, he should use wadding to shape the mannequins head to his own. that might give a better fit when putting it back on his head. Could you ask him for his website, or Facebook? Sean
A. and twitter @kylehopkins

23 AUG 2012. 17:34

Q. Who is the other gentleman that is not Will or Kyle?
A. Adam Henderson. 

23 AUG 2012. 17:30

Q. What's so wrong with naked? Art done well is pretty naked. Death is pretty nekkid lol!!
A. Naked is awesome. I just don't like it when people don't respect the fact that they are influencing 9 year olds all over the world.

23 AUG 2012. 17:16

Q. Do you approach clothing designers for collaborations or do you wait for them to ask you Matt
A. I wait because you know I am kind of different and kind of weird. I am weirdly out of the box so I cannot assume that anyone wants to work with my style. 

23 AUG 2012. 17:14

Q. Love your choice in music... Has/does it influenced your design process? If so, how? Michael Concrete Wardrobe in Edinburgh
A. Music is really important in my work.  This just makes you happen An album I always go back to is Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. It'll take me away. Like in rush hour, I'll listen to something and can be transported. Oh and THIS song.  I am not ashamed to admit I have cried to this song.  It's Marvin Gaye.

23 AUG 2012. 17:13

Q. Is this music mix geared towards your subject matter or just designed to get you 'down to business?'
A. This is just a mix we threw together. Hardly designed. It's almost random.

23 AUG 2012. 17:05

Q. I think you should sell your shirt to the highest
A. This is my favourite shirt. Bidding will therefore start at £200!

23 AUG 2012. 17:03

Q. We could see his heart more IF HE TOOK HIS TOP OFF PLEASE. THANKS in advance Kyle...
A. He will tomorrow! Tune in.

23 AUG 2012. 17:00

Q. Kyle, What has my brother (will) been like as an apprentice of sorts?
A. The kid's learning so quick. 

23 AUG 2012. 16:43

Q. Along the lines of the ring, and what just happened onscreen, are 'mistakes' an integral part of your artistic process...?
A. There are both good and bad accidents.  I try to be open to change and the process. 

23 AUG 2012. 16:34

Q. You were talking about changes in the world of jewellery in the past. However, how do you think the world of jewellery is going to change in the future?
A. I can't say exactly how but it's going to be a lot different. I think you'll be able to download it, not buy it. You'll be able to customise it and make it your own. I think the materials will change.  Look at Nike and Apple. Soon I will be able to create a piece that shows you what's happening in your heart. 

23 AUG 2012. 16:32

Q. How do you balance your desire to create artistically expressive pieces (such as this project) and translating these concepts into a collection for the consumer market
Will: I guess to a point that's something we are still to understand. We make things that Kyle designs just cos we like it. We think it's cool so we think it will sell. 
Kyle: You do understand that there is money behind things, bills to pay. But I don't make jewellery cos it's going to make me money. i would have done something else if I wanted to be rich.
Will: There is a balance between the whole thing. I'm not sure we really get it to be honest! Good and fair question though.

23 AUG 2012. 16:17

Q. Do you work from research?
A. I do, but then my ideas come from everything. Sometimes I'll do loads of research other times I'll just see a couple kiss and then be like 'fuck yer jewellery'. Like my Jack and Fran series, that's about my best friend Jack and his girlfriend Fran, they are just so adorably in love.

23 AUG 2012. 15:57

Q. Do you think that death and religion are always good themes for an artist to wrap his/her work with?
A. Depends if there is something that is original to say about it. It's as simple as that. 

23 AUG 2012. 15:52

Q. You said that if you had million dollar you would make 'real crazy shit'. What was the most crazy idea you never got a chance to execute?
A. That's a ridiculous question! I'd build buildings and landscapes. But if I had endless money no-one would work anymore! But more realistically if I had a budget of 1.5 million I would just open schools and stuff. I wouldn't make a sculpture, I'd open a school.
But in terms of projects I've always wanted to do some buildings. I'd love to do a library. I'd really like to introduce technology to jewellery. You have shoes that can help you run, I want to bring stuff like that to jewellery. Making jewellery more intimate through technology.
Will: I'd make a car. I'd get a real old vintage car. Do it up real nice - none of this Pimp My Ride shit.

23 AUG 2012. 15:32

Q. What do you see yourself making over the next couple of weeks?
A. I see myself getting through Fashion Week without dying. And putting out a huge order. 

23 AUG 2012. 14:45

Q. How did you guys end up in a team? Do you always work together?
Kyle: Will just moved into my flat and we just got on like a house on fire.
Will: We live and work together and we still don't hate one another.
Kyle: I sleep almost every night cos of this guy. He's fucking good at making jewellery too.

23 AUG 2012. 14:42

Q. That's quite a harsh thing to say about Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian though, we all have their own ways of expressing ourselves and being free but fair enough you have your own opinion. What do you think about the recent images of a naked Prince Harry then?
A. Good on him. Harry is a hard example. He is a Royal so it's different. He wasn't trying to make money off it. People are watching him and he knows that.  

23 AUG 2012. 14:13

Q. In fact, relative aesthetics? explain please JV.
A. It's kind of like the idea that I will see something and I will say it's great.  But that's because of how I was raised. But then Adam might look at it and say it's ugly because his mother said that it was awful.  It's the individual's perception of beauty. 

23 AUG 2012. 14:09

Q. What do you think makes good jewellery? This question is for anyone of you to answer really...
Adam: I like it when there is more to it visually. More detail. More elements.
Will: I think it's quality that's most important. Links should be closed. Finish should be perfect.  Background, and concept are important but so is that way the work is made.
Kyle: There's a company that does things without soldering it properly. 

23 AUG 2012. 13:32

Q. What do you think about relative aesthetics? Is it working only for famous people? :)
A. There are so many different views of what is beautiful. When you look at someone like Pandomonia, he puts on this massive costume dress, of a Roy Liechtenstein like woman and he addresses the surface value of the work. And he comments on how celebrities create our ideas of beauty. So yes, relational aesthetics exist. But for me, they aren't working right now personally.  Our culture right now  says that Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are stunning, but they are not that beautiful to me. What's beautiful is a woman who can stand up for herself and is strong and knows her own mind.  Not a woman who puts out a sex tape of herself.  That's disgraceful. And a worrying state of society.

23 AUG 2012. 12:57

Q. Are you guys single?
A. Who's asking? 

23 AUG 2012. 12:53

Q. Why have you based yourself ere in London, do you feel London is more responsive to your style or work?
A. I love London. I came here for school and there is something incredible about the UK. I mean look at the NHS. In the States people don't have the decency to take care of other people - here you do. It's just shows how fucking cool English people are. At the moment it is just like a shit storm of cool stuff happening in London. I mean look at SHOWstudio you wouldn't get somewhere like this elsewhere.

23 AUG 2012. 12:52

Q. You started silver-smithing at such a young age. How do you feel your work has evolved over time, especially studying in London?
A. Yeah there is a huge change. Jewellery is so many little tasks and small tiny things. The challenge for me has always been getting past technique. It took me a decade and a half just to get past thinking abut how to make things. Once I started to get past thinking about how to actually do things I really started to speak with jewellery. I had enough words that I could build sentences then paragraphs

23 AUG 2012. 12:50

Q. Have you ever had an idea for a project in your head which you couldn't realise?
A. Always. You dream in the craziest thing you can ever dream up and then you scale it down. It always comes down to budget.

23 AUG 2012. 12:17

Q. how often do you make mistakes?
A. Every single day. Every hour. If you're not making mistakes, you're not living.

23 AUG 2012. 12:07

Q. is this the new Kyle and will show?
A. Will's response was, "I'm just in the background." Kyle said that he'd love that. 

23 AUG 2012. 12:01

Q. Are you scared of dying? Have you ever come close?
A. Yeah, of course I have come close.  At least twice a week. I light something on fire. Or walk into a car and Will saves me. I don't really see a point in fearing death. It's the most demographic thing. We all have to do it. There's an uncertainty. But it shouldn't be feared.

23 AUG 2012. 11:35

Q. Looking good guys, nice V-neck Kyle. How is working with Gold in comparison to riding a bike on a hot summers day? Cheers
A. Hi! Thanks for watching.

23 AUG 2012. 11:34

Q. What artist or Jewellery designers inspire you?
A. Gijs Bakker and Otto Kunzli were this amazing activists for jewellery back in the 70s.  And, though it's cliched, Basquiat is amazing.

23 AUG 2012. 11:22

Q. What do you see yourself more as, an artist or a jewellery designer?
A. That's kind of like saying an artist or a painter. A jeweller is a fine art.

23 AUG 2012. 11:19

Q. Kyle, where did you grow up? Where's you mum?
A. Seattle. She's in Seattle too. 

23 AUG 2012. 11:19

Q. How did you three meet?
A. I was living in London, and Will moved into my flat and we then met Adam up in Glasgow and we thought he was dope and we asked him to come back jewellery with us.

23 AUG 2012. 11:05

Q. What's his favourite piece he has ever made?
A. Not because of the piece, but because of the way a person wares something really effects me. I gave something to my birth mum a while back and she cried. Her reaction was important.  Not the piece. But the reaction.

23 AUG 2012. 11:03

Q. What was the happiest, saddest, the most exciting point of your carrier?
You get turned down constantly. It's hard to hear from the big stores that you're too conceptual or too small. But at the same time you have to take pride in you. Jay Z said it perfectly it's you. Getting turn down hurts.
A. Happiest? It's just knowing that I can keep doing this.  This is my job.  It's amazing.
We had a great little write up in Dazed & Confused, it's called Dazed and Approved. You can't fake your way into that. You don't get put in cause you're friends with someone.  They choose and that was exciting. But really, every time someone says that they like what I do, it's so exciting.

23 AUG 2012. 10:57

Q. What was your first memory of you as a jewellery designer, what was the first piece you made?
A. Realistically, it was probably some terrible macaroni necklace, but I definitely have pieces I made in the beginning like a Che Guevara.  I remember doing my first production run of something for my Dad for Christmas. My folks are dentist and back in the day they used to do fillings with gold foil - they don't do that anymore - and so when it became redundant they gave a bunch to me and  I remember making this basic oval that I then melted gold onto and then I added jewels onto it. It was terrible.  

23 AUG 2012. 10:38

Q. When did you realise you wanted to be an accessory designer?
A. Um. I don't know. It was always there. It was a way to disappear. 

23 AUG 2012. 10:38

Q. Which themes do you explore in your work?
A. Mainly for me, I try to keep an eye on the original ideas that explore what value and worth might be.  Be that context, or history. There are a lot of things that give jewellery meaning and value and I like exploring that. Value is imbued by the owner so not matter what I do, no matter what meaning I put into the work, that will never be worth as much as what the act of giving a piece of jewlry to someone or buying a special thing for yourself..

23 AUG 2012. 10:38

Q. Do you have a muse, if not, who are you designing for in your mind's eye?
A. Yeah. Well. It depends on the project. When I do collection work, then yea, definitely I have had really heavy muses in the past.  With this collection for instance, I found this scrapbook back in the US that a 14 year old had put together and I saw this image of an actress that I'd never seen before and it struck me.  Sometimes girlfriends affect the work. And when I find a muse I get excited because the collection ends up being really passionate and intense. 

23 AUG 2012. 10:34

Q. What is you preferred material to use?
A. Gold is like butter? It's juicy. It's delicious. It doesn't stick to anything. It is just a dream. But it's just too expensive. But in the apocalypse I'd rather have a bucket of water. 

22 AUG 2012. 13:32

Q. Have you ever visited Mexico for the day of the dead festival?
A. No. I haven't. But I want to.

2 AUG 2012. 11:23

Q. In your opinion, what do you think is the most important thing to do to transform your art from being grotesque and/or gruesome to actually being a work of art?
A. Right. I don't want to just answer this one straight-up and come up with bullshit. Give me 30 seconds.  So, when something is like crass and grotesque, it is simple in its mission of doing one thing. Things can rise above and beyond a singular meaning, they transcend. Think of Iron Man. They represent so much more than just a single thing. And that makes them beautiful.  

Editorial Direction:
Film Edit:
Adam Richardson
Technical Supervision:
Technical Assistance and Imagery:
Camera Assistance:
Gallery Assistance:



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