On Our Radar

Meet the Australian Artist Whose Work Blurs the Line Between Studio and Street

From walls to galleries, John Kaye’s work is filled with callbacks to his humble beginnings on the streets.
February 12, 2020, 8:48am
John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art
Photos By Darcy Campbell

Looking at Australian artist John Kaye’s expansive collection of work, you’d think it would take a lifetime to cultivate such a refined brushstroke. A lifetime isn’t far from the truth. John started his artistic endeavours over 15 years ago, which in the age of instant gratification and validation may as well be a millennium. From the bold line work to the broad swathes of colour, his art speaks to his years of practice.

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John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photo By Daphne Nguyen

Growing up on the Gold Coast, John started his foray into the art world after being enamoured by graffiti as a child, capturing colourful glimpses of throw-ups on passing trains. He started painting graffiti when he was 13 and has since developed a bold style that’s informed by the streets, but wouldn’t look out of place in a fine art collection.

John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photos By Darcy Campbell

John has since packed some of the artistic influence of Australia's busy city streets and brought it with him to "The Land of The Morning Calm." Most recently based in Seoul, John’s growing body of studio and public work are also a strong testament to his personal growth: “It's been gradual but constant. The biggest change I've felt is that [my art has] gone from being something I saw as a way to escape from reality, into being almost the opposite. A way to be more in the world.”

We had the privilege to pick John’s brain and found self-awareness and penguins. Read his On Our Radar interview to learn more.

John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photo by Daphne Nguyen

I believe that… Everything matters.

My friends say I am… Working too much.

But I like to think I am… Doing something important.

I've been working on… My painting. I'm always working on paintings in one way or another, that's what everything I do comes back to. This year I'm making a new book with a close friend and an amazing photographer that I feel really excited about. I'm working on my first proper movie and looking forward to releasing that soon hopefully. I'm also working on a few personal slower projects surrounding portraiture and travel that are starting to take shape in a way that feels right.

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John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photos By Darcy Campbell

I am inspired by… Things that have an obvious human element. I like photography, graffiti, music and anything with noticeable energy to it. I'm inspired by people and the way we live through things and how we exist and react.

Recently I've been really into… Penguins, researching my heritage and trying to find out where I come from, space and earth and the ocean and all the things I don't understand about it and Cecilia Bartoli.

John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photos By Darcy Campbell

You can usually find me at… My studio, unless I’m travelling. I love being there. I wish I had a more exciting answer but if I’m not on the road, I spend as much time as I can there these days.

On bad days, I… Breathe, write, run, paint and read. Mostly paint though, it's how I make sense of things and how I work through whatever is happening. I think it's good to be occupied and productive but still conscious and self-aware. I try to avoid anything that feels like I'm switching off and just allow myself the time to work through things more honestly.

John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

Photos By Darcy Campbell

I live for… Everyone that's gone that doesn't have the opportunity to finish what we started.

In five years, I will be… Working hard to create the things I care about, surrounded by the people I love. I want to keep making art and learning and embracing everything that happens. I don't want to know exactly where I'm going, I just know how I want to feel – I want to be healthy and energised and motivated and excited and doing whatever feels right in good company forever.

John Kaye, Art, Graffiti, Illustration, Painting. Australia, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Korea, Seoul, VICE, On Our Radar, Radar, Canvas, Oil, Paint, Studio, Streets, Hypebeast, Street dreams, Daphne, Nguyen, Darcy Campbell, Penguins, Collection, Fine art

You can find John Kaye on Instagram and his Website.