Brighton-based artist Kieron Cropper earns his surname in his craft, cutting and cropping magazines, books, and photographs and making them into surreal collages that are more than the sum of their parts. Under the name CUR3ES, he creates cosmic worlds inspired by the acid-infused album art that informed his childhood. His repertoire ranges from fields that grow planets, to beautifully reimagined kaleidoscopic women. Each work is salvaged from reams of analog mediums, filtered through his brain, and reassembled in Photoshop.
CUR3ES describes himself as having always been creative, but his rhythm popped when he discovered collage art in 2010. A year later, he had decided to pursue a career as an artist. He began by pitching the the gatekeepers of the record companies whose albums first inspired his creativity from a young age. His first gig was a few cassette tapes for a noise label called Tape Drift. "I used to obsess over album artwork and buy records based solely on the covers, so it would be cool to leave work that had a similar impact on someone else," he tells The Creators Project. This is a modest goal, considering that he now he does art for bands repped by Warner Music Group, art directed fashion shows, does editorial illustrations for online magazines, ads for Urban Outfitters, and more.
We spoke to CUR3ES to get a glimpse into his creative process and try to understand the psychedelia inside his head.
The Creators Project: How would you describe your style to someone who had never seen your art (and couldn't just check it out on their phone for some reason)?
CUR3ES: I’d say it’s slightly surreal, sometimes abstract, collage art that mixes mundane imagery into extraordinary settings.
What fuels you?
At the moment it’s Cheerios, but I guess you’re looking for something a bit deeper. To be honest, I’ve just always just had a passion for creating art and making stuff.
However, getting the opportunity to now work with other artists and musicians can be a big motivator, it really helps me to push my style and challenge the limitations of my work.
What software and hardware is in your artistic toolbox?
I use a mix of analog and digital techniques to create artwork, including: craft knives, vintage magazines, old books, photographs, scanned textures, and of course, Photoshop.
What was your first art / design job?
I think it was a couple of cassette covers for this experimental noise label called Tape Drift.
When did you realise you were going to be an artist?
Ha! Not sure I’ve realised it yet, but it’s certainly been an aspiration for a long time.
I’d always been pretty creative as a kid, but it wasn’t until around 2011-12 that I became interested in pursuing art as a career. That’s when I started putting out work, contacting record labels and pitching for projects.
Also, I think a lot of it had to do with discovering this big, underground, tape label and DIY music scene existed; finding lots of artists who were putting out all these self releases had a big impact on me. I realised that you can just get on and make stuff happen, without needing to worry all the time about whether artwork is 100% polished or finished.
What was your biggest breakthrough in defining your style?
Figuring out where to get a cracked copy of Photoshop!
No, I guess it was stumbling into the world of collage art. I’d always enjoyed drawing and painting, but sometime around 2010 I started experimenting with collage art and something just clicked for me. I became hooked on collage art and started creating more and more work.
I think it’s because there’s something quite challenging about the medium; it can be really playful, but it’s also restrictive, you’re totally reliant on the materials you find.
Who are you biggest visual artist influences?
I really like the artists: Storm Thorgerson, Jackson Pollock, Zach Collins, Leif Podhajsky, Gerard Stricher, David Delruelle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Tran, Eugenia Loli, Bryan Olson, and design studios like We Are Monsters, iWANT, Dowse Design, CMTRYZ, and If Destroyed Still True.
Who are your biggest non-visual artist influences?
I listen to a lot of music whilst creating work, so I think that ends up having an influence. At the moment it’s lots of: Clams Casino, Flying Lotus, Thee Oh Sees, Balam Acab, Kyuss, Iglooghost, Bollywood, and Boards of Canada.
How has living in Brighton affected your art?
Brighton’s a pretty cool place; for a small city there’s always loads of creative people doing weird and interesting things. There’s also a nice DIY attitude, where people just get on with it, and create things, without much pretension.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work? How will you leave your mark on the world?
I’d like to create artwork that a 12-year-old version of me would be really into! I used to obsess over album artwork and buy records based solely on the covers, so it would be cool to leave work that had a similar impact on someone else.
Do you have one work that you're really proud of or is particularly exemplary of your style?
The pieces I’m most proud of are the ones where I felt like I pushed myself, learnt something and developed my style a little.
A couple that spring to mind are: the Fu Manchu's Gigantoid album, the Mexico City Blondes' "Colors" single, and the 2014 Brighton Fashion Week cover.
What's next for you as an artist?
I’ve got a few more album covers and flyers for club nights on the horizon, plus a 30' stage banner to design and there’s some talk of a collaborative music app featuring some of my artwork.
I’m also looking to set up a print store soon, to offer limited runs on prints & t-shirt designs.
See more of CUR3ES work on his website.