One of Kris Kupskay’s next projects is a mural on a 22 ft by 80 ft wall on a Special Affects warehouse in Burnaby.
For the last five years, or so, Kupskay, known as Kups, has been a full time artist, and though recently that means he will paint anything he can get his hands on, it often means full scale projects like another he is working on in Port Moody–a 85 ft by 15 ft wall for a bakery.
And, at the end of September, he will be creating a mural at Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery as well as doing live art for LUNA Noctural Art and Wonder on Sept. 29.
“Murals are the best,” he said. “There is something about the size, the macro-size punch you get.”
Since he was a kid Kupskay has been painting on walls.
“Growing up, my mom was amazing, she was a primary teacher, it was arts and crafts time all the time with her,” he said.
She let him paint on his bedroom walls.
“I feel like that is where the mural thing really started,” he said.
Kuspkay began painting professionally in 2007. In the beginning it was mostly murals and his medium of choice was spray paint.
From there he branched out.
“People kind of run with assumption that you can paint anything, that you posses these magic powers and skills and they ask you to all these crazy things and then eventually you kind of take on, or want to do them yourself,” he said.
One of his favourite recent projects was designing Olympic gold medalist, Jamie Anderson’s snowboard for the upcoming season. Anderson won gold in the 2018 Olympics in the slope style competition in South Korea.
“She was an absolute delight to work with,” he said. “Anything where there is that human interaction and somebody really cares and is passionate about the piece they are doing or is getting created and you can really see and feel them in the outcome, turns into an instant favourite.”
Kupskay is so busy he has the luxury of turning down projects.
Based in Whistler, he quickly ran out of local walls to paint, and now does a lot of travelling for work.
The process starts with initial contact from a client, and either a visit or photograph of the site. From there Kupskay does thumbnail sketches of the concept, collaborating with the client, but reserving as much freedom and creativity as possible, because things will change once he gets to work.
“I really have to see it on the wall,” he said. “A lot of the energy transfer and the creativity comes from the actual process of painting for me.”
Depending on the size and complexity of a project, it can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to complete, he said.
Kupskay starts by putting up an outline, with light coloured spray paint that won’t interfere with the final product. From there he fills out the mid-tones and large colour blocks. Once there is full coverage, the fun begins–the technical aspects of the work, such as colours and dimensions followed by continued refining, “until your stoked,” Kupskay said.
“I really dive in, I even forget to eat.”
At the end of the day he takes photos and spends the evening studying and preparing for the following day. It is this process, he says, that helps him know when a project is done.
“If you can answer the question of ‘did you paint your best piece, did you get this to where it needs to be?’,” he said. “And then for me I always ask ‘is it believable? is it enjoyable?’.”
Though, at the moment, he isn’t sure what the theme of the upcoming mural in Revelstoke will be, Kupskay said there will be some bottles.
“I want to get technical, I want it to pop, I want to get some dimension in there,” he said.
And he doesn’t want to disappoint, both the owner of the distillery and some of the LUNA organizers are long time friends.