Chicago’s art and design scene is thriving, street artists are being recognized and new things are appearing all around the city with every blink of an eye. It’s easy to find something you will relate to, but what about the artists themselves? We sat down with artist Kevin Demski - the force behind the Beverly community and one of Chicago’s under the radar talents.
Kevin has been transforming visions to reality for the past 5 years through sixtyfourcreative.com, now his work is on display at galleries, bars and shops around the city and beyond. While he attended art-focused schools and has a formal illustration and graphic design background, Kevin’s drive, talent and community involvement is what led him to the artist he has become.
Demski grew up on Chicago’s Southside and now resides near Beverly, a neighborhood so far south it’s often forgotten by popular city media and publications. Somehow, wherever you go, someone will recognize Kevin and chat him up. Self proclaimed introvert, he surely knows a ton of people. Cultivating relationships and building a tight community (tribe) is imperative to helping businesses strive and Kevin plays a vital role by opening up dialogue and nurturing connections to help the community grow and strive together.
Humble is an understatement. His signature skulls, dark humour and city references are keeping Kevin close to his roots of skateboarding and tagging buildings and trains when he was growing up. Demski’s first dream was to have his face on a skateboard, and once that was realized, he knew he’s made it.
Kevin recently had some of his pieces featured at Gallerie F for Chicago’s 181st birthday exhibition, Urbs in Horto II, along artists like Nate Otto, Antck, Bird Milk, Fedz, Red, Erik Lundquist and many more. You can also find his pieces hanging at B-Sides Coffee + Tea, Rock Island Public House (rooftop mural, interior design pieces) Nicky’s Grill & Yogurt Oasis, Open Outcry Brewery (window graphics), Arc Academy (metal print work), Jaunt in suburban Arlington Heights and Jerics Skateboard Shop (apparel and hardgoods).
"It's so silly…you gotta pop the bubble and go outside of that wall. You need to move with the times and people will start buying your stuff."
In the summer months, when Chicagoans refuse to stay inside and flock to street festivals for local fare of food, art and music, Kevin can be found marketing his products at outdoor markets providing the passersby with an array of modern/contemporary metal art. Mostly Chicago/City pride. Kevin greets everyone with a nonchalant grin and dives right into a conversation, beer in hand wrapped in a koozie with a SixtyFour Creative logo. It’s all about branding when you’re an emerging artist.
Demski just displayed his pieces at Rogues Gallery in Milwaukee, WI, and it’s just a matter of time Kevin’s work will be recognized in many other cities.
What were your early inspirations, or edge, living on the Southside?
My surroundings! Like most kids growing up I was hooked on morning cartoons and being outside. I would say that I had this freedom at a very early age to explore and figure out that there is a lot going on in the city and I found that just taking it all in and pushing some limits has helped me express the way I see things through my art & design.
When or how did you know this was the career path or creative path for you?
I wanna say I didn’t see this coming for the most part but that’s nuts cause I have wanted to create and design forever! Skateboarding really plays a strong part here. I learned that art can extend further than a flat drawing on paper, it can be boards clothing etc.. so around 15 years old I really started to push designs for that industry. My local shop worked with me and from there you have to reach out set you own path. I was able to sell some graphics early on and I was hooked. “You can’t live off making art” a common rant and laugh… I call bullshit!!!!!!!
Truth is I took a risk and gambled on myself, invested everything, got the right people in my corner with me, started grinding out ideas, slept less and started focusing. You can get shit done when you really apply all of yourself to it. Over the past 5 years I’ve put in the work and it looks like a lot of others have the same feelings I do towards creativity and placed some bets on me and now we’re cashing in…
If you can make a living doing what you love in Chicago you can make it anywhere. We have the strongest population with the toughest backbone so you have to hustle to make it here.
How important has your spouse been during this your road to living a creative life?
PRICELESS, I wouldn’t be where I am at without my wife Kyla and my creative circle, they are the reason I am out here doing my thing. My wife helps handle the business side of this adventure. I create and design and she makes sure the work is in its right place along with lending hands at my pop up shops, shows and events. She is my soundboard, bottomless think tank and the only person that sees and hears it all before anything hits the public eye. She is a big part of my success and in this game just as deep as I am…to say she gives a 110% is an understatement…Create & Destroy
How did you come up with Create & Destroy?
While many see this as a tagline, it’s actually my mission statement or motto of sorts. It’s like this.. I strive to put out my best work regardless of feeling or project (I guess that’s the create part) once that work is completed it’s my job to talk about it, promote it, and educate the viewers to gain the best response possible to each creative idea (this is the destroy part) to totally crush it.. TO WIN…to be on top, to destroy it.. (my motivative approach to creative success)
Since art is always progression of the artist, what would you like to create and destroy?
I’m open to entertain any creative adventure or try and help facilitate the ideas of others and make them happen. I just want to keep pushing the arts. I enjoy what I do and that’s the WIN! If I hand to lay my finger on a specific I’d love to just help keep making the arts public and accessible to everyone who is interested. MORE PUBLIC PIECES, MORE SHOWS & POP UP SHOPS.
Words by Ivy Tac
Interview by Touly Phiachantharath
Photos by Ivy Tac