Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter, etc.
Hello! My name is Kenneth, and about three years ago I moved from Los Angeles back home to San Jose to help my mother care for my lola (“grandmother” in Tagalog). One morning Lola and I were sitting at the kitchen table and I asked her, “What do you want to do today?” She said, “Something that is for a purpose.” We began to paint together. Lola starts each piece in watercolor, and then I add illustrations based on her stories and memories. Together, we’re The Lola x Kenneth Collaboration.
Lola passed last December. She made a lot of paintings. And they’re gifts. We have a lot of work left to do, and I’m going to see it through.
My grandma made the paintings.
I promise to finish everything she started.
What are your biggest challenges in creating art?
The biggest challenge I’m facing is adjusting to working alone. I can’t turn to Lola and ask her to explain what she painted. Instead, I treat her paintings like Rorschach tests—I’ll take a painting, stare at it, and brainstorm what I see in it. I have Lola’s sweet tooth, so to me most of her paintings look like Hostess products. I have the love handles to prove it. I used them to type this paragraph.
What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Now, I’ve never been to “the zone” myself, but as I understand it you can get there with any Maxwell track and a box of wine. Kidding. I play vinyl records and work in chunks of 20 minutes at a time to stay focused.
A day working in my studio—is that what we’re calling the dining table now?—is mostly spent talking to myself and sketching. (That sounds horrible now that I’ve written it out but I promise I’m a well-adjusted adult). Lola was prolific with her paintings. I am a turtle. I draw slowly because I’m not confident with a pen or pencil in my hand; I don’t have formal art training and I’m hard on myself when I can’t realize on paper what I picture in my head. So I like to take my time and think everything through before I fully commit. That probably explains why I’m single.
When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, look at or do to help find that idea or fuel your work?
Watch: Indie Game: The Movie
Listen To: “Gently” by You+Me
Look At: Lola’s box of photographs
Remember: When I was in grad school, I visited home one weekend and told Lola I was scared I wouldn’t graduate. I didn’t understand what I was studying, and I couldn’t keep up with the other students, who were brilliant. Lola said, “Why afraid? Discover. What is fear? You fight him.”
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have the worst attention sp
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative careers?
There is a difference between your job and your work. Your job is what you leave behind at the end of a day. But your work is what you leave behind at the end of a lifetime. Lola and I have counted change for customers at cash registers and stood all day folding clothes in department stores. Those are things we’ve done, but it’s not who we are. Lola and I are not our jobs. Lola and I are our work. We are everything we will leave behind.
Don’t worry about your job. Focus on your work.