There’s collage and then there’s Kalen Hollomon. The New York artist has taken the fashion world by storm with his provocative mixed media images that juxtapose day to day images with cutouts from fashion magazines and vintage pornography. He can make Rudy Giuliani the face of Céline, put heels on a subway cop, all seeking to explore and reveal the constant relativity of perception. “Above all,” says Hollomon. “I try to capture a sense of romance in images that are spontaneous and slightly unnerving.” He’s been snapped up by many for collaborations but most recently he partnered with Vogue for a project following Paris Fashion Week. Suffice it to say we’re just one of his 77,000 Instagram followers and totally obsessed. We caught up with him to find out more.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN ART? Sometime in elementary school, maybe fourth grade, one of my classmates, Juan Sandoval purchased a drawing of mine. He paid with fake school money but still, it was an eye opener. Last I heard Juan was robbing banks in Texas. Anyway, making art was my main focus throughout high school and college — I did anything that would keep me working in some artistic capacity, from writing bad graffiti to figure drawing classes. I attended three different colleges with decent art programs but I doubt I ever graduated. I’ve always tried to have jobs that allowed me some creative freedom. Right now I’m just working on art, all the time.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO USING MIXED MEDIA? Mixing mediums spawns new ideas and lends fresh perspectives to things. I’m always thinking about perspective and shifting perception. Collage — either photographic or using images on paper feels right and gives me a lot of freedom to do that. Even when I’m painting I tend to utilize a lot of layers and some found imagery. I like the act of adding or subtracting things and seeing how perspective and perception can change. Altering preconceived notions and exploring things that lie beneath the surface interests me.
WHAT DREW YOU TO FASHION AS SUCH A LART PART OF YOUR WORK TO EXPLORE THEMES OF COMMERCE GENDER AND SEXUALITY? I’ve always been really into fashion — of course I love how clothing can alter one’s perception of a person, or even alter how you perceive yourself. Fashion imagery often comes with such a strong story or vibe because of the designer, the brand-name, the photographer. I try to pay homage to the people who originally created “the story” when I work with fashion imagery and I’ve usually chosen something because it resonates with me. Fashion is constantly playing with themes of commerce, gender and sex and by altering those images, you can go pretty deep into some thought provoking terrain. Well, at least I hope so.