Artist spotlight: Kyle Lambert

by Dinah Hillsdon

posted on 09-22-2017

If you’ve not seen Kyle Lambert’s artwork it’s pretty safe to say you’ve missed out on one of the best series of the past few years, ‘Stranger Things’. His distinctive, slightly retro style is infused with fantasy and magic, and yet there’s also an element of realism; an illustrative hybrid that has no doubt contributed to his international success. As our Visual Trends artist for September (stay tuned for his aspirational demo later this month!), we spoke to him to find out more:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?

My name is Kyle Lambert and I am an Illustrator / Digital Artist. I was born in Manchester, England and now live and work in Los Angeles.

I originally trained as a traditional artist, painting portraits with oils on canvas. I transitioned my skill-set over to digital 10 years ago when I first got the opportunity to try a Wacom tablet in combination with Adobe Photoshop. Since then I’ve been building a career as a professional illustrator, specializing in artwork for advertising in the entertainment industry.

Your work on the Stranger Things Netflix series catapulted you to design stardom, how did that project come about?

In 2011, I created a poster for the J. J. Abrahams movie, Super 8. The poster had a retro illustrated quality that was reminiscent of the classic 80’s movie posters. 5 years later, the team at Netflix saw this poster and felt the style would be a good fit for their upcoming TV series, Stranger Things. During the project I had a lot of fun experimenting with brushes in Photoshop to perfect the hand drawn illustrated style. At that time I had no idea the series would become so successful, but I was excited about working on a Netflix original series.

How does it feel seeing your artwork on display everywhere?

It’s amazing to be able to drive around L.A. and see my artwork on billboards and to find t-shirts, action figures and other merchandise in stores that I normally visit. I feel very lucky to be associated with such a widely loved show.

What would be your dream project to work on, or client to work with?

Since Stranger Things, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of the large movie studios in Hollywood. It’s been the realization of a childhood dream and my hope is that I am fortunate enough to keep working on fun projects like this.

How would you describe your style?

I’ve never limited myself to just one style, because I enjoy the challenge of experimenting and exploring new methods with each project that I work on. I do, however, think that there are qualities within my work that are consistent between projects. I place a lot of emphasis on composition, color and lighting with a keen eye for detail. Sometimes I lean towards realism and other times I like to work a little more loose or stylized.

What’s been your biggest challenge to overcome in the design industry?

I think the biggest challenge that any artist faces is getting their work seen. I had big ambitions to work on movies, and it took me 10 years to get there. It was a very gradual process, working hard to do the best work I possibly could and choosing the right projects to get my work into the world.

What are your perceptions of stock images, and do you think the perception is changing?

Some may say that using stock is a lazy way of designing. In my opinion, stock images play an important role in digital art, because it’s not always possible to go out and shoot all of the references or assets that you need first hand. If selected carefully and integrated seamlessly, stock can be a powerful tool to add a new dimension to your artwork.

What features did you most like the most about using Adobe Stock?

As an artist who usually draws things exactly how I want them, it was important for me to be able to find the best image possible to realize my idea. The tools in Adobe Stock really helped me refine my searches to return manageable amounts of relevant results. In particular, the color filtering of results allowed me to find similarly colored sunsets and mountains that would be easy to blend together.

Above: Kyle’s exclusive artwork for Adobe Stock, based on the theme “Once Upon a Time”_

What recommendations do you have for designers looking to get their work noticed by acclaimed clients?

Initially the key is to have a strong portfolio with several examples of the type of work that you are interested in doing. Sometimes this will mean doing your own personal projects until you are able to include real world examples. After working on a couple of commercial projects your work will likely start being seen and should lead to new clients discovering your work.

What music do you currently listen to whilst working (if any!)

I really love the combination of music and movies, so I listen to a lot of movie scores while I work. I listen to a lot of the music that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross produced for David Finchers movies, the scores Hans Zimmer created for Christopher Nolan’s movies and the back catalog of music by John Williams.

A big thank you to Kyle for taking the time to speak with us. To discover more of his work, check out his website and find him on Behance.

Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends

Products: Stock, Photoshop, Creative Cloud