Kevin Fredericks is not very good with a paintbrush. He likes doing art that he feels anyone can do. He almost always values the work he puts into a piece more than the finished product itself. He doesn’t labor over his art too much.
“As Bukowski said, a poem, like any piece of art, is like a hot beer shit,” he says. “If you start thinking of yourself as an artist, you are bound to become a bit pompous.”
Whether or not Fredericks is an artist, he plays with death. He keeps many of his artistically altered cigarettes in a Chinese food to-go box.
The fragile pieces of colorful carcinogens contain subject matter ranging from the light-hearted to subjects you should pontificate at your own risk.
“Every cigarette represents an idea and making them is a way of working through ideas for me,” says Fredericks. “For instance, I was thinking a lot about bondage, so I meticulously wrapped a cigarette up with rope.”
Some of his other pieces are as soft as “Just Plaid,” which is simply a plaid pattern using green, pink and orange. Other pieces touch on social and political topics, like “Western Thought,” which illustrates linear thinking by coating a cigarette brown except for a thin, straight line of negative space running the length of it. Still others take on an aesthetic priority, like “Blue Tree,” which uses multimedia elements to add depth to what appears to be a nature-inspired still-life.
Fredericks says his ideas have grown quite a bit in the four years since he began illustrating cigarettes while he was in high school. Fredericks, who does not smoke, would cynically “christen” his friends’ cigarettes before they were smoked. While the ritual has changed, Fredericks still appreciates seeing one of his beauties burn.
“The best gesture a person can make is to pick the cigarette that touches her or speaks to him the most and smoke it,” he says. “By taking one of these cigarettes and putting it into your life you are relieving me from the weight of old thoughts and ideas.”
The process, or method, of working through ideas is paramount to Fredericks when producing artwork.
“The methodology is the way by which we can convey the mmmmmness of our existence,” he says. Whether he is illustrating a cigarette, writing a song or creating anything else, Fredericks wants the methodology of the creative process to be as individual as the ideas themselves.
“The only freedom lies in not creating anything in a certain, or particular, way,” he says. “To make it as clear as water, the reason that every cigarette is different is not because I desire each one to be different, although I occasionally do. Each cigarette is different because every innumerable moment which is contained in the creation of each cigarette is pulling me closer to one particular spot. The closer I get to one spot, I naturally begin to see other, vague, obscured and infinitely attractive smudges of light on the horizon. So begins the wanderlust that is evident in every unique cigarette.”