Kyle Bolton


Today Kyle Bolton, artist of Smash: Trial by Fire, joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Illustrator! Kyle has been drawing since the age of four, although Smash is his first professional comic work. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, and has worked for a variety of game companies creating 2D and 3D animations. Kyle is a true Seattleite, whose daily activity includes a trip to the dog park powered by coffee and imagination.

Smash has received several awards and nominations including:

Junior Library Guild selection, 2014 Children’s Choices Book Award winner, 2013 Oregon Spirit Book Award winner, 2014 Black-Eyed Susan Award nominee,  and 2014 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens nominee.

How did you get started as an illustrator?

I first started by trying to copy my older brother, Chris.  He drew before I did.  And he was quite good too.  He made it look so easy and fun.  I just had to try it.  And once I did, I was hooked. 

Who influenced you?

My earliest influences for drawing were Norman Rockwell and Chuck Jones. As a young kid, I grew up watching all the Warner Bros. cartoons directed by Jones. I came across Rockwell by accident one day and fell in love with his vivid, highly detailed style with incredibly expressive faces. It felt like a window into my soul and how I saw the world.   

Do you have a favorite artist/subject/medium?

My current favorite artist is J.C. Leyendecker.  He worked for the Saturday Evening Post, creating covers before Rockwell started.  He was an incredibly gifted storyteller and a master of his own distinctive style.  

I love the subject of history. I always look to the past for inspiration.

I still love the medium of pencil, pen, and ink.  It’s old-school and still the easiest way for me to express my ideas. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an illustrator?

First of all, you have to really love to draw. Not just get to the end of the drawing and sign it, but working with that illustration until it’s exactly how you want it.  And not being afraid to scrap it, erase, and start all over again if necessary.  

Where is your favorite place to work?

My office here in Seattle. I have everything I need for reference and inspiration.  

What else would you like to tell us?

I’m currently in the middle of a couple of graphic novel projects, both of which I’m very eager to put together. So stay tuned!!

Kyle, thank you for spending six minutes with LitPick! We’re looking forward to seeing your next graphic novels!