"I walked into the bank the other day and did a double-take" said Kalynn Campbell describing his latest experience running into his own work in a place never intended. "It was on the back of this guy's leather jacket." The devil image from his oft-copied GET OUT OF HELL FREE card had been painted on a jacket. A couple of months before, he had walked into the Auditorium in Hollywood California and found a drawing he once did for Iloki Records blown up from ceiling to floor in fluorescent paint on the wall.
Campbell's clear eye-catching images have tempted numerous copy-catters to call his work their own. His STRIPPER'S LAMENT book of sketches, sold through the mail during leaner times, has even led to his images being used in advertising for a major video distributor. It's not surprising his work has been surreptitiously co-opted, as he has done illustration work for such notables as Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Mickey Heart -- he even worked on Billy Idol's Christmas cards one year.
Campbell's move from rock illustration to fine art was facilitated by famed painter Robert Williams, who helped him get his foot in the door at the Zero One on Melrose, Hollywood's alternative blue-chip gallery. At his first show there, he displayed a painted human skull next to a painting of Williams's. "It's kind of small, don't you think? That could walk right out the door!", teased Williams, eager to upset his protégé. Campbell worried all night that his piece would be whisked out the door under someone's coat, but instead it sold and he's been showing at the Zero One ever since.
His work has never hung on the Zero One's walls long, often walking out with such Hollywood notables as Nicholas Cage, Eric Burden and John Waters (as well as Record tycoons Rick Rubin and Brett Gurewitz). He does have one problem though. "Some women find my work offensive," he laments. "Dennis Hopper came in and bought this one huge painting - it was a dead cannibal on an Indian motorcycle. He had it for a few days but I heard his girlfriend made him bring it back." In fact, Campbell has had this problem with a few of his pieces, but he takes it in stride. "Women don't really collect art much, anyway." he says, tongue-in-cheek.
Campbell was honored to have his piece "The Erotic Dreams of Robert Williams" included in Laguna Art Museum's 'Kustom Kulture" show, though he himself did not attend until the show was well under way. "I didn't find out about the show until someone actually saw my piece in it. The Museum tried to call me to tell me about the Opening, but I had just moved and never got the message." Ah, this game of art.
The father of fine-art game boards, Kalynn Campbell's work, though sometimes hard to tell, consists exclusively of games. Some are dart boards, some are game boards (a la Monopoly, for instance). This hook, too, has found it's imitators. One Company in San Francisco now deals exclusively in "artistic game board art".
Game-creator or Game-player? Only the cards know for sure.