Kirk Rutter, CEO of the Kirkcatures brand
I AM SURVIVOR
The year is 2016. Great Britain begins Brexit, Rio de Janeiro opens the doors to the Olympic Games, in the USA Donald Trump becomes president, NATO meets at the summit in Warsaw and the heads of the Roman Catholic Church and Russian Orthodoxy unite fraternally during a meeting in Cuba.
Against the backdrop of global events, the lives of billions of people begin and end. Against the backdrop of global events, the brand whose founder escapes death, wins the disease and is born to a new, regained life. Like Phoenix from the ashes. Against the backdrop of global events, each individual life is unique. Each life celebrates private games, reconciliations and victories. But today I will present this one. Inspirational, marked by suffering, breakdown, perseverance and success.
A modest and open-minded freelancer from Essex, living in accordance with the idea of a balance between a healthy body, mind and spirit. A characteristic, sympathetic and recognizable figure in the artistic world of Social Media.
Self-taught draftsman. Originator, founder, investor, owner, promoter and CEO of the Kirkcatures brand. Philanthropist and supporter of pro-social charity activities. Organizer of charity auctions for mental health.
Kirk Rutter, the man behind the Kirkcatures brand, in an interview with Fourth Son.
FS : The mentioned year 2016 brought you terrifying news. You have been diagnosed with cancer, which has diametrically opposed to your further life. “After the diagnosis, I slowly started losing the plot” - you say in one of the conversations. The aforementioned year 2016 gave rise to a new man whose works we can admire. Tell us about the path that led you to discover and develop your passion.
KR : It was in January, 2016 , Friday the 15th.
I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I had just turned fourty-four.
I went in to theatre next day to be operated on.
When a biopsy was tested they said that it was really aggressive form of testicular cancer and I was lucky It hadn’t spread. I was back home the same day with a sense of overwhelming gratitude to be alive and that I had caught the tumour early.
This overwhelming gratitude didn’t let me sleep.
Sixsteen days of hardly any sleep
Then I started to lose the plot.
Behaviour of the scale.
I was in the full flow bio polar mode, self destruction, no fear. Just acting out my thoughts, which was causing a lot of anxiety and fear to my family...
I ended up in rehab for three months after no sleeping and causing chaos.
And that was when I picked up a pencil drawing people’s faces. The last time I picked up a pen was when I was fourteen years old .. Thirty years ago.
FS : You talk openly about bipolar disorder that you are struggling with, living with, making friends with. Amy Winehouse suffered from her and Sting lives with her. Citing everethnews.pl “Bipolar disorder, called manic-depressive disorder, is a brain disorder. It usually manifests itself as manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. The disease is characterized by periodic changes in mood, from extreme emotions and overly brightly colored perceptions of the world to depression, during which the ill person perceives the world in black colors. BD is a disease which, through a series of unpredictable and disabling periods, significantly disorganizes everyday life and causes suffering not only for the patient but also for his family. “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 60 million people worldwide suffer from bipolar disorder. Please tell me about its influence on your life and work.
KR : I was labeled bipolar after my manic episode after being diagnosed with cancer. I had no filter. I'd say and act out what I was thinking - no rational thought process. This become more noticeable after the lack of sleep, in fact - literally no sleep for over two weeks. But I can understand that maybe I was bipolar the more I realize that I've always been very hyper. I have always managed my bipolar by being focused on work and the gym which helped me manage my moods.
FS : You didn't stop drawing to the drawer. You've gone further with the Kirkcatures brand. What was the concept behind this project?
KR : Concept of Kirkcatures? Well, Kirkcatures started when I was in recovery. I opened a facebook account called Kirkcatures. At that present time there wasn't any real plans on where Kirkcatures was going. It was just a platform at first to display my art, and it helped me significantly creating portraits. It was me. Me in my own space. A little like mindfulness.
But then I began thinking about possibly raising money for mental health. And that was a bigger plan.
FS : By following your social account, you can see how much you have come as a cartoonist, how your workshop has improved and the line has become recognizable. Patience and persistence have resulted in tangible results. "Let art get you through the dark" - you write on one of your social media accounts. It seems that art is a way, a medicine and a therapy for you. Was it the hard times that created the artist you are today?
KR : I definitely found a love for art from a dark place. It seemed to stop time when I was drawing. Then i could analyse, be objective with my thoughts, then making more positive affirmations inside my head whilst being creative, this really helped my mental health. I also listened to whole range of music This also is a major part of my recovery. I couldn't live with out music especially when I draw.
FS : You specialize in ink and pencil. Your favorite subject is human faces. Is it a natural, intuitive choice, or is it inspired by a specific trend, event or person?
KR : I've just fallen in love in fine line ink. It's so versatile. Given me lots of choices wether it's faces or animals. But I will say I love drawing eyes, the windows to the soul. I am inspired by musicians, and I love black and white.
I do want to try other mediums but for now am sticking with fine line pen.
I just love the process of cross hatching,
FS : You are a huge supporter of happenings and charity auctions for mental health. You combine your personal experiences with the willingness to provide support and help to people who follow a similar path. You are about to start an auction to raise money for a good cause. Tell us more about this project.
KR : My whole intention with Kirkcatures is to sell art and raising money for mental health awareness. That is my intention.
I've just ordered the Tom Jones image on aluminum.
Looking to see if I can auction that piece!
FS : How do you imagine the further path of the Kirkcatures brand? What are the plans for the future?
KR : I am really enjoying my time drawing. At the moment it is therapy time.
As where do I think Kirkcatures is heading? I am not sure ...
All I can say is that am passionate about making sure I put one hundret percent into my work
FS : You have learned how to find yourself in a disease, how to tame it, how to enjoy every day and enjoy creating. There are tons of people who cannot find themselves living through a story similar to yours. In retrospect and experience, what advice and guidance could you give them?
KR : Love yourself! Be creative. Eat healthy. Exercise. Be kind to yourself and others. Follow your heart and find time being a grateful for what you have. Except that it's not always going to be easy but keep going regardless!
"Absolutely beautiful drawing, you are absolutely talented!"
"I love the content you convey, it has so much power. You are a very brave, talented person."
"I love your style and the attention you pay to details."
"It was amazing to watch your journey. You really inspire. I love seeing your work, mate! It's bloody brilliant!"
Source: comments on social networks about the Kirkcatures brand.
"I am a spiritual billionaire. Without materialism, I am driven by love for myself and others. And by good food, I love good food."
I'm an artist. This means that I live in a fantasy world with unrealistic expectations. Thank you for your understanding :)"
-Kirk Rutter. CEO of Kirkcatures