Work / Illustration

Kyle Bean’s tactile simulacrums are brought to life with wit and precision

Illustrator and designer Kyle Bean constructs playful scenes and miniature simulacrums that draw out metaphors from the subject material, representing them through thoughtful and humorous handcrafted 3D illustration, in order to concisely communicate the services and attributes of a product or narrative.

Crisp, simple and boldly coloured, his pieces work well as striking editorials informing a larger story, or simply as thoughtful advertising statements. Recent work for business and technology magazine Fast Company, has seen Kyle design and construct a physical representation of a theoretical gene editing tool as a pair of scissors: the blades of which form a linked double helix design.

Commissioned by Wieden+Kennedy for their ongoing Verizion campaign, Kyle provided a series of quirky scenes to communicate the services provided by the US telecommunications company: telephone pylons with muscular arms interlocked in a chain humorously anthropomorphise telecommunications to convey a sense of reliability and heft in the Verizon brand. Similarly, a smartphone is deconstructed to plainly and playfully express the range of services made possible by the brand.

Each illustration is typically assembled from a combination of paper cuts, appropriated household objects and fimo clay. Shot against simple, single colour backgrounds which subtly capture soft shadows cast by the models, the end result is often so minimalist in tone and texture in fact that they initially appear computer generated, speaking to the precision involved in executing the ideas.

These meticulous handcrafted simulacrums, owed to “a childhood hobby that never went away,” are primarily primary or pastels in colour, and are shot collaboratively with a selection of photographers in a precisely lit studio setting. Light is used as media in its own right, crafting shadows to effectively flesh out the three dimensions of the models, and their concept.

For RSA Listening Device Kyle reappropriated stationery items reconstructing them as a conceptual listening contraption. A strong visual in its own right, it works to concisely summarise and provide a contextual backdrop to the RSA Journal’s article about the importance of properly listening and communicating with their students in schools.

Lately his work has started to be brought even more wholly to life, with Kyle moving to incorporate animation into his work. While his latest response to the Wieden+Kennedy brief for Verizon saw paper crafted models of desk on a rotating, modelled topographic disk out of “mix of granulated rock and modelling materials like you would use for train set landscapes for the paper-craft desk to sit within”, imagining the scenarios in which the services can be used: at home, in the city, at once with nature or on holiday at the beach.


Kyle Bean with Carl Kleiner: Verizon brief


Kyle Bean with Carl Kleiner: Verizon brief


Kyle Bean with Aaron Tilley: Kinfolk Magazine


Kyle Bean with Aaron Tilley: Kinfolk Magazine