Simms: Tell us a little bit about your artistic background?
Keeler: Sure. I have what I’d consider to be a strong formal arts background. I’ve got a bachelors in studio arts and a masters in fine arts in painting and drawing.
Simms: So I think it’s safe to say, your subject matter is pretty – distinctive? Can you talk a little bit about how that developed?
Keeler: Absolutely. I grew up listening to, and still love heavy metal. I was also obsessed with fantasy art and books like Dungeons & Dragons and thinks like that. And like fantasy junkie, metalhead kids, I was also drawn to graffiti, skateboard graphics and album artwork. Take all of those interests and my upbringing, blend that with my formal training and it kind of spits out my style.
Simms How about in terms of the subject matter? Fly Fishing and fantasy isn’t exactly a logical combination.
Keeler: Again, because I was so obsessed with metal and things of that nature, skulls and skeletons just kind of naturally ended up appearing in pretty much all my artwork.
Simms: So when did these skulls and skeletons find their way into your fishing inspired works?
Keeler: Haha. It was kinda weird actually. A friend of mine asked me to do a drawing of a fish. At the time, I don’t think I had ever even drawn a fish which is kinda funny because I grew up fishing. He wanted a rainbow trout so that’s what I did. When I was done, I don’t know, it was kinda that light bulb moment I guess. I was like, ‘damn, I should have been drawing fish all along’. Of course, I still loved skulls and skeletons and all that crazy stuff but I found myself drawing more and more fish pieces. There for a while it was like I had two bodies of work, my fish stuff and my fantasy stuff. Eventually, I realized I really wanted one body of work so I began to think how I could merge the two. I had been seeing lots of commissioned artwork out there of people holding fish and I was like, man I’d love to do that but you know what, I’m gonna make the people into demons and necromancers. Haha. When I sat down and actually did it, it was like ‘yeah, this is exactly what I want to see’ and I’ve been at it ever since.