Kevin Harrison calls himself an inverse paranoid. Rather than worrying that everyone’s out to get him, he thinks that the universe is conspiring to do him well.
“I’m a firm believer that there’s power in putting intentions out into the universe,” he says. “If you go through life expecting the good in people and great possibility, there’s a great chance of that happening.”
Judging from a series of fortuitous life events, his theory seems well-founded. There was the time he hosted a fake riot at the opening of a downtown gallery show featuring his paintings. That led to a job with a big marketing firm in Chicago to promote Axe body spray and more high-profile marketing gigs, then a full-time position as creative director with PDA, a local production company that provides custom lighting, staging, and videography.
More recently, he was working on editing the behind-the-scenes footage for a thriller called Motel starring Robert DeNiro and John Cusack. In the process of doing that, the movie’s producer Warren Ostergard, who owns a house in the Lowcountry as well as a few of Harrison’s paintings, asked him to do a painting of Motel.
“I said, why don’t I do you one better? Why don’t I design it to look like a movie poster? Everyone kept saying ‘film noir,’ and film noir to me means 1950s, 1960s, and a lot of those film posters were hand-painted. He loved the idea so I mocked one up. He liked it, showed it to the director, he liked it, and ordered six paintings of what I had done.”
Seventeen versions later, the first movie poster was approved, and Harrison is currently finishing up the full set in time for the movie’s projected winter 2013 release. The posters will be used to promote the movie worldwide and for the DVD cover.
“They liked it so much, the hope is that I’ll be doing all their movie posters and editing trailers and more features,” Harrison says. While he’s done plenty of documentaries, he hasn’t edited a feature yet, and he really wants to move into that realm. “The nice thing about these film projects is it’s pure art. It’s not a marketing project. It’s a movie, which is exciting to me.”
In the meantime, Harrison is still painting and finding inspiration in new landscapes. He recently returned from Barcelona, where he lived with his family for the last year. He hosted a gallery opening there, “full of the usual hipsters,” he says. “Everybody looked like they were from the Strokes. It was definitely a bit of a dream come true, something I can check off of my bucket list.”
He’s since been living on the Isle of Palms and is planning a couple of local art shows for the fall — one at Michael Mitchell in September, and one at the 827 in November. But don’t get too used to Harrison being back in town. His family’s next adventure is taking them to Dublin, Ireland, for a few years before they return to Charleston. “When we came back [from Spain], we were a little depressed at first, but now we’ve come full circle, and we realize more than ever that Charleston is our home. We fully intend to come back [from Ireland], probably in two years,” he says. “I want the kids to know that there’s something outside of the small world they’re living in.”
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