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Mel Kadel CCS

CCS is thrilled to announce that our Customs X First Thursdays artist for January 2022 is none other than Mel Kadel.

From tiny intricate fine-line work on paper to larger than life murals, Mel Kadel's artistic images consistently illustrate struggling yet transcendent human figures interacting with colorful patterns, infinite floral motifs, and literal coffee stains.
For her Customs X collaboration, she wanted to give the everyone the chance to add their personal color palette to a wild, energetic sampling of her decorative motifs.
Mel was kind enough to break away from her pens and paint brushes for a few minutes to talk with Russ Pope about pets, food, tunes, and using coffee as an art supply.

CCS: Do you have a favorite geographic location out of all the spots that you’ve called home?

Mel: It feels like we live so many different lives, inside our one life.
I was in Los Angeles for 22 years, and that’s where everything began to take to shape for me.  A combination of where that city was at the time, and where I was at the time.  It was the most significant chapter for me.  I have a deep affinity for LA on so many levels.  But I grew up on the east cost (living in Philly & NYC for awhile) which felt more natural.  Unlike LA, the east coast never felt like an adjustment, it was just home.  Now I’m trying a new chapter in a small beach town in FL, on the Gulf Coast.  It’s hard to pinpoint what geographic location is my favorite.  You can lose so many great things when you move locations, but also gain things you never knew you wanted.  I think my heart lives in several places at the moment.

How about pets, have any?

I have a dog named Rodney (aka Hot Rod).  We found him on the streets in LA when he was about 8 months old.  Now, 9 years later, he remains one the most important and weirdest things in my life.

Mel Kadel and Hot Rod

When did you start making art?

I was about 15 or 16 when I realized that art was becoming my focus.  I think at that age, kids start growing out of it, unless they have a strange obsession to keep doing it.  My art class in high school became a haven.  I just wanted to keep doing it, that was the simple direction my focus was taking me.  I loved it, and felt comfortable on that path, even though I was an unconfident and confused teenager.    

Have any artists that you think we should know about / keep an eye on?

Not copping out.  I’m just in awe of too many people to name.
From my dad’s doodles when he’s talking on the phone, to well-known big time artists.
It’s all worth keeping an eye out for.

Mel Kadel for CCS

If you were going to book a trip tomorrow and could go anywhere, where would it be and why?

I miss winter, so somewhere/anywhere with a little snow. 

Favorite food?

Canned salmon and avocado (or pizza) will work.


Mel Kadel skateboard

Can you talk about anything you're currently working on?

Other than this really cool collaboration with CCS, I’m focusing on personal work right now.  The pandemic put such a halt on exhibitions, which was where I put most of my energy for so many years.  So, to adjust to that (on top of moving), I have hit a rhythm of continually making new work and releasing things at a pace that makes sense for the moment. 

What kinds of pens and inks are your favorites?

I use Micron pens and FW liquid acrylic inks.  For the most part, those have been my go-to materials.  You start to have such a relationship with your tools & materials, and it becomes such an understanding of how to get to that feeling you have in your mind.  I branch out here and there, but I’m really dedicated to those two brands and how they work for me.

Are you a music person? Who are you listening to right now if so?

Possibly in a search of those different lives we live, that I talked about at the start, I’ve been in a really weird mood lately and almost only listening to things I loved when I was like 18-25 years old.  This won’t last long because it’s so heavy, the way music takes you back.  Stuff like Jane’s Addiction, White Stripes, R.E.M., The Fugees, and on and on.

Mel Kadel mural

Book club recommendation?

What I’m reading right now:  The Body Keeps The Score, by Kolk.

Coffee or tea?


Speaking of coffee, you’ve used it as a medium before I think, can you tell us about that?

Early on, I would find old book paper to work on.  I’d get stacks of used books and find the aged blank sheets to tear out.  After awhile, I felt limited by the paper because it was so fragile due to age.  As a way of mimicking that warm yellowish tone, and to still have those pleasing irregularities, I started experimenting with coffee on really thick watercolor paper.  So I still get that base tone I always loved, but am free to add paint and water and not be limited by the materials.

Have you used other beverages as mediums?

Red wine, pomegranate juice, beet juice, and Guinness.  They have all worked for little splashes, but not for the full paper soak.  But now you have me wanting to try again, especially with beet juice.

Artist Mel Kadel

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and for being part of the Customs X First Thursdays project. Have any parting comments, thoughts, upcoming projects to keep a lookout for, requests?

Thank you so much.  I’m really excited about this Customs X project.  It’s so cool to have designed something that someone else can make into their own.  I can’t wait to see what people do with the color, or how they use the design.  Show me shots from the wild please!  

You heard her; Go explore the Customs X Mel Kadel options right now and get your own personalized shirts, skate decks, griptape, and hoodies. Make sure to tag Mel on Instagram (@melkadel) so see can see what you created.
Tag us (@ccs) and #ccscustoms as well so we can give you a repost!

Customs X Mel Kadel

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