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Keith Klein


I’m a native Chicagoan who, like most boys my age, dreamt of becoming a space pirate, like Han Solo, or a race car driver, like Speed Racer, when I grew up. Scribbling spaceships, robots and race cars in the margins of my homework and pouring my imagination into sketchbooks on cold, rainy Saturday’s, long before the advent of cable television.

Those endless hours of scribbling lead to a 30 year career as an illustrator and designer, beginning professionally when I was still in high school. At 19, while all my friends were away at college, I was already working in an advertising agency and creating special events posters for Walter Payton's (of the Chicago Bears) nightclubs on the side.

Commercial art has been exciting and rewarding, but painting is my real passion.

I'm a photorealist painter, me against the source image. Paying attention to and capturing the tiniest detail, so that when I'm done, you can’t tell whether you are looking at a photograph or a painting, unless you get up close.

Beautiful women and movie stars are my main subjects of choice. The models in most of my paintings I know, personally, and I am always on the lookout for new people to paint.

I work in acrylics on large scale canvases. My work is designed to fill a large wall and the images I choose to paint are meant to create a striking impact. I couldn’t even tell you what it is about a particular image over another that makes me want to spend [sometimes] hundreds of hours capturing it on canvas in such high detail. Inspiration is... primal. Instinctual. When an image grabs me, I want to freeze that feeling it gives me in place forever and share it with the world.

Over the years I’ve done a number of shows, beginning in 2000. Showing multiple times in the gallery of the famous Chicago nightclub, “The Mission”, run by legendary club promoter, Dave Medusa.

In 2002, I did a show alongside Olivia DeBerardinis at Echo Gallery, Chicago. I was supposed to have just one piece in the show and when the gallery owners saw my paintings in person, they set up an entire room at the show for my work.

In 2010, I was asked by Gallery Provocateur, Chicago (which was voted the best gallery in Chicago three years in a row by Chicago Magazine) to be one of their resident artists.

I’ve since moved to Los Angeles… Hollywood, specifically… to sell an animated television series of my own creation called, “Surfur Gurl”.

I do not make prints of my work. There is only one of each piece and once it sells, there will never be another. I also welcome commission work and am happy to try and answer any questions a customer may have about me or my work. But, ultimately, everything there is to know about an artist is revealed in their work, if you look hard enough.

-Keith Klein

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