River Kero is a queer Canadian artist born and currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. His practice consists mostly of graphic novel work, writing, and illustration.
As an artist who grew up in rural British Columbia (in a First Nations town called Bella Bella) for the majority of his childhood, River had early exposure to issues such as oppression, culture, and identity. He knew that he wanted to make comics as a career since he started drawing them in middle school, and his desire to tell stories and use art to do it became only stronger. In April 2020, he graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. In 2021, he published his first graphic novel, The Curse of Clan Blackwood. In the spring of 2022, he fulfilled a lifelong dream of backpacking in Europe.
Currently, River is attending the journalism certificate program at Langara College. He plans to combine journalism work with his art practice.
As a queer artist based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, much of my practice is based on my own lived experience. I see my artmaking practise as a process of communication through storytelling. I am compelled by themes revolving around family, lived LGBTQ+ experiences, travel and adventures, relationships, mental health, and the philosophies around art. These themes all play an enormous part in my own life which is why they continually emerge in my own work, either through characters I can relate to or in autobiographical content.
My primary medium is graphic novels. For the types of stories that I want to tell, they work best for what I am trying to achieve. The relationship between text and image, what I want the viewers to see, and the subtleties the medium can convey are all aspects that draw me towards comics. I built my practice in traditional pen and ink, but these days I work with my iPad or tablet for most of my projects. I reach for whatever tool will work best for the story I want to tell or the art I want to make. For other projects, I also work in prose, scriptwriting, and audio recording.
I see my process as a method of discovery. Whenever I choose an idea, I feel more like the hands that render it than the mind that creates it. I spend a great deal of time in the brainstorming/writing phase before I execute a comic idea (I describe it as an excavation, digging for more information). In my mind, my art practice is intensely personal, it’s my way of seeing the world.
My relationship with my art is exploratory, as well as using it as a method of communication and a way to connect with those around me.