By Sophia Whittemore
And… cute bears?
This is pop surrealist Luke Chueh’s work. It’s the Alice-in-Wonderland intersection where childhood imaginings face off against brutal nightmares. Born in Philadelphia, then raised in Fresno, Chueh has proven himself to be a creator to watch with his unique style of “tragic cute”. He’s spent over a decade on the frontier of the ever-changing art scene, and his work is going to be honored by the Munky King team (consisting of creatives Luke Chueh, Patrick Lam, and Stu Gamble) in a new, animated shorts series called Grief Encounters.
The Munky King Team’s own words from their Kickstarter page describes Grief Encounters “as a series of animated shorts that brings to life the art of renowned pop-surrealist, Luke Chueh.”
Luke describes his own subject matter as “a bit off brand for traditional studios and their corporate cash.” As the Munky King’s put it, they “aim to stay as true to his (Luke’s) art with animation as we do with our toys.”
Just to show you what I mean by “tragic cute” and a “nightmarish Alice-in-Wonderland”, here are some tweets from Luke Chueh’s Twitter displaying more of his work:
— Luke Chueh (@lukechueh) August 3, 2017
— Luke Chueh (@lukechueh) February 25, 2017
— Luke Chueh (@lukechueh) February 24, 2017
FROM THE MIND OF LUKE CHUEH, THE INTERVIEW
How do you identify? How does family/culture/community/artistic expression/personal growth factor into that?
I identity as Asian American or Chinese American. My experience as an Asian American definitely come into the narratives I explore in my work. I grew up in the predominantly Caucasian city of 1970’s and 80’s Clovis/Fresno California. This was before “political correctness” was a thing, and I definitely had a hard time of it. That experience of isolation and self-loathing.
What does your work/creative expression mean to you? Your work is obviously unique and outside-the-box in every way possible, which is what makes it so amazing. Is it an outlet, a way to cope, an expression of fun, or is it something deeper?
I wish I can say I created art with such romantic ideals. It’s definitely not a coping mechanism, cause whenever I feel like sh*t, I honestly can’t do anything (other than wallow in my sh*tiness). I guess it’s an outlet. The truth is Ideas just come to me, and I save them for specific shows.
Any words of advice for other potential creators out there who need motivation to keep on keeping on? (Shout-out to all the fans!)
Here’s the truth I realized is, you need three things to make it in the art world. You need talent, you need discipline, and you need luck. But you’ll never know how lucky you are unless you put yourself out there. I credit the internet for giving me my career, but before that I started by showing at underground art shows. If you can find a venue that is interested in showing your work, go for it.
What do you see as your crowning moment?
One of my crowning moments was the release of my first toy, Possessed. The response was almost overwhelming. We had a line wrapped around the block the atmosphere was electric. A lot of my solo shows around the world have felt like crowning achievements too.
If people only take one thing away from everything you’ve created, what would it be?
Life is tough, you might feel like you’re alone with your issues, but you’re not.
SEE MORE OF LUKE CHUEH AND THE MUNKY KING TEAM HERE:
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