Number 98: Chuck U
Years spent living in MN: All of them
Like many talented artists, Chuck U's work is in a world of its own--literally. His paintings are often filled with dapper animals sporting monocles, bowler hats, and handle-bar mustaches. His settings range from whimsical (a possum nurtures baby birds in a sea of goldfish), humorous (a shaggy dog/octopus takes over a town, Godzilla-style), and detailed (take a closer look at any of this pieces and you will find something your eye failed to catch the first time).
As a child, the Minneapolis-based artists aspired to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book artist. And while that youthful dream has yet to come true, most would say that he has transcended that goal. Over the years, the artist has worked on over 200 art design projects, and has participated in a variety of art shows. His work can currently be seen at the "Funcapolyse" exhibit at Tarnish & Gold.
[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:
Ninja turtle graffiti
What was your last big project?
Big as in size? A giant 5 foot by 7 foot painting (People Sitting, see below). It took about a month. My last big paying gig was re-designing the Chesterfield cigarette pack for some ad firm in Spain. I don't think my design got used though.
What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
"Funpocalypse," a show of a bunch of art and prints by me and my friend Zamon from San Fran, is hanging until October 30 at Tarnish & Gold ( Creative/career high point (so far)?:
Getting published in Juxtapoz was pretty badass. But the highlight was probably the "Funpocalypse" opening at T&G the other week. It's the first show I've done where I feel like people didn't show up by accident.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist (this can be logistical, financial, creative, etc.)?
Writing artist statements. I fucking hate writing artist statements. You can't seriously write about your own art without sounding like a pretentious douche. But on the flip side, you can't make it too un-serious without sounding like an ass, an ass who doesn't respect the people who bothered to show up to your show and read your crappy artist statement in the first place. So yeah, it's a fine line. I prefer to avoid artist statements at all costs. Besides, why do I have to write words about my art? Just look at it and decide for yourself if it sucks or not.
How has the local scene changed since you began your career?
I don't believe there are any such things as "scenes." It's just an illusion. Anyone who talks about the "scene" is usually complaining about how it sucks in order to give the impression that they are above those types (or possibly they are bitter because they feel excluded). If they're not complaining, they are explaining how great the scene is, giving the impression that they are in the know and thus cool. The scene only exists because we talk about it. If no one talked about it we'd just be a bunch of people who make art or music or go to shows or whatever. No one goes to a Vikings game and talks about the scene. How come people do at indie rock shows? Fuck a scene, no such thing. Can you tell I just watched Fight Club? Fuck me.
A shaggy dog/octopus taking over a city, monkeys with monocles, old-fashioned cities in space: Where do you get your crazy ideas?
I wish I had an awesome answer for this--"I do drugs!" or deprivation tanks or something. But really, I just draw things I think look cool. Like, I'll see a dog that looks cool, so I draw it. Then I decide it would be cooler with a monocle, then should be half octopus, and so on.
For reasons unknown, you are forced to live inside the world of one of your creations. Which one do you choose?
Oh easy. People Sitting for sure [view below]. Who wouldn't want to live in a fancy house with sophisticated dog people and a hot girl?
Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments. See more of Chuck U's work at his official website.
Past creatives, so far: