Posts tagged illustration
VANS Custom Culture Competition - Last days!!

You've had a while now to make a run at the VANS Custom Culture Competition, and we've seen a lot of you getting busy since our last post announcement. Shout out to all of the local artists who've submitted designs so far - it's been super impressive to see!



If you're yet to submit your sweet VANS Slip On design for the Custom Culture Comp, you'd better get a wriggle on because there's only 4 DAYS remaining to have the chance to be full foot FAMOUS.

Don't know how to enter? You can suss our last blog post with step-by-step instructions, here.

We’re seeing some super fun stuff shine through from Straya, but one artist in particular that we’re really vibing is MUCHOS, from Adelaide. We caught up for a little chat with this optimistic aerosol artist while he was in Brisbane to see how his shoe steeze is stacking up.

Tell us, who is MUCHOS?
Your friendly neighbourhood painter!

How would you define your style in a few words?
Fun, bold and happy. It's always about being happy.

What makes you want to create?
It's just something I've always done. I guess it's kind of like a necessity.

You've been in our neck of the woods, hanging out in Brisbane lately. What have you been up to?
I've been floating around Brissy working on a bunch of little projects for The Culprit Club and Ironlak for the last few weeks. It's been a lot of fun! Lots of painting and good times with good people.

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Why did you submit to the comp?
I heard about it at the last minute and being a big fan of Vans I thought it was worth a shot. And plus, a free trip to Asia definitely wouldn't be bad!

Tell us about your custom culture slip on design:
It's pretty much a continuation of the work I've been doing lately. I have a bunch of reoccurring objects that I stack into situations together. Then I just jumble them all around until I like the look of it!

How would you feel if people around the world were walking a mile in your shoes?
As a long time fan of Vans, it would be really cool to work with them and have my own shoe! Doesn't get much cooler than that.

Enter Vans comp here.

See the full Muchos shoe design here.


Joker and the Thief is set to release THEIR new collection of playing cards – Maidens. We give you a sneaky look at the artwork by Kentaro Yoshida.

Designed over a period of 10 months by popular Sydney-based artist Kentaro Yoshida, the collaboration couldn’t be any more perfect. Known for his organic, bold style, Kentaro was inspired by Dia de los Muertos – central to Maidens’ theme of powerful and mystical feminine energy. 

Maidens truly is going to be a special deck of playing cards. Packaged in a gorgeous letter-pressed tuck box produced in San Diego, California – utilising premium imported papers, with interior and exterior hot stamped foil and embossing. All of this is capped by a vivid, custom shaped seal. 

To get your hands on this limited edition deck of cards, you can pre-order through Joker and the Thief's Kickstarter campaign launching on Friday, September 1st, 6PM PDT (West Coast, USA).

Rik Lee - Iconic

Known for his hand-drawn illustrations of diverse babes covered in tattoos, Australian artist Rik Lee has accrued a massive following over the years. In honour of our latest N/C issue Almost Famous, we spoke to Rik to find out more about the ‘iconic’ project he’s currently working on.


There’s been little details to the quiet hype around the celeb portraits of Beyoncé, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain – to name only very few – that Rik has been churning out over the past few weeks. The project, commissioned by UK publishing house Laurence King, is a deck of 54 playing cards featuring some of the most iconic music artists and performers.

“Before seeing who made the cut, I gave some thought into who I’d include and man, that in itself is a really tough job!” Rik says. “I was choosing artists based on personal musical taste as well as people who I thought would be great illustrative subjects.

“I’m bummed these artists were not included: Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Joey Ramone, Morrissey, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, MF DOOM, Missy Elliot, RZA, Lou Reed, Ian Curtis, Robert Smith, any of The Ronettes… I could go on. Fortunately, Laurence King built a non-bias, excellent list, representing a broad range of genres both past and present and saved me days of headaches in the process.”

“When I started, each portrait was taking me three to four full working days to complete. To meet my deadline, I’ve had to complete one portrait every two days which included working weekends, Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

-Rik Lee


For each portrait, Rik researches reference material and photos of each artist, looking at facial expressions, hairstyles and outfits before sketching a single image inspired by these. “Some artists, David Bowie for example, have careers that span many eras, each with their own iconic looks.” Rik explains, “For these artists, I’d choose a favourite era and roll with that. So I drew Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Michael Jackson in his Thriller era and so on.”

Despite the stage of famous names begging to come to life on paper, Rik took a levelled approach. “There were artists I was more excited to illustrate than others and those who I felt more confident drawing. Then of course, there are artists who I thought would be a real challenge. I tried to spread out the workload and mix it up, so I didn’t just focus on illustrating all the easy ones first, leaving myself with weeks of difficult portraits.”

The most challenging aspect of the project has been the time Rik has had to cram to complete the 54 A4-sized portraits to a deadline. “When I started, each portrait was taking me three to four full working days to complete. To meet my deadline, I’ve had to complete one portrait every two days which included working weekends, Christmas, New Year’s Day etc.,” Rik explains. “Not to mention I still have my other work going on, a life to lead and sleep to get. The biggest challenge has been time and trying to complete a portrait every couple of days, while doing each subject justice and creating a piece I’m proud of.”

“...can you imagine a world where David Bowie never existed? Fuck that. Legends like Bowie and his creativity have made this world a better place.” 

-Rik Lee

It’s rare to see a guy among the bold-coloured illustrations in Rik’s portfolio, with women and fierce animals often paired and dominating the spotlight. It's funny, if you think of art over time, the majority of artists whether male or female have focused on women and the female form over men, Rik ponders. “Women are more interesting to me than men; maybe being a guy, it's the alluring, mystery thing. I [also] find women easier to draw.

“I’m actually happy with a lot of the male portraits: Michael Jackson, Kanye, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, because I so rarely illustrate men; this has been yet another big challenge for me. Stepping outside my comfort zone and succeeding in making a piece I’m happy with – I’m quite pleased about that.”

With a massive 900k+ Facebook following and a successful repertoire to make a living drawing what he loves, Rik’s had his fair share of 15 seconds of fame. When asked what fame means to Rik as an artist, he maintains a modest profile, “I wouldn’t know!” He laughs. “Fame comes in a range of forms, many of which, personally, I’m not interested in, but I do think it’s great when good work is acknowledged.

“I think we put too much weight on the idea of fame and celebrity. However, I do like popular culture in general, and many of these icons have made wonderful art. I mean, can you imagine a world where David Bowie never existed? Fuck that. Legends like Bowie and his creativity have made this world a better place.”

Image: Todd Bates Creative / Interview: Sarah Hazlehurst   

Image: Todd Bates Creative / Interview: Sarah Hazlehurst



What was the first album you purchased? Can you tell us the story behind it?
Oh, you’re really going to embarrass me with this one! I grew up in a religious household where I was obligated to attend church at least twice a week and slog through private Christian school up until 9th grade, where I was pumped full of weird ideas about how all popular music was Satanic and would send me down a path of eternal hellfire. I remember that I used to buy terrible Christian rap tapes in middle school that just ripped off other groups and added their corny, religious messages and twisted takes on reality. I think the first tape that I bought in the 90’s was unfortunately by a group of weirdo’s called DC Talk.

What’s your favourite album of all time and why?
I’m not a person who likes to pick favorites, as I am constantly moving through genres based on moods and instinct, but I’ll go with Faith No More, King for a Day, Fool For a Lifetime. I remember blasting that album in high school while driving around with friends, signing at the top of our lungs and when I listen to it now it still stands the test of time.

 Can you describe how your designs connect with people?
My work often finds it’s roots in world culture, mythology and inner worlds that may be familiar to people. I use illustration as a way to visually work out concepts and ideas that I can’t fully grasp or communicate with words and I think the wiliness to go where the idea takes me resonates with people who are also on a path of seeking and finding for personal meaning in the images and world around them.

 If you could be reborn into any time/place/realm, where would it be and why?
I really can’t think of a more strange, thrilling, psychologically terrifying and interesting time in human history than right now. I think that this point in time (as unsettling as it is) is also incredibly fascinating and alive with possibilities. Being a digital artist, I am completely in awe of all of the infinite ways in which I can bring my ideas to life and share them with larger audiences than ever before. As physical reality becomes more and more distorted, digital concepts like virtual reality, 3D printing of products and the integration of A.I. into everything imaginable are becoming more and more prevalent. But at the same time, we are seeing a resurgence of ancient spiritual practices, meditation and shamanic influences across the globe that offer hope in the midst of the chaos. I constantly feel like I’m living inside of a super complex sci-fi novel, full of masterminds, heroes, villains, cyborgs and sorcerers.


Can you describe what it’s like designing for music? Tell us about your process.
I love the level of creative freedom that comes with creating artwork for gig posters. It’s the perfect balance for the way that I like to work. I’ve done some album artwork pieces, but for me the gig poster is ideal. My process is similar to the way that I create personal work for galleries, but with the added benefit of having a soundscape in mind to get my imagination going. I always start my process with a series of visualisation and meditation techniques. I pretend that I am a television receiver and I explore the visions and ideas that start to appear and I imagine how I will draw them. I like to give the ideas time to marinate and develop naturally. After the time is up, I head to my desk, open up Photoshop and quickly start piecing together reference images and sketches on my Wacom Cintiq that resemble what I was exploring in my imagination.

How long have you been screen-printing and why is that your chosen print method for posters?
There’s just something beautiful about the tactile feel of a screen print that resonates with designers and collectors. I got my professional illustration start by creating screen-printed T-shirt artwork for my good friend’s, Surf and Skate Shop back in 2004. The surf/skate shop work led to creating t-shirt designs for a range of counter culture and action sports brands. I’ve always been drawn to the bold, graphic style of screen-printed skateboard decks and gig posters. That was what got me into wanting to make art in the first place and that style just feels most fitting for my personality.

 Who are your biggest influences in digital and fine art?
I often get my influence from the infinite combinations of unrelated artwork that I’m always filling my brain with. My studio space is filled with prints, masks, toys art books and I love traveling to see various art shows, religious relics, street cultures, tattoo shops, museum exhibits, ancient temples, antique shops, and live performances. All of this, combined with technology, audio books, podcasts, meditation, cannabis and psychedelics is what influences my work. I allow any and all elements, light and dark, old and new to merge with my personal preferences and experiences to shape my aesthetic and visual message that is always in flux.

 Who are some of the most memorable musicians you’ve worked with, and why?
Jacob Bannon of Converge was the most thrilling for me. I got to create a poster and t-shirt illustration for their recent tour with At The Gates. I grew up listening to Converge heavily, going to their shows and collecting their merch’. It is a huge honor to be among the incredible lineup of artists who have created work for them over the years and I’m not gonna’ lie, I was definitely a bit nervous talking to Jacob about my concepts for the project.

Do the musicians usually have an idea what they want, or do they give you free reign in coming up with an idea/concept?
The great thing about creating gig posters is that I generally just get a list of elements that the band doesn’t want to see and the rest is up to me to create something that I think they will dig. I work best when I’m free to explore my imagination and having the built-in collector fan base of the band, combined with my audience actually allows me to experiment and try wilder concepts that I might not have attempted otherwise.

Do you believe cover art is imperative to the success of an album and poster art to the success of an event/ tour?
No matter what you are selling, the artwork and the way something it is marketed is always important. Just speaking for myself, the album cover visuals always affects my perception of the band. The artwork is usually what is experienced first before I hear the band or go to the show and whether I want it to or not, it makes me cast a quick judgement or feel one way or another. When the album art is good, I want to like the band, so I tend to give it more of a chance. If I don’t like the artwork, I’m quicker to write it off. 

Has any one particular album, song or artist inspired your creative life path or helped to shape you into the person you are today?
I have never felt driven by any one band, artist, style or point of view. I think the thing that has most shaped my personality is my innate hunger for varied perspectives and novelty.