Posts tagged tattoo
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.”

Deb Calendar Release and Exhibition Tonight!

After a tour spanning six times between the United States and Australia, we welcome back Melbourne-born artist Deb to her hometown Melbourne for the launch event of her new 2016 Calendar, which we have to say is pretty damn hot! 

Showcasing 12 original works created exclusively for the calendar, as well as a number of original sketches and studies for the project, don’t miss your chance to pick up a limited edition Deb calendar just in time for Christmas (and even get it signed)!

Come along on tonight and party with Deb & the Work-Shop Melbourne Crew for their final show for the year. This is one event you don’t want to miss!

Enjoy some of the pics from the 2016 calendar below. Visit the Workshop link underneath to see full details of the show. See you there!

Workshop Melbourne

195 Argyle Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065


Merchandise is a critical branding tool for bands but it is equally symbolic of community to fans – a wearable statement of belonging. Whether purchased with planned intent or in the spur of the moment, people embed memories of “that” show and “those” people into the fabric of those t-shirts. That is a really powerful thing, and Milan Chagoury has been helping bands channel that for years now.


It all began when Milan fell in love with hardcore music in his late teens, a time when the scene started to gain some real traction in Australia, particularly along the east coast. There was something about the youth culture it bred that nurtured military-like comradery among those who associated with it. Bands like Carpathian, Parkway Drive, 50 Lions and Miles Away became royalty. A Sunshine Coast resident, Milan’s commitment saw him make frequent road trips to Byron Bay. His motivation was simple; the people and the memories they created together.

“I just loved the energy involved in the music. The album covers and merch were always very loud and appealing to me. It’s what got me into design in the first place,” Milan says, recalling how he dropped his journalism major in favour of graphic design. 

“I guess hardcore saved my life.”

Closer to the end of his degree, the designs he was producing for a small bodyboard brand caught the eye of Joel Birch, frontman of rising stars The Amity Affliction, who approached Milan to collaborate with the band. The resulting design proved popular among fans and led to the band’s management company, UNFD, asking him to service its entire roster. 

For perspective, this put a freshly graduated Milan in a position where he would be designing for one of Australia’s largest independent music agencies. While the learning curve was steep, it was a sink-or-swim environment he thrived in. Things snowballed. Under his alias, Stay Bold, Milan now counts prestige bands such as Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Deez Nuts and While She Sleeps as clients.

Having a vested interest in the music itself obviously helps give the designs enhanced character and relevance, however, it’s Milan’s tendency to put a dark spin on things that made him a natural fit for these clients. Much of the ideation is left entirely on his shoulders as formal briefs are few and far between. 

"It’s like firing an arrow into the dark and trying to hit a target,” Milan says, although it's obvious he hits the mark more often than not.

After the initial sketches are given the green light by the band, Milan develops them in Photoshop on his Wacom Cintiq graphic tablet. Once satisfied the foundations are solid, he jumps into Illustrator to really flesh out the design. Despite this somewhat niche client base, Milan’s fear of churning out stale work has seen him fall into a cycle of ongoing experimentation to avoid being pigeonholed stylistically. 

It’s hardly surprising his portfolio has aesthetic vibes ranging from old westerns to Californian summers, though more recently he has found an obsession in retro rock posters and vintage advertisements...

You can read the full story in our Latest 'Street & Style' issue out now.