At the heart of The Galeries is our deep appreciation of the arts. Over the years, we have had the privilege of working with some of Australia's most exciting artists to tell the stories of our community through visual representation.
One of our latest collaborations is with Sydney-based artist Stellar Leuna. Born in Kowloon, HK and raised in Sydney, Stellar started out in self-publishing her own art zines and designing merch for bands and local streetwear labels. Her bold cartoony renditions of “satanic panic” imagery inspired by the covers of her favourite punk and heavy metal records make her work appealing not just to those in the underground art world - a fact that has become evident since her collaboration with major fashion labels Prada and Tiffany & Co in 2018.
We chatted with Stellar about the artwork she created for us, about her background and inspirations as an artist, and her advice for artists in these uncertain times. Read on!
TG: What does it mean to be an "Artist" today?
SL: Being an artist today consists of a lot of different roles other than just drawing. Not only do we constantly have to find new inspiration constantly, we also have to be our own accountant, manager, creative director, self-motivator and postman, you also need to find time amongst all of this to put all of your ideas onto paper in a way people will understand without verbal explanation.
TG: Your passion for illustration stemmed from a young age. When did you know you wanted to pursue it full-time?
SL: I knew I wanted to pursue art full time since I was about 14 or 15. Even with my dreams of being an artist as a little kid, I didn’t think it would actually be possible realistically until I discovered contemporary illustrators and artists who were doing both their own art as well as commercial illustration. Seeing examples of artists like me back then really helped to forge my path into art.
TG: You started off using just brush and ink. Now you're designing for a range of mediums. Can you tell us a bit about your work process, and what you're experimenting with now?
SL: I still mainly use brush and inks but have also painted with acrylics for things such as murals and larger canvas paintings. I also work digitally sometimes but the outcome is almost identical to when I use a real brush as I’ve fine-tuned my digital brushes to mimic the way a real brush would look. I’ve adapted my art into animation as well and really enjoy seeing my work come to life. It’s something I definitely want to explore more of. I also love comics and enjoy writing and illustrating my own when I have the time.
TG: When you have an artist block, where do you turn to for sources of inspiration?
SL: I usually do freehand figure drawing to find poses that I like that usually spark ideas for certain scenarios I could possibly illustrate. Another way I do it is just read books and do research about topics I am interested in and what ends up coming out on paper is my thoughts on whatever that may be.
TG: How did you approach your artwork for The Galeries and what was the concept behind it?
SL: I was trying to represent the “Always On” concept in the simplest way possible. The geometric pattern behind the two figures represent lights, signs and the general liveliness of the centre that I feel when I walk through it. Whether it’s to shop, eat dinner, pass through to Pitt St. mall or to catch the train, there is always something happening in every corner of The Galeries.
TG: What do you hope viewers will take away when they look at the artwork?
SL: I hope they see themselves in the artwork.
TG: Do you have any exciting stuff coming up we should keep an eye out for?
SL: I wish! It’s a bit risky health-wise to be doing exhibitions so I’m just working on creating more art.
TG: If you're not in the studio drawing, where would we find you?
SL: Before things got weird, I would be going to shows, playing shows and going to the movies. Nowadays I’ll be taking walks in the park or hanging with my cat at home.
TG: With such uncertain times ahead of us, what would be your piece of advice to other artists right now?
SL: Don’t feel pressured to make stuff. I think creative block is inevitable for artists at times like these because we are all very sensitive to our surroundings, which is why we make art. So if you find yourself unable to do that right now there isn’t anything to feel ashamed of. The ideas always come.