Imaginative. Unreal. Psychedelic. When first encountering Lurk’s work, these are some of the many words used to describe the experience—and it is an experience. The vibrant colours, evocative patterns, mythological creatures and pop-surrealist vibes are difficult to turn away from. How and where did his unique and trademark style come from? “I get inspiration from the want and need to leave this realm and create my own worlds. I’m inspired by nature and bringing it to life in different ways. This piece was inspired by these things.
Like his Instagram bio says, “I want to create weird worlds and fascinating creatures for you to enjoy,” he has enjoyed creating these characters for nearly 20 years. Reflecting on his experience he shared, “working on larger scale art has taught me to sit in the uncomfortable feeling of patience…sometimes when working on art, we need to step back and then look at the bigger picture.” On social media, he talked about applying this truth to so many things in life by learning to focus on the larger context rather than the smaller details and getting caught up in perfection.
Initially, he went to the location and took a straight facing photograph. He went home and digitally sketched over top of the photo until his character fit in the space. “I had a sketch submitted to the mural festival before I had seen the space or had been chosen, this sketch was vertical and wouldn’t fit so I simply laid down the creature,” he said. He brought it to life using house paint and Montana Spray Paint, “I love working with spray paint—it’s very quick to use.”
The space was “a bit of an odd shape” and the only major challenge for Lurk as an experienced artist. “The scale for sure, it’s not very often as an artist that you get to work at this size,” he said. My projector broke right as I was starting the piece so I had to freehand the whole thing, so I’m proud of the scale especially considering the hurdle.”
Lurk has been an artist for most of his life and started creating when he was younger. “My mom was, and I guess still is, interested in art. I would copy things from her sketchbook.” He shared how his mom “had a lot of fun lowbrow style sketches from the original wave of 60s lowbrow art. I did my first art show in 1994 after being in art school for a little while and it went on from there.”
When asked if he’d done much collaboration with other artists, he said, “I don’t really do much work here, most of my work is in the States and Europe. I’m open to collaboration with local people.” He admitted though, that collaboration locally doesn’t come up often.
Collaboration can create a deeper sense of community and ownership among artists similar to the impact public art has on communities. “I think culture is important and representing all types of different cultures is even more important.” Lurk believes that “public art can do this easily and create and spark great conversation. Not everyone will like what you are doing but you can’t make art for everyone’s taste, that’s a preposterous notion. You can appeal to the people that are intrigued and the city becomes brighter and a talking point.”
When not eating or sleeping, he’s usually creating seven days a week. “I get a little time to chill with family or friends, but for the most part, I feel weird and guilty if I’m not making art.”
Lurk pulled his palette from SICO paints, and Montana spray paint from Iron Oxide Art Supply. It’s bright, weird and wonderful all at once, and it’s completely worth a trip down to 95 Cavan Street to see this Magic Rainbow Bear in person.