Trained as a designer, her hand painted work is as graphic as it is mesmerising.
Each graphic and surreal work is titled with a numerous name, some favourites being:
How Now Brown Cow
Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk
Say Yes to Less PMS
Speaking about her latest body of work, Luczak says:
“Throughout this series, I applied both a surrealist and feminist lens to capitalism’s engineered impact on animal bodies and our cultural understanding of nutrition. With a specific focus on the dairy industry, I am interested in exploring the way mass media affects our minds, behaviors, thoughts and actions.
By using surrealism’s strong links to pop-culture and advertising, this series is able to question cultural norms through distortion of recognizable marketing tropes to prod at the psyche of the contemporary consumer.
A portion of the title, and a name of one of the pieces, “Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk,” was a phrase that my grandfather made up. He would use it jokingly when he was upset with someone. It has stuck with me for years and seemed relevant to this particular series.”
Luczak is currently pursuing a MA at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Please tell us a bit about you and your work.
I’m originally from Chicago and I have spent the past two years in Bloomfield Hills, MI pursuing my Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I recently graduated and am currently participating in the Talking Dolls Residency in Detroit, MI.
I focus on exploring the intersection of graphic design and fine arts through a mixed media approach. By understanding the history and application of these disciplines, as well as their influences on one another, I am provided a platform to experiment with new concepts.
I work within both digital and physical spaces, ideating through vectorized sketches then transforming them into highly detailed, hand-drawn paintings. As each painting manifests on a panel, I continuously return to and edit the original digital sketches until they most accurately represent my vision. This back and forth process, from screen to wooden panel, allows for new conceptual and formal designs to develop that would not otherwise exist.
If you had to describe your work in three words, what would they be?
Off the top of my head, I would say whimsical, surreal, and grotesque.
What ideas do you explore in your practice and work?
My practice is rooted in both Surrealism and Pop Art. I use my practice as a way to look at the world through a critical lense. Currently my work critiques the following: capitalism, popular culture, nutrition, animal abuse, violence and sexuality. Although it seems like a mixed bag, each piece informs my next piece and series are born with complex and intersecting ideas.
Tell us about your recent series, titled ‘Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk. I Herd It Through The Bovine. Feat. Monsanto and Nestlé’?
Throughout this series, I applied both a surrealist and feminist lens to capitalism’s engineered impact on animal bodies and our cultural understanding of nutrition. With a specific focus on the dairy industry, I am interested in exploring the way mass media affects our minds, behaviors, thoughts and actions. By using surrealism’s strong links to pop-culture and advertising, this series is able to question cultural norms through distortion of recognizable marketing tropes to prod at the psyche of the contemporary consumer.
A portion of the title, and a name of one of the pieces, “Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk,” was a phrase that my grandfather made up. He would use it jokingly when he was upset with someone. It has stuck with me for years and seemed relevant to this particular series.
You have a fantastic way of mixing painting and graphic design! How were you trained?
I was trained as a graphic designer and worked as a designer and illustrator out of college. It wasn’t until my graduate experience at Cranbrook Academy of Art that I began combining design and painting practices. Although I enrolled in Cranbrook’s Design Department, I was lucky enough to sit in on many of the Painting Department critiques. Through conversations with the two chairs of the department, Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith, as well as conversations with the Design Chair, Elliott Earls, I began creating work at the intersection of graphic design and traditional painting.
What has been your most memorable response to your work Violet?
By far, the most memorable experience was trading paintings with two painters I met through graduate school, Natalie Wadlington and Isabelle McCormick. Both of these women are extraordinarily talented and I have looked up to them over the past two years. By exchanging paintings, we non-verbally conveyed the respect we have for each other’s practice and work. Both pieces are hung proudly in my home!
Is colour important to you?
Absolutely! I use colors that create a surreal and unnatural narrative. I plan out my illustrations ahead of time, often drawing digitally, but choose the colors in the moment, allowing for some spontaneity within the work. I tend to use vibrant colors that reflect pop art and commercial advertisements as a way to create tension between the commercial and hand painted elements.
Violet, does your creative energy come from internal or external sources?
Most of my ideas stem from my experience as a female, vegan artist, who was classically trained as a graphic designer. My initial jobs out of college centered around the advertising industry and it was there that I began to critically assess capitalism and the ways in which it impacts my day to day life.
As for where I get my motivation and energy, I would say it’s a combination of being around other creative people and also having time alone to reflect on my thoughts and ideas.
What are your ideal conditions to paint? What is your studio like? And what are your artist essentials to work?
I have always loved working alongside other artists and I consider this is a crucial aspect of my practice. The conversations I have while working in a shared studio space lead to ideas that would otherwise never come to light. I recently moved into a new studio space in Detroit as part of the Talking Dolls Residency. I’m sharing the space with an incredibly talented group of women, all of whom I know and highly respect.
As for my studio conditions, I love to work in open areas with natural sunlight. As my work is highly detailed and clean, a method I use to create handmade works that appear mass produced, the lighting allows me to see imperfections and properly correct them. I use very basic materials. Cheap brushes, tape, and basic artist paints. Although they still add up, it’s a great way to keep my practice practical as an emerging artist.
If you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why?
I would love to own a piece by Suellen Rocca, specifically her drawing Piety, located in the Elmhurst College Art Collection. She was one of the original members of the Chicago Imagists and the Hairy Who and a close mentor and dear friend. Suellen created figurative paintings and drawings from sourced material she found in popular culture and media, something that has inspired me to use my advertising background as a way to influence my paintings. Unfortunately she passed away early this year but her legacy lives on through her work, her students and her family.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I have a one year old puppy who takes up most of my time. She often comes to my studio with me and loves to greet my guests!
What are you working on at the moment?
You’ve actually caught me at a bit of a weird time. I just moved into my studio and am hoping to begin exploring some new themes throughout my work. My last series taught me a lot and I’m looking forward to using this summer as a way to expand my practice and create a new body of work that stems from my previous series, Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk. I Herd It Through The Bovine. Feat. Monsanto and Nestlé.
What is your ultimate dream project?
I am hoping to get involved in creating murals. I was originally going to work with Green Star Movement in Chicago this summer but it has been postponed due to COVID-19. I’m looking forward to when the program reopens. I’m excited to create work that is community and team based and I have also always been intrigued by working on a larger scale!
Who is your favourite historical female artist?
I can’t pick just one but I do know the first female artist that had an impact on me. As a child, I remember my parents taking me to the Art Institute of Chicago and coming face to face with Georgia O’ Keefe’s Sky Above Clouds IV, right above the staircase. I was so small and the painting was so big and vibrant. This was long before I began creating art but it stuck with me and I reference her work to this day.
Who should She Curates interview next?
I’d be happy to give you a few recommendations.