Melbourne-based artist Lucas Grogan can turn a phrase like no other. His work has been featured in Hong Kong, Beijing and across Australia as well as on clocks, clothing, tea towels, plates and scarves through his enviable collaborations with some of Australia's top designers, not to mention his eye-catching mural work adorning the streets of Melbourne. Safe to say we've become a little obsessed. Luckily, he was in town last week for the opening of his new show ESSENTIAL READING.
What can you tell us about ESSENTIAL READING?
ESSENTIAL READING is a big show for me. One of the stand out works for me in the show is a work called A LIBRARY, which is a life sized painting of a bookcase with over 3000 unique book titles such as "Wank Yourself Thin" and "WHY THE ART WORLD NEEDS MORE NEON". Additionally the show includes a massive embroidered and applique CLUSTERFUCK Quilt which is sort of like an embroidered explosion of ideas and thoughts from the past year.
You’ve said that increased publicity does not always reflect commercial success. Have you found a balance between the two? How?
It will always be a balancing act- I guess the idea is that I just have to continually keep at it, not compare myself to anyone else and hopefully make enough of my work to pay my rent and eat whilst at the same time creating the work I think I really need to make.
You work in a studio surrounded by many different designers and artists. Do you find that this helps your creative process at all?
Absolutely- My studio is pretty unique in that there are so many different people working in so many different fields, I'm constantly learning new techniques, new ideas and it's great to bounce these ideas off of each other.
How does the design community differ from the art community?
The design community are more than willing to share information, both inter-personally and online. This swapping and sharing helps to create and promote a really interesting and vibrant community. The art community is not necessarily like that- they prefer to remain aloof and pretend at times that what they make is not design (which is fine) -but they're also more unlikely to share information.
You have worked with ink, animation, paint, beading, needlepoint. What medium are you most comfortable in?
All of them. I consider myself a drawer- however I may use, thread, ink, paint, whatever. Ultimately they're all still drawings. (But probably embroidery is what I LOVE MOST).
You grew up in Maitland, NSW. What do you think you would be doing now if you had stayed there?
Jesus... I think I would have done my hairdressing apprenticeship and opened a hairdressers called CURL UP AND DYE somewhere in East Maitland.
You’ve said that your work is about detail and pattern. How do you find working in that refined style on such large-scale projects such as murals?
You have to scale it up- ultimately given the nature of public works, you'll be there for months if you try to maintain the same level of detail as I do in my drawings. The murals end up becoming more painterly and graphic.
You have done some brilliant collaborations (SKARFE, RITTENHOUSE, Third Drawer Down). Are there any designers you would love to collaborate with but haven’t?
I really love collaborating and I've been really lucky. I guess I just like working with people who are driven and work in fields that I haven't worked in before.
ESSENTIAL READING is showing at the Hugo Michell Gallery until December 10.
You can also nab one of Lucas' scarves at Council of Objects on Ebenezer Place.