Friday, April 29, 2011

Featured Artist: Vil Luangraj

I am so excited to introduce to some of you (I'm sure many of you already know Vil) Mr. Vil Luangraj. I have known Vil for many years now. We met at a Meg and Dia show, saw some of his amazing artwork, began working with him on Meg and Dia projects, and the rest is history!

The latest project Vil did for us is a sailboat t-shirt that will be available soon along with a whole bunch of more merch on our storenvy site.

His artwork has been used by the following artists as well:

-Ronnie Day
-Falcon Scott
-ThreadSence Clothing
-Anna Judge April - Singapore
-Fly Upright Kite

Now, without further ado...

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Vil and I am a cartoon-esque artist. Some of my friends call me Bear.

Apart from creating what do you do?

I love to longboard! It’s a type of skateboard. I’m moving to California in a couple weeks and I can’t wait to do it along the coast as the sun dives behind the sea and the waves crawl up and slide along the sand. I also love to travel and hope to road trip all over the U.S. I’d like to explore New England and experience New York City and its’ unique culture. I want to find some of the hidden gems tucked away in America’s folds and wrinkles. Lately I’ve also been more into searching for and watching indie films, documentaries, and listening indie music. Indie films are always more true to life and I can’t escape the charm of indie music. It really projects the soul of artist and you wonder what kind of person they are and what kind of life they’ve lived. At least I do anyway. Ha ha.

What would be the title of your memoir?

It would have to be… “The Life and Times of a Dreamer”.

Where does your inspiration come from?

You know that tremendous feeling you get when you see something like an elderly couple holding hands while they sit on a park bench or when you come across something from your childhood and the rush of fond memories cascade from forgotten corners of your heart? It comes from things like that I think.

Who has been most influential in your art?

I’d have to say probably Norman Rockwell and Hayao Miyazaki because whenever I see their artwork I want to stop and look at it or buy it. Ha ha. I have a Norman Rockwell painting, likely a reprint, and many works by Miyazaki. Norman Rockwell always tells some sort of a story in his work and the people in it feel so alive in the way they interact. That may be my favorite part. Miyazaki is so imaginative and I love the imagery he creates to tell the stories in his films. The artwork is usually simple but has so much character. It’s very unique to him and you can always tell it’s his work from just a glance. I think what I learned from him is that it’s about substance of the small details. You can be simple with your artwork and still give it great presence.

When did you know you were an artist?

Probably when I started to consistently get request to do artwork. I love to draw and have drawn since I was a small child. I still come across old spiral notebooks from when I was a kid and they’re filled with doodles of things like super heroes and robots. It was always that I drew to project the fruit of my imagination to pass the time, but now I have people asking me to draw things for them for publication or for them personally and that‘s a great feeling. Art has always been a part of my life in a significant way for as long as I remember and I think I wouldn’t ever really feel complete being anything other than an artist. It is one of the things I enjoy most in life. I think that’s really important for everyone to do what they love and what makes them happiest.

How would you describe your creative process?

I’d say it’s very simple. I don’t have much of a studio or anything. It’s just me with my headphones on playing music from my laptop on my bed with a sketch book and a small pencil box of art supplies. I usually draw at night with a small lamp on. It kind of sets the mood like when you were a kid under a blanket with a flashlight reading a book, like in the movie “The Never Ending Story”. I drown out everything with music and just relax and draw. When I’m asked how I come up with some of the things I’ve drawn, I don’t really have an answer. It just comes out from somewhere in my head onto the paper I guess. When I was little, my mother never let any of my friends over or let me go over to friends houses because she was very overprotective so being very imaginative was the remedy to any boredom that kind of life inevitably conjures.

If you could peak inside the studio of any artist (dead or alive), who would it be?

Most definitely Norman Rockwell. I’ve seen Hayao Miyazaki documentaries and have seen how he works, but Norman Rockwell is from a different era. He’s from a time before all this technology. Just imagine what must have inspired him in the eras he grew up in and lived through. He was military artist during World War I and illustrated for the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn books. I wonder what kind of person he was and what thoughts swirled around in his head as he sat in his studio, lost in his work. To look over his shoulder and prod him with a question here and there while he worked on his art would be a real treat.

What piece of art do you own that you most cherish?

My most cherished piece of art is the very first poster I did for Meg & Dia. It means a lot to me. Not only is it the first piece ever published but it was for my favorite musicians. I have it framed along with the first tour poster from my first Meg & Dia show and the first shirt the band printed with my artwork. For people who I looked up to and admired creatively to acknowledge and appreciate my art to the degree of wanting it to visually represent their music was quite surreal and tremendously encouraging. The thought of doing artwork for the band had never crossed my mind because I believed my talent to be mediocre at best. I remember when Nick asked me in Hollywood, outside the venue as I waited to get in for your show, if I wanted to draw a poster for the band and I just stared blankly in shock and said “…Okay.” I remember you laughing at my astonishment. Ha ha. I think doing artwork for your favorite band would be something one would have to work up to and hope to possibly achieve and it is crazy that it was my inaugural publication. Whatever I may do in my career as an artist, my time doing artwork for Meg & Dia will always be what I hold dearest.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?

I will usually walk away from what I’m working on and do something else to clear my head. My over-thinking and habit of wanting things to be fit perfectly together is often the cause. I’ll think “Okay, what should go here? What belongs? What is meant to be here?” to the point that whatever I think up doesn‘t feel good enough. Most of the time it’s that I’ll draw in something that looks great but I feel it doesn’t quite fit into the piece as a whole. Those are the times my floor becomes strewn with eraser shavings. Ha ha. So I’ll go do something like look for new music, watch different videos online, or play a video game. Anything to make me stop thinking about the artwork so that I can come back fresh.

Where would you like to be in ten years?

I really just hope that wherever I am and whatever I end up doing, that I am happy and have good people in my life. I like not quite knowing on what untold shores my ship will make anchor. Time is short and waits for no one. The cogs seem to turn faster with each passing year and I hope by the time the last stroke reaches the last corner, that the pages of my life are lush and tell the story of someone who chased his dreams on the backs of fireflies on warm summer nights. Someone whose courage did not fail him when his gaze was met by a beautiful stranger and their meeting became more than just a memory, left to decay. And of someone who ran like the wind toward every new horizon, with his arms outstretched under cerulean skies, baring his teeth and breathing deep the blowing wind.

To check out more of Vil's work check out @ ThreadSence and Fear to Faith


  1. Perfect timing! I finished my online quiz so quick. I needed something to kill the time. If I didn't it would look like I cheated or something...

    This was a great read. I've been wondering about Vil since we met on the boards back in Febuary, and now I know (more).

    One last thing, it's ironic how you've mentioned the sail boat T-shirt because I am wearing it to San Francisco today. Plus Vil and I spoke about it a few days ago!

    P.S. I've kept my promise. There are no pictures of the new merch anywhere online ^_^)

  2. Awesome interview. I caught a bit of Vil on the fear to faith blog TV thing the other night, his artwork is really awesome. I like the cover art he did for "The One."

    Meg! I've been saving a bunch of money in my Paypal for new merch day. It's getting hard to hold onto it though, so... don't keep me in suspense too long!

    Speaking of blog TV... it made me happy when you said you were gonna be at some Warped dates selling stuff, because I was planning on flying down to one of the Texas dates... gives me an excuse to travel! All the more reason now. I'll come say hi!

  3. I want to marry you Vil. You and your artistic MaD-loving self.

    Not really, but the point is I think you're awesome.

    You should do more of these interviews, Meg. I enjoyed it. It's interesting to know different artist's creative processes and where they draw inspiration from.

    And Vil rocks.

  4. ... And Kenny got merch? The jerk. Imma go to his house and steal it.

  5. Wooh, go Vil!! He's such a cool dude and so very talented. That was a really lovely interview.
    And I agree with Alyce, you should do more of these, Meg!