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*INTERVIEW* Philip Lumbang talks bears for his solo show "And I'd Like to Thank..." @ Dragatomi 10/11

While the East Coast is getting ready for NYCC, the West Coast has a treat in store for them this weekend as the folks at Dragatomi are hosting one amazing art show the features the work of artist/illustrator Philip Lumbang! With his solo show titled "And I'd Like to Thank..." he pays tribute to all the creative forces that helped mold him into the artist he is today as he interprets these inspirations using his iconic "Awesome Bear" mascot figure. I had a chance to sit down and pop off a few questions to Phil in a short little interview about his art, and his upcoming show, sooooo... hit the jump and give it a read, awesomeness awaits!!!

So Phil, can I call you Phil, or do you prefer Phillip... drop some knowledge on our readers, just who you are and how you got started in this crazy wild world of being a professional artist.
Phil is cool, well i was born in the suburbs with big city dreams. Ever since I figured out how to hold a pen I've been drawing my ass off, I'm 25 now. I guess I leaped into the art world when I started to go to art school, got my degree and got a graphic design gig right after.

After doing a little research on you ( yup, I dug deep) I noticed that you work/worked as an assistant to Shepard Fairey.... pretty cool! How did this come about and are you still Obey'ing it up :-)
Yup, i started as a humble intern and worked my way up to graphic assistant, you know the big leagues. I don't work there anymore but we still keep in touch every now and then. Learned a lot over there.

"HOW DO YOU DO" Mural - date unknown

That's seriously... and I am sure Shepard had some invaluable info to share! Tell me about your art, it's very simple in concept and features a reoccurring character... the bear... what's with the bear?
Yea, that bear is my mascot. he's basically a representation of all that is good in the world. my main focus behind my art work is to inspire and make people smile. Drawing from my back ground in graphic design, logos have always fascinated me. I mean you could recognize a well branded logo from a mile away instantly, so I wanted to give my "Awesome Bear" that same kind of recognition.

You gotta have a mascot... it's strong brand recognition for sure! So has you work always been about nature, I notice the majority of your work focuses on animals not just bears.
No, when I first started to figure out my niche, I'd draw robots and aliens. I mean I can draw what ever I want but when i started drawing the bear something just clicked and all the pieces slowly started coming together. As long a people still like it ill keep painting the bear and other woodland creatures.

You sketch, paint, and hit the street doing mural's and paste-ups of your work... and I notice it's very much on the lighthearted side... are you a lover and not a fighter, the type that always has a smile on your face? What is your inspiration behind such fun work?
Lover for sure, O save the fighting for video games haha! But when I was doing the street art thing it was more as a retaliation against the overly masculine, alpha male aspect of the art form. It was all the same you know? How many rip offs have you seen on the street? Always something getting re-approprited into a stencil like, "I know lets put a bandana on a SMURF" or "lets make Andy Warhol hold a spray can!". My neighborhood was just full of uncreative, creativity. So I wanted to do something different, unique and fun.

Right there with ya on that... hug it out!!! Tell me... have you seen your work progress? I notice a serious progression in your work that I have found online... and this latest body of work for your upcoming show titled "And I'd Like to Thank..." opening at Dragatomi really shows more sophistication, do you feel that way as well?
LOL I can't even look at my older stuff, it makes me cringe. My website is HELLA out of date, I'm just to lazy to fix it. But yea, this show has my best stuff in it. Maybe 3 years from now I'll hate all of it, I'm my own worst critic.

This is true in all aspects of art... we are our own worst critics for sure! Your upcoming show this weekend looks like a ton of fun and I just love the iconic pop art characters reinterpreted by you! Can you expand on how you come up with the concept for your "And I'd Like to Thank..." show, and can we expect more shows like this from you in the future?
Thanks! The idea came from the location of where the show is. Dragatomi in Sacramento, and I was Born right here in sac town. So i got super nostalgic thinking about how i use to spend my time growing up and watching A LOT of TV. Then I came up with the idea to do tributes to all my favorite cartoons and i expanded it from there. I would definitely do this type of show again but maybe at a MUCH larger scale, like 5ft canvases maybe.

How cool is that, heading back home :-) so out of all your pieces in this show, which one hits home for you... you gotta have a favorite right?
I am a HUGE transformers fan, I spend a lot of $ fortifying my Autobot and Decepticon army. I like have no more shelf space. So I would have to say my 'Starscream' bear.

Since you brought up toys... I gotta ask, since I write alot about designer toys, have you thought about taking the leap from 2D to 3D and turn your bear character into a figure?
HELL YEA, I'm just waiting for the right deal really. I had a few come and go but nothing sounded right to me. Maybe I should produce my own right?

CMYK BEARS 18" x 24"print series - date unknown

Do it yourself, that seems to be the way to get things done these days! So most of the pieces in this show have not been seen just yet (except in this interview), what can viewers expect to see at Dragatomi this weekend?
Prepare to see your favorite characters like you never seen them before, NOW WITH MORE BEAR ACTION!

So after this show, what is next on your plate... big plans to ring in the end of the year I hope?
Work work work, I have a show in the UK early next year so ill be busy through out the end of the year. I have a baby boy on the way, so I'm pretty excited about that. Other than that I've done my time partying and its just not as fun as it use to be.

Congrats on the upcoming new addition, and dude it was such a pleasure to do this interview, and your work is really impressive. Enjoy the opening and hopefully our paths will cross in the near future... as you seem like a cool guy that I could drink a beer, or 5, with :-)
Hell yea! Great questions! Looking forward to some frosty ones.
Be sure to head on out for the show this Saturday, October 8th 2011 at Dragatomi from 7pm-Closing as Phil will be on hand to say hello and sketch for fans... and be prepared for bears, bears and more bears :-)

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