Art Whore

Art Talk – Louie Chavez of ‘Nuke Beach’

Louie Chavez - Portrait of Louie - 004
Louie Chavez is an American multidisciplinary artist who recently turned his impressive array of skills to the art toy game under the banner ‘Nuke Beach’.

Louie has thus far released 2 large scale, entirely self-produced resin works to much acclaim, with many many more creations in the ‘Nuke Beach’ pipeline.

(Picture below of some ‘Nuke Beach’ resin freaks.)

Nuke Beach - Resin Gang - 001

With Series 2 of ‘Nuke Beach’ in the works, and a slew of other figures ready for release, now is the perfect time to get to know Louie, his art and ‘Nuke Beach’, by reading the ‘Art Talk’ below:

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

Louie Chavez

City, State n Country you currently call home?

San Antonio, TX, USA

City, State n Country your from?

Laredo, TX USA

(Picture below of Louie and some of his art)

Louie Chavez - Portrait of Louie - 005

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action­figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING man!

* age 5 – beginnings:

Around age five all i ever did was make a mess with play dough.

* age 10 – continuations:

Around this age is when I became the true 80’s kid.
I got really into giving my parents a hard time by begging for Transformer toys And He Man stuff.

(Picture below of Louie as a kid)

Louie Chavez - Kid

* age 15 – getting serious:

After excepting that I was not going to get every toy I wanted, I began to get back into clay and start sculpting my own stuff.
It was cool but still not anywhere near the real stuff I wanted. Luckily I was able to attend a magnet school for the arts and got some great one on one sculpting instruction by South Western artist Armando Hinojosa.

* age 20 – young adult:

This is around the time i got tired of sculpting and really got into painting. I felt there was less process in completing a painting than a sculpture.
This is when I moved to San Antonio from Laredo and really wanted to show my work in a gallery setting.

(Picture below of Louie in his 20s)

Louie Chavez - 20s

* age 30 – adult mode:

After spending some time getting to know the local scene i was able to secure some great creative friendships with other local artist.
After this is when i started working on bigger installation work and even some experimental music production.

(Pictures below of some digital art by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art - 011

Louie Chavez - Art - 010

Personal motto?

Make sure to do the opposite of whatever art everyone else is doing.

Favorite band(s)?

Daft Punk, Suicide, anything with Mike Patton.
Also really getting into Vektroids vapor wave productions.

Favorite TV show(s)?

Seinfeld and the Office always had a calming effect on me.

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

I really don’t follow pro sports much but i would have to say San Antonio Spurs.

Favorite movie(s)?

After years i have been able to get a confident top three movie list of all time:
Batman 1989, Signs, and There will be blood.

Favorite books and comics?

I just finished Steven King’s Dark Tower Series, those were amazing books.
I worked in a comic book store for a bit and really got into the Evil Ernie comics.

Art Questions

Why the name ‘Nuke Beach’?

I really wanted to do some creature toys but always loved the old skate and surf style of the 80’s and 90’s.
The name just popped in my head and all i can think of was a mix of Jim Phillips skate art of the 80’s and the TMNT toys of the 90’s.
After that all the other material and ideas came easy. I also loved that i was able to include some relevant world happenings like holding the surf competition on the Fukushima beaches after the disaster.

(Pictures below of some ‘Nuke Beach’ art)

Nuke Beach - Resin - Fukushiman 002

Nuke Beach - Resin - Chum Bucket 002

Favorite other artist(s)?

Really liking the art of David Altmejd and Rob Pruitt.
They both do beautiful large scale installation work without being overly conceptual where the process becomes visually absent.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art­hustle?

I think all of it is great but i would have to say the hardest part is keeping up with social media.
I used to dismiss the technology but now i realize how useful a tool it is.

Best aspect of the contemporary art­hustle?

When something finally goes the way you want it!

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re­hashed crap?

I really want to believe I’m doing original work but that’s almost never the case.
Re design some Re hashed crap.

(Picture below of some body painting by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Body Art - 001

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?

Man i feel i been making art since i was small kid whether i knew it or not.

What did you draw as a pre­teen child?

I remember drawing my own Mega Man Levels and Bosses.
…And a lot of monsters.

What did you draw as a teen?

This is when the monster drawing got serious.
I remember one time i gave my dad a self made connect the dot game only to reveal a drawing of a demon.
…I was grounded after that.

(Picture below of a sketch by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art - 008

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

Yea when I discovered the Chicago pop art collective called “The Hairy Who” .
These guys did some great surrealist pop art that kinda validated the craziness that i had been painting at the time, and these dudes were big in the 60’s and 70’s.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

I found it really refreshing and exciting that San Antonio had a vibrant art scene.
Growing up in the border town of Laredo really had nothing to offer in the arts.

In our initial discussions you mention having spent many years working in both instalation and painitng… care to elaborate more for those at home?

I really liked the idea of engulfing people in an environment totally based on your art and design.
When i learned that the Pee Wees Play House set design was based on Gary Panter’s art work it gave me some exciting ideas of my own.

Highs and lows of the years you spent running your old gallery – ‘Plazmo contemporary’?

Running an art Gallery as one of my all time goals as an artist.
During the three years i ran the space with collaborator James Medrano i felt i got a crash course of artist wrangling. It was an absolute blast but i felt it became more of a party atmosphere after a while and lost focus on my own work.
I’m pretty confident we ended on a high note.

(Pictures below of some old ‘Plazmo Contemporary’ logos )

Nuke Beach - Plazmo Contemporary Gallery - Logo 002

Nuke Beach - Plazmo Contemporary Gallery - Logo 001

Please describe the process and materials used to produce some of your non art­toy work such as:

* your mixed media works – such as ‘Muscle Beach’ ?

That particular piece was for a show dedicated to the visually impaired.
The work was meant to be touched so i went with some great inflatables that i had lying around and constructed “Muscle Beach”.

(Picture below of ‘Muscle Beach’ by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art - 002

* your more traditional 2D art suvch as your illustrations ?

Being a big Fan of artist Peter Saul I began to work with turning figurative elements into a blurs of  compositions and abstractions.

(Pictures below of some more traditional art by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art - 003

Louie Chavez - Art - 005

Louie Chavez - Art - 004

* your paintings ?

As far as painting i also liked the large scale work of Jeff Koons and Peter Saul.
I concentrated on coming up with a small drawing the cropping it down until it formed a entirely different compositional image but with traces of the original elements.

(Pictures below of some paintings by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Painting - 002

Louie Chavez - Painting - 001

Louie Chavez - Painting - 003

* your instalations ?

Lately i have been turning small rooms into little pop up night clubs based on my art and design.
I use large foam sheets and found furniture to construct light weight sculptural elements to line the walls with.
After that i start to experiment with setting a mood and environment with fx lighting , music, and projection mapping.
Last project I worked on was converting a small hotel room into a  Japanese hen ti fetish disco room called “SUPAFAKUMACHIN”.

(Pictures below of some highlights from the ‘SUPAFAKUMACHIN’ by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Supafakumachine - 001

Louie Chavez - Supafakumachine - 002

Toy Questions

Describe the process of producing your resin creations? – from original sculpt, moulding, production, to finally holding that sweet sweet resin in your hands… (dot point all o.k.)

The whole process was pretty intimidating.
I dropped some good money on all the materials and didn’t get started on anything until 6 moths later. I had the concepts ready to go but i wanted to be sure i had all the right materials and instruction before i got started.
After the sculptures were produced i had a friend of my who did set design for sea world walk me through the molding and casting process. After that is when i started having fun with packaging and branding.

What are the back narratives / tales to some of your resin creations such as:

* Chum Bucket ?

Chum Bucket is the closest thing to the villain of the series.
I wanted him to be this gutter punk looking surfer who gets fused with an equally villainous shark and squid.

(Pictures below of Chum Bucket from ‘Nuke Beach’)

Nuke Beach - Resin - Chum Bucket 001

Nuke Beach - Logo Art - 002

* Fukushiman ?

Fukushiman is the reigning Nuke Beach Surf Champion.
I wanted him to project this California style meat head that probably gets all the chicks he wants.
I would say hes the Hero of the series.

(Picture below of Fukushiman from ‘Nuke Beach’)

Nuke Beach - Resin - Fukushiman 001

Nuke Beach - Logo Art - 001

* The Cruisers ?

The Cruiser toys were merchandise for my “SUPAFAKUMACHIN” installation.
I made a one of a kind set of four figures for the project.
These were my first attempt at toy making.

(Picture below of the Cruisers figures by Louie – his first ever resin art toys)

Louie Chavez - Art Toys - Cruisers

Is the slime you include with your figures home made or store bought man – and if it is store bought, what brand?

I buy these little buckets of slime at a dollar store down my street.
I’m not sure the brand because all the box says is silly sludge.

Resin Vs. Vinyl toys – who wins and why?

Right now i have been working only in resin.
Maybe after making some more money i can invest in some high quality vinyl production.
I think the end result with vinyl toys is way Superior to resin.

Are art ­toys for the kids?

I cant imagine any parent spending 100 bucks on a toy for their kid.
I think designer toys is in a very special market of adults who still love being kids.

Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?

I think right now its maybe more just toy nerds trying to make a buck.
I guess i would like to see more narrative and concept behind some of the toys that are being produced right now.

(Pictures below of some art by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art - 013

Louie Chavez - Art - 012

What does your family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter Pan aspect of toy art + toy collecting?

They pretty much had to deal with my projects since i was a kid so i feel they are not as surprised any more.

What role did toys play in your childhood?

They played a huge role!
I was always curious of who were the artist behind the myth making of a lot of the toy lines of the 80’s.
It seemed they could extend a story line to last for several years and it just expanded the universe witch made me obsessively complete my collection.

Odds n Ends

Please describe your experiences growing up in America?

Growing up on the border of Mexico turned me on to a lot of experiences early in life.
I remember being able to drink and attend some pretty rad Mexican dance clubs at only the age of 15. So i feel i maybe had it a little different than any average American teenager.

Who was your 1st crush and why?

My first hard core crush was this girl named Lenny Garza.
Beautiful blond girl who wore great heavy metal t shirts.

Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?

Maybe a Stretch Armstrong toy can be re purposed as some weird sex toy.

(Picture below of Stretch Armstrong as a sex toy – by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art Talk - Sex Toy Art

Who would win in a fight and why: an outer suberbs surfer in town for the weekend beering it up Vs. an inner­city­takes­no­shit art chick? ­

Inner city art chick for sure!

(Picture below of an art chick beating up a surfer guy – by Louie)

Louie Chavez - Art Talk - Fight Art

Does sex change everything?

Everything is sex.

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

Last dream I remember clearly was that i woke up on a futuristic highway where cars were propelled with hovering magnets.
…I think i had just seen Minority report.

Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?

Probably the best time i had was doing mushrooms.
I was hanging with some Buddy’s and we all decided to take a group picture. After it was taken i looked at the picture only to see every ones faces warped out of place. At the time i was totally convinced that they had some sort of phone app that made them look that way.
…I was just tripping hard.

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I guess i would like to be remembered as an artist who made his own way despite not falling into inner circles of butt kissing and name dropping.
I always respected artists who had work pumping out constantly but you knew nothing of their personal life.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

I think they are a waste of time but fun to do once in a while.
I think of it as a way to get out of yourself for a moment then come back to work refreshed.

Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

I think we are gonna head into a point were after being so connected digitally with the world we would start to appreciate a more analog way of producing things.
Just the appreciation of practical special fx in Hollywood coming back in a big way despite the overwhelming computer generated tech that is standard today.

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

Now that I feel more comfortable with the sculpting and mold making process, I’m looking to collaborate with another artist Friend of mine Albert Alvarez.
He is an amazing illustrator and painter so I’m hoping we can produce a figure where he can create all the box art and story line for the figure while i sculpt and mold the product.

Any major projects you want to hype?

Right now I’m in the process of sculpting series two figures for Nuke Beach.
But before that i will be re releasing  another run of solid color series one figures with a more affordable price tag, and a line of two pack mini mutation figures that ill also run for a more affordable price.
Also Nuke Beach play sets!

(Pictures below of some upcoming ‘Nuke Beach’ figures)

Nuke Beach - Mini Mutation Figure - 002

Nuke Beach - Mini Mutation Figure - 001


Nuke Beach - Resin Gang - 002

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