QWUX is an artist, designer, curator, editor and all round Australian art scene king. QWUX is firmly part of the ADD generation of artists – forever working on multiple projects, in multiple mediums, all imbued with QWUX’s unique talent.
And QWUX’s main themes? Well that’s easy – Japanese culture, food, computer games, pop art, designer toys, and being an all round legend! Hell, QWUX is such a good dude that when asked what he would most like to be remembered for – he simply answered: “Helping people.”
(Some art by QWUX, below)
With QWUX recently revealing his new project – ‘STUPIDkid’ – and having recently arrived back home in Australia after spending time in Japan, now is the perfect time to get to know the man and his art by reading the Art Talk interview, below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
25 April 1985
City, State n Country you currently call home?
City, State n Country your from?
(A self portrait by QWUX, below)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING man!
* age 5 – beginnings:
I cracked my head open at school and needed stitches, but all i remember was bleeding everywhere in the playground, and then eating ice cream once it was all over.
* age 10 – continuations:
One of my aunties used to give me art lessons, proper fine art styles, where i was only allowed to draw the same looking still life in a variety of mediums.
I never thought this was something i would use, but looking back it was the first real introduction to art that i had, instead of just regular childhood drawings.
* age 15 – getting serious:
Getting seriously distracted at school. Art was the only thing i paid attention to at school.
I was at a prestigious sydney private school and i hated it. I used to get out of class to go to the art rooms as much as i could. My art teacher really understood that it was all i wanted to do, and one day my English teacher gave me a free pass to leave her class and go to the art room as it was less distracting for other students. I started using the art room computer lab to fool around in photoshop, as well as drawing and recording everything in my black books.
* age 20 – young adult:
Not much to report here… i floated around after school for a while, and it wasn’t until i was 22 that i finally decided to go to art school and focus my creative energy, i enrolled in printmaking at Sydney College of the Arts, where i became obsessed with screen printing and the process of being able to create a huge amount of prints from the same design.
* age 25 – goings on:
Art was my only focus, i was creating digital illustrations, and turning them into screen printed posters as often as i could.
I started exhibiting when i was 24 and by 25 i had been in 9 group shows, including my first show in NY. This was when i started to get interested in exhibiting and also curating and hosting shows. Together with a bunch of friends from uni i started an artist collected called Rah Collective, and through our exhibitions we also started an art book publishing company.
For a few years, my whole life was dedicated to exhibiting, putting together shows, judging art prizes and putting together books. After a while the art collective broke up and i lost that focus. I was still exhibiting, but not organising, and only putting work together when i had been asked to be in a show or something.
* age 30 – adult mode:
Time to refocus. I started a new book series called COLLECTEDworks, which aims to expose new illustrators and artists/photographers with a print on demand book. I plan on expanding this to be some kind of digital publication with a bit more regularity, but also produce a “best of” type book every year.
After taking some time off from art, and working as a designer for Warner Bros., then Roadshow, then Warner Music, it was time to refocus on art, so i quit my job and moved to Osaka with my fiancé. We live in a nice apartment looking out over the city, drawing in the morning, explore our new city during the day, and cooking delicious food at night.
After a while we will move back to Australia and decide what the next move is going to be, but it is clear that i can’t leave art alone, and i will be getting back into exhibiting as soon as i can, hopefully here in Japan if i can produce a good new body of work. So far though i feel like this change has been a very productive one for me.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
I grew up on Blink 182. They are still my all time number one, but lately i have been getting into some more interesting things..
Current high rotation artists are Spacegirl Gemmy, Yung Lean, Higher Brothers, and 6dogs.
Favorite TV show(s)?
I can watch the US Office anytime. It’s pure gold. But lately i have been getting into more anime. I love cute shit like Himotou Umaruchan, but also like the dirty joke anime, like Denki Gai and Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
My all time favourite sport is snowboarding. that’s why my knees are so shitty and i can’t skate or snowboard anymore (until i downgrade from XXL i hope).
Jeremy Jones is my all time favourite snowboarder, but Danny Davis is a super chill dude who is always fun to watch. As for team sports, i like playing basketball and soccer, but i don’t really follow any teams.
It’s a super old pauly shore one, and i think one of the first things i bought on DVD.
It’s stupid funny and i love it.
Favorite books and comics?
I’m a really slow reader, so i don’t read much, but i have read every book by Chuck Pahlinuk, the author of fight club. He is pretty dark but also really funny.
A friend also recently introduced me to the manga artist Inio Asano, and he is amazing. i thoroughly recommend Dead Dead Demons, D D D D Destruction. It’s kinda near future sci fi teen daily life. Very interesting and a great drawing style!
Why the name ’QWUX’?
QWUX IS DEAD. LONG LIVE STUPIDkid….
QWUX was a random collection of letters. That’s the honest truth. Back in the early 2000’s when raves were cool, a friend of mine was making rave candies with letters, and got to the bottom of the pile and couldn’t make any more words… I grabbed the letters and managed to get QWUX out of them, and from that time i used that moniker for everything, from illustrations, to my Counter Strike name and also for forum handles.
Due to the massive amount of downtime QWUX has had from the art world, i decided to change it this year to STUPIDkid. This new name better reflects how i feel. I might be over 30 but I’m still a stupid kid.
Favorite other artist(s)?
BRACKMETAL (aka Gerald Leung) is my current favourite artist. I want him to make a book of all his characters.
I’m also a huge fan of the process of Jonathan Verzosa, Playkill.sc, Josh Thorsen, Dirty Robot, and Yewot.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Social media sucks. Or i suck at social media. Not sure which way it is, but there are so many talented people out there and everyone is so accessible now that it is much harder to stand out then it used to be.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
See the worst aspect.
Being able to see what everyone is doing really makes you lift your game even more then if you were just working in a bubble.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Oh man, i wrote my honours thesis on this and after almost sixty thousand words of primary research i still don’t have a good answer…. i think of my work as illustration.. (how’s that for the soft answer)…
There is the argument that illustration isn’t art or design, and some artists hate to be called illustrators as they think it devalues their work, but i like the term illustrator, and that’s what i want to be known as. I am also very aware that i worked as a commercial designer for over a decade, and that most of my creative skill was born through the need to know the tools as a designer. I finish my drawings in a program called “Illustrator” and i finish them in a program called “Designer”, so that’s about as confused as i can be! haha.
But i think it’s art. If you make it with the intention of showing it as art, then it is art. otherwise the argument goes around and around in circles… trust me.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
My first real artworks were still life when i was young. My aunty was an art teacher, and passed on a whole bunch of skills to me by showing me how to draw still life in a variety of mediums.
But i consider my first true artistic output to be when i started exhibiting.
What did you draw as a pre-teen child?
I have the worst memory, so i barely remember anything before being about 20, but it was the still lives…
What did you draw as a teen?
I drew a bunch of tattoo designs.
I was obsessed with tattoos and iconography for as long as i can remember, and i think my high school major work was based around the world of tattoos. They were these big multi layer sharpie drawings hung with a light behind them, and i remember bullshitting about how seeing through them allowed you to see the meanings of the icons or something like that. But really i just thought it was cool.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
Seeing one of my best friends go to art school was probably what put me on the path to where i am today. If he wasn’t at art school, and i wasn’t doing shit all at the time i probably would not have been exposed to that world.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
2009 – We were prepping for a show at art school, and we had to organise the whole thing. I decided to get majorly involved in the exhibition and i loved it. This was the same year i started to get invited into group shows and also had the amazing opportunity to show my work internationally for the first time.
That’s when i got hooked on exhibiting. The books were a natural progression from the exhibitions for me, as they gave me the ability to show art to many more people, particularly given how spread out Australia is.
Describe the method of making a ‘QWUX’ work? (dot point all o.k.)
* your digital art?
All my digital art follows a similar process. I like a formula, and i think that comes from my training as a screen printer. If you can follow a similar formula, then nothing is going to go wrong…. right?
I start with an idea. Usually its just a word or lyric or some form of prompt written in the notes app on my phone.
From there i will source reference images, either go and take photos myself, or search all over the internet till i have images that will work for me. Sometimes i will do a rough digital collage to make sure everything is fitting together, but most of the time i don’t.
Then i open Illustrator. I start with the line work, always drawing in magenta or cyan so i can see the lines clearly, or if there are lots of elements to the drawings, i will use a palette of colours for each element, which makes selecting different parts easy.
My digital files are super organised too. every element is a seperate group or layer, colours and line work stay on seperate layers, if a part of the drawing is finished, or not currently being worked on it is locked so i can’t accidentally fuck it up. That stems from my commercial design work where many of the supplied assets for features films could have hundreds of layers and masks and adjustments… if you fuck that up and have to ask for the files to be resupplied, then lots of people know you fucked up.
Once all the line work is finished, i start colouring from behind. i like to do things in Muted Fluro™, a term i have been using for a few years to describe the colours in my work. It’s not really trademarked, but don’t steal it please.
Once the image is coloured, and all the linework is finessed, i take the image into Designer to apply the finishing touches…
* your sketches and drawings?
Most of my “sketches” are just words in a list…. that’s the idea, and it usually stays like that until i start on the full fledged illustration. Lately though, a friend introduced me to manga artist Inio Asano, and so i have become obsessed with the idea of using G Pens and comic ink to illustrate everything.
I feel like this kind of drawing is a split from my digital work which is my main focus, but it is definitely something i want to explore more.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
You are very prolific project wise… please explain the following projects and your role within them:
* ‘RAH Collective’?
Rah Collective was the artist collective come publishing company i started with kids from art school. We held a bunch of shows, gave a buch of artists their start, published a bunch of books and then folded it all up as we moved apart in life.
* ‘Collected Works’?
COLLECTEDworks is kind of my own personal extension of Rah Collective.
It is a book series that is released yearly to showcase illustration and other art and photography. There are no rules to it, anyone can submit and i just choose the work that speaks to me the most.
I am hoping to turn it into a regular digital publication as well as the yearly book which will become a Best Of of sorts, but we will see where that goes. at the moment i am focused on my own personal illustration, so this is on the back burner.
* ‘Diamond Teeth’?
Diamond Teeth was a series of t-shirts i released over the last couple of years.
It came to me one day.. Teeth are hard. Diamonds are hard. So Diamond Teeth must be HARD AS FUCK! haha. It’s really just a dumb joke with a cool logo (that is a diamond tooth) that i just wanted to explore as t-shirts. I plan on rolling everything into the same family of brands or something soon, so we will see what names survive…
* … and the upcoming ‘Stupid Kid’?
STUPIDkid is me. it is what i am doing now – digital illustrations that will probably turn into march and shows and books and all the things i like. Definitely going to be making stickers of the things i am drawing these days.
(Pictures below of apparel released by QWUX under his ‘Diamond Teeth’ brand)
Care to explain your use of 6 eyes as an oft repeated symbol in your works?
The 6 eyes were a point of difference. When i started doing that style there were a lot of illustrators doing similar work to what i wanted to be doing. To make it different, i added more eyes, which i thought kept it really interesting and also made it a bit creepy.
It stuck for a long time, and its only recently, when i stopped drawing so many portraits that i haven’t been doing the 6 eyes.. They will appear in future illustrations, probably through the pen and ink drawings i plan on doing, but for now, they are taking a break.
Toy + Collecting Questions
What role did toys play in your childhood?
I don’t have that many memories of toys as a kid. I was more a bike ride and trampoline kinda kid, and i didn’t watch many cartoons so the characters didn’t appeal to me. But i do remember having a couple of action figures that i used to always do crazy shit with, like having them zip lining down some stairs with string. They were fun, but not a huge focus.
I don’t have any specific memory of it though, toys have really come into my life over the last decade or so, when i started collecting.
What are your thoughts on the current designer toy scene – i ask as i know you are a collector and fan?
I love it.
The internet has made things so accessible, but also, there are so many people who flip rare toys for ridiculous prices. I’m hoping to explore toys here more.
My own interests have moved away from the Urban Vinyl and more towards sofubi by individual creators, but it all comes down to the aesthetic appeal of it, and for me, there is a ton of awesome stuff out there.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Please write a breif timeline of your collecting history?
I don’t remember the years, but i was actually one of the early people in Australia to have a wholesale account with Kidrobot. I imported a whole bunch of their Blank Munny’s to customise with a friend, and i think i still have a few of them around… Then i got into their dunny series of toys, trying to collect all the chase figures like so many people have.
After this i came across a guy on tumblr making a little squid resin figure (ED: made by Australian artist Scribblin Phil of ‘Eitlobsaboo‘), now we are friends but back then it was such a thing of beauty i just had to get my hands on one!!! It was amazing, and that was my first introduction to resin figures made my rad people in their homes!
On my first trip to japan, i was shown a figure by Usugrow, Rebel Ink. This toy is one i still collect 8 years later, and there is a pink one i have seen in the same toy shop here now for a couple of years in a row that i really want, but its 800 bucks and i can’t justify that.
In 2012 i co-hosted a Custom Vinyl Toy show using a little white vine bunny figure i managed to source. we had 22 artists from all over Australia customize them, it was super rad.
Last time i was in japan i bought a bunch of sofubi. I had no i idea who the artists were, i just liked what i saw and bought a bunch of toys. I also became obsessed with Gashapon, and the Vinyl Artist Gatcha series of toys, which were mini vinyl toys by artists, that were available in gashapon machines (such a rad idea). When i got home, i bought a glass case and set it up with lights and staggered shelving and i became obsessed. This is when i started looking into toys more, and befriending a bunch of other toy collectors.
Just before moving to japan i even did a one day course in resin toy making (ED: taught by ‘Art Whore’s good friend Shane Haddy of ‘Hints And Spices’), and its something that i definitely want to explore more once i finish developing a character that i think will look good. I have never seriously worked in 3D before, so its going to be an interesting transition!
(Picture below of the toy sculpt produced by QWUX under the guidence of Mr. Shane Haddy earlier this year.)
Item(s) you have lost, sold or given away that you wish you still had and why?
I haven’t actually sold or gotten rid of anything yet….. yet…. haha
Favorite 3 items you own and why?
Standard Grey Usugrow Rebel Ink (prefect character design)
GID Lamour Supreme Mongolion
Clear with Guts Badteeth Comics Cheesetroyer
Top 3 grail items you would like to own and why?
Translucent Pink Usugrow Rebel Ink – best colour way of my favourite character designer
Mishka Bootleg – huge fan of miska and these guys are often in the coolest colour ways!
Mutant Vinyl Hardcore DX Death – such a rad ugly sofubi, but they always sellout super quick
Thoughts on ‘The Sucklord’ and his current role in the toy / pop art scene?
Oooh man im so unsure on Sucklord. I don’t know enough, but his whole aesthetic is on point. I’m not a huge fan of the bootleg style of toys, but he goes above and beyond with the packaging to really tell a story with them and i respect that.
Odds n Ends
Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see as a sex toy, and why?
Samurai Pizza Pocket Pussy – AKA a pocket pussy modelled after Polly from the samurai pizza cats… (can’t call it a polly pocket pussy, i think people would get confused).
(Picture below of QWUX’s ‘Samurai Pizza Cats‘ tribute pocket pussy)
Who would win in a fight and why: Homer Simpson Vs. Ultraman?
Homer Simpson… he just ate the shit out of ultra man….. too easy.
(Picture below of the battle in all it’s epic beauty!)
You are a major fan of the culinary arts, often sharing your dishes online…
* why the love for food and cooking?
I love cooking. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It allow creativity and gives sustenance, and its something that i share with some of my closest friends and my fiancé. We love to come together and cook and learn new ways to make new dishes.
My grandad was also a chef, and being able to cook makes me feel that much closer to him after he passed away, i just wish i could have shared some more time in the kitchen with him.
* what is your favorite dish to cook + eat?
This is a tricky one, but at the moment it’s Japanese curry. So simple, so delicious.
If i could cook better ramen, i would say ramen.
* strangest meal you have ever eaten?
I’m not big on the whole freak foods scene. I like good wholesome foods, but i won’t go out of my way to try something just because it is considered weird.
My favourite non standard food lately was horse tartare. It was delicious.
Please describe your experiences growing up in Australia?
Riding bikes till it was dark, swimming before the water was warm enough for the season, and lots of time outside.
We didn’t watch lot of tv, or cartoons, or video games until i was old enough to buy my own stuff, so most of my growing up was done outside. Now i hate the sun.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
This is a tricky one, as i have the worst memory, but i do remember a really hot art teacher when i was in highschool, so that probably helped fuel my love of art.
Does sex change everything?
Yes, a sex change would change a lot of things I’m sure (hehe i can read, just playing).
Yes sex changes everything for the better.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I don’t tend to remember dreams. I vaguely remember telling Jess about a dream where i found amazing coloured famicom cartridges for an upcoming project at a flea market… Thrilling right hahaha!
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
I have never done anything like that, i tend to have an overly vivid waking imagination, so i have never bothered with them. Plus i was never cool enough as a teenager to be offered anything hahaha!
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
This is a tough one, but the simple answer would be helping people. I like to think i have helped a lot of people find their feet in the art world, through the books, or shows, or even when i was tutoring at Sydney College of the Arts.
If i have helped anyone with their art career, i hope that’s what i am remembered for.
(Some art by QWUX, below)
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Potential gateway to the universe, they aren’t for me at this point in time, but a lot of people enjoy them, so there must be something behind that.
Please describe what you think the Australian Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?
Don’t really understand this one, so pass…
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Jess and i will be starting something new when we return from Japan, which is going to be sooner than planned… but we are going to try and mix our passions together.
Any major projects you want to hype?
Just check out my drawings.
I’m going to be putting out t-shirts and stickers when we are back in Australia, so get excited for that.
- STUPIDkid – site
- STUPIDkid – Instagram
- STUPIDkid – Threadless
- QWUX – site
- QWUX – Instagram
- Diamond Teeth – Online Store