Stellar Leuna is an Australian artist whose creations exist within a universe populated with witches, girl gangs, occult symbolism, and the hint of impending violence.
Stellar’s bold black and white linework is reminiscent of classics such as the Hernandez brothers, Daniel Clowes, Coop and Steve Dillon – filtered through the aesthetics of Buffy, the Pre-Raphaelites and Tara McPherson.
(Art below by Stellar Leuna)
With a recent debut solo show at ‘The Tate’ behind her, and a growing legion of fans, now is the perfect time to get to know Stellar by reading the Art Talk below…
Name + D.O.B?
Stella Leung, 31st October 1991.
City, State n Country you’re from?
(Art below by Stellar)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Ms. Leuna’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, boys, school, crime… ANYTHING ma’am.
* age 10 – beginnings:
Hanging out with my bestfriends, jumping on our trampoline in the backyard, watching Video Hits on Saturday mornings.
* age 15 – getting serious:
This was when I discovered Alex Pardee, Tara McPherson and Audrey Kawasaki and a bunch of artists that inspired me to keep drawing.
They were basically the people that made me realise pursuing some sort of career in art wasn’t a totally unrealistic dream.
* age 20 – adult mode:
I was in uni studying graphic design.
I worked extremely hard on my assessments but also spent a lot of time rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and appreciating it in a different way to when I’d watch it as a kid.
(Art by below by Stellar)
I don’t really have one.
My dad always says “Don’t be scared. Don’t be lazy” and that helps me get stuff done.
L7, Veruca Salt and the Melvins.
Favorite TV show(s)?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Sports infuriates me.
(Art by Stellar below)
The Wizard of Oz!
It’s about a group of misfits who go on a road-trip together and fight witches and end up saving an entire town.
I’ve loved it since I was 3.
Favorite books and comics
‘Blow up and other stories’ by Julio Cortazar, Grant Morrison’s ‘Kill Your Boyfriend’, ‘Summer Blonde’ by Adrian Tomine, and of course ‘Love and Rockets’.
The Hernandez brothers are absolute geniuses.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
I feel like the Pre-Raphaelites were like the low-brow/pop-surrealists of their time.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Making my own hours and being paid to do what I love doing most.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Sometimes I want to be forced to wake up before 10am.
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
A bit of everything mixed together.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
I started drawing when I was about 4 because me and my sisters were obsessed with classic Disney movies and Sailor Moon.
Me and my twin sister would basically copy what our older sister drew. She kinda outgrew drawing eventually though, but we kept on doing it.
What did you draw as a pre-teen child?
I pretty much drew the same sort of thing I draw now only the girls have more of a disco-y fashion sense rather than a witch-y one.
(Art below by Stellar)
What did you draw as a teen?
Lots of floating heads and girls with big fringes.
Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?
It was definitely when I first read ‘Ghost World’ by Daniel Clowes.
I never got into comics until I read Ghost World. Comics used to seem so foreign to me until I read Ghost World because it’s such a male-dominated medium.
I just wanted to see female heroines that were real and not overly sexualised for once.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
Most people would say they “fell into it” but it was a fully conscious decision for me.
I basically graduated from uni and didn’t feel like getting a full-time job straight away like all the other sensible people in my year, so I saved up to travel for a little bit to work it all out because that 4 year old inside me still wanted to be an artist.
Then one night I listened to a podcast with Jim Lee (DC and Image Comics) and he said when he was in his 20’s he made the decision to be a comic book artist so he started drawing like he was already doing it full-time (he was apparently unemployed at the time).
He’d draw everyday until he got good enough to eventually submit work to Marvel and DC. You should read all his rejection letters though, you can find them on the internet somewhere. They’re amazing.
It’s crazy to realise that somebody of his level of talent and skill had to start from the bottom too. So that basically settled it for me.
I just sat and drew everyday until my arms hurt for days and eventually I got better at drawing and inking and people started noticing my work through social media.
I am no where near as good as Jim Lee but one can dream.
Describe the method of making a Stellar Leuna work? (dot point all o.k.)
I have a bunch of reference images I’ve collected over the years that I always refer back to when starting a new piece.
I sketch a million thumbnails and pick the best one and work from that one and draw and redraw until it looks decent.
(Pictures below of Stellar’s work desks)
What are the best and worst parts of living and being an artist in Australia aka Convict Town?
Worst would be that art supplies are too expensive and Eckersley’s does not have a realistic loyalty system.
How, in your opinion, has the rise of platforms such as Instagram and Bigcartel/Etsy impacted the life of an emerging artist/creative?
Being able to promote and sell your work through the internet has definitely changed the way people consume art.
It’s made it a lot easier to gain exposure because you’re basically forcing people to look at your work all the time.
What were the highs and lows of your recent show ‘Fatale’ at ‘The Tate’ held in September this year?
It was my first solo show so it was as good as it could be. I sold a bunch of shirts and zines and a couple original pieces which was really great.
The low was definitely only being able to show my work for one night.
(Pictures below, including the show flyer, from Stellar’s debut solo show ‘Fatale’)
It doesn’t feel much like an art crew. It’s more like a karaoke crew.
(Picture below of James, Chris, Stellar and Gerald – L to R)
Odds n Ends
What role did toys play in your childhood?
Toys were a huge part of my childhood just like it is for other kids.
Although I never really had very cool toys, mostly we were limited to playing with barbie’s.
I think I collect toys now more obsessively than I did as a kid because I can actually afford to buy them myself.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
Alladin or Leo DiCaprio in ‘Titanic’.
Just a couple of cool homeless guys.
Does sex change everything?
What does this have to do with my work.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
Me and my boyfriend were up watching movies and eating cinnamon toast crunch late one night and when we went to sleep I dreamt that I was playing with 10 fluffy white puppies in a barn while a man in a panda suit slept and then woke up and watched us in the distance.
My boyfriend dreamt a similar dream where he was swimming with beavers in a lake or something.
I never usually dream about playing with puppies so I’m pretty certain it was the CTC working it’s magic on us.
Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?
I was really curious about them in high school but now I don’t really give a shit.
I can’t draw while I’m drunk so I don’t really see how I could possibly focus while on any drug.
Is there really an arts scene, or is it all just being seen?
I have no idea. Just keep making stuff and show people.
If you were going to offer a crash course in the female body, to classes of 12-13 year old boys, what would it involve?
This sounds like a nightmare.
Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why? (Feel free to sketch a prototype as well.)
Who would win in a fight and why: a twee as all hell indie boy Vs. a book-smart asian nerd girl from the burbs? (Feel free to draw the battle in all its horror!)
I would win.
(Girl gang by Stellar below)
What does the occult mean to you? (I ask as it is a constant theme in your work)
I always loved horror movies, ever since I was really young I’d try whatever I could to stay up late with my sisters whenever ‘Scream’ or ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ were on tv.
We were allowed to watch them during the holidays and my parents were never super strict about us watching too much of it.
I think my fascination with the occult probably came from all of that stuff, just consuming horror movies and pop culture constantly.
I was also born on halloween so naturally dressing up like a dead person or a witch or a ghost whenever it was my birthday just made me curious about the occult.
(Art by Stellar below)
Any collaborations on the horizon?
No not really.
Any major projects you want to hype ma’am?
Just working on my own personal work at the moment, and trying to develop ideas for future projects that I’ve had my mind on for a while, but I don’t want to talk about that too much just yet.
- Stellar Leuna – Site
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- Stellar Leuna – Online Shop
- Stellar Leuna – Facebook
- Stellar Leuna – tumblr