Lucas Irwin is an artist living in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two sons. After living and working in New York City for 10 years Irwin recently relocated to Portland and has since opened up a new studio and is beginning to work on some new projects. We recently talked with Lucas Irwin about his early inspirations, past works and of course his latest print Transparent Radiation which is available now on 1xRUN.com.
1xRUN: Ok, do you want to tell me a bit about your latest print, Transparent Radiation?
Lucas Irwin: This series of images is an ode to a song of the same name by an 80s English rock band, Spacemen 3 (click above to hear the tune!) In my mind I was imagining overlapping feedback loops while I was cycling through bits and pieces of images that I had recently been using in a series of paintings. I wanted to use a minimal pallet to achieve a maximum effect, while allowing simple accidents of layering to show through. The palette is a holdover from my day job as a print designer, it is essentially the CMYK print palette with a bit of neon green for a less than transparent radiation.
1xRUN: About how long did it take you?
Lucas Irwin: Hmmm. It’s been a while since I made it. I couldn’t tell you how long it took. I do remember going through a lot of versions before I achieved the balance and tension that I was after. The process involved piecing together shapes and elements that had been floating around in some work that I had been putting together for a show around the same time. I had been doing these fairly involved paintings with lines and geometric shapes, using overlays and masking with tapes and spray paint. When 1xRUN approached me, I wanted to see how it would play out as a screen print, instead of the masking and taping—which I was approaching very organically. I approached the print with a little tighter, more refined style because it was silk screened, but I still allowed some of the accidental nature to come through. So there are sort of elements that overlap or seem more accidental. Intentional mistakes if that make any sense?
1xRUN: Right, right, you’re combining the two styles a bit.
Lucas Irwin: Exactly. Having something that’s really tight and controlled on the one hand and then on the other hand throwing these elements together and letting accidents happen has created a nice interplay between the shapes and the colors. Again, much like Lo-Fi 80s drug rock of the prints namesake.
1xRUN: Do you want to talk about this print being a 3-panel triptych?
Lucas Irwin: Initially we were talking about releasing the 3 separately, sort of a “You can collect them all!” approach. As the design progress it became clear that the pieces needed to be together to make sense visually so we ended up going with 1 run triptych.
1xRUN: Ok, so what else is unique about this print you’ve created for 1xRUN?
Lucas Irwin: I wanted to create an image that was graphically strong and bold and used a limited amount of shapes and colors. Try to keep it very minimal but create a maximum amount of punch, if you will. Basically to see where I could get with three different pairs of line combinations in the whole print. With the triptych it was about creating interplay between the panels. And you can never go wrong with CMYK… plus a little green for good measure.
1xRUN: Ok, let’s talk about how you got your start making art. What was the first piece that you made?
Lucas Irwin: I guess you could say I was born into it. My mother was a collage artist and my father was a painting professor and my grandparents were artist in their own right as well. Being surrounded by art as a child meant that I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Making art was just a factor of life, much like eating or sleeping. I was an artist before I knew there was such a thing. Now I get to experience the same thing through the eyes of my own kids. I love drawing with my kids and watching them experience the limitless possibilities of their creativity before anyone has a chance to put the breaks on. I’m really excited to start a new series of collaborative robot/spaceship drawings with my 5 year old, Isaiah. He is my new partner at Filth Robotics and my biggest inspiration as well.
1xRUN: Ok, how did the name Filth come about?
Lucas Irwin: Filth started out in the early 90s as a short lived DIY t-shirt company. The shirts didn’t last too long, but the name stuck. I’ve been using Filth and/or Filth Robotics Inc. to represent myself and various projects for close to 20 years now. The robotics aspect came from watching too much anime as a kid. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese animation, robots, spaceships and what not. Often when I am making a painting or image I imagine myself as a technician or engineer in a laboratory building the next robot. You might not be able to tell from looking at them but they are all robots.
1xRUN: Ok, any artists in particular you were heavily influenced by?
Lucas Irwin: One of my favorite artists of all time is the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely. I love the flow and lines that he created using discarded mechanical parts. I’m also a big fan of Francis Picabia, particularly his mechanical abstractions. I guess both these guys appeal to my sense of “mechanics as art” or vice versa which kind of goes back to the whole idea of Filth Robotics. I’m also a huge fan of architecture and design. People like Le Corbusier, Alpers and Josef Müller-Brockmann. I like plenty of contemporary work as well, but it’s easier for me to refer back to the past.
1xRUN: Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought personally?
Lucas Irwin: Awww geez. There’s been a lot of work traded over the years, but let me think here. I think the first thing that I bought was a Shepard Fairey print like 12 years ago from a show at CBGBs. It was a diptych and it’s now the centerfold of Supply and Demand book so I guess it was good choice.
1xRUN: Ok, do you have anything else upcoming?
Lucas Irwin: Nothing on the immediate art front now. I have a few licensing projects I’m working on at the moment but I’m not at liberty to discuss. My goal this year is to make more work with my five year old son, Isaiah, drawing spaceships and robots and stuff. I love draggin’ him into the studio and letting him go. It’s fun for me to recapture some of that freshness. Hopefully it will culminate in a show at some point next year.
Be sure to check out Transparent Radiation by Lucas Irwin at 1xRUN.com