Meet Luke Choice of Velvet Spectrum
Velvet Spectrum (@velvetspectrum) is the work created by designer Luke Choice, an Australian living in NYC. His playful aesthetic blends illustration, 3D, design and typography in a unique expression.
Interviewer Amber Young (@amber) is Ello’s Lead Curator, living in San Francisco with her partner @joy, enjoying art, food and urban hiking.
Amber: Your work blends multiple disciplines -- design, illustration, typography, 3D -- with such finesse. Can you describe the path into your current body of work? Did you start with one discipline or has it always been a natural combination?
Luke: As I'm self-taught, the beginning was all about learning as much as possible about the programs and what it actually meant to be a graphic designer. The first few years doing typical graphic design showed me that I wanted to be much more illustrative with the tools I had finally got a handle on. Not having been taught the fundamental rules of design, allowed me to come at my work from a purely instinctual perspective. My eclectic use of techniques is a product of not being able to say no to anything, which exposed me to so many different facets of design. I never thought I would have the technical ability to learn 3D, but I found myself living in Cambodia for a year and used that time to teach myself Cinema4D, which has ultimately transformed my career. I don't see a separation in the way I work as everything is grounded in color and composition being paramount and allowing that to tell the story.
Amber: The name Velvet Spectrum immediately brings to mind work that is rich in both texture and color. To me, this describes the visuals of your work perfectly. Was this intentional? How would you describe your work?
Luke: Getting to this point of my career, I start to reflect on the path that I've taken and what has led to my current style. I feel like the name was almost a precursor to the aesthetic I've developed, because it came at a time when I was working a lot in the music industry, and specifically the Electro scene about ten years ago in Sydney. Everything was bright, dynamic and bold. Subtlety has never been my strong point and I've always felt that more is more. I enjoy throwing so many different ideas at each other and seeing what compliments, then developing new styles from these random experimentations.
Amber: Outside of the creating realm, away from screens, what activities occupy your time? Is it difficult to find a balance between “work” and “play”?
Luke: Work and play aren't mutually exclusive for me, because I enjoy creating so much, but the way to bring balance is definitely travel. I love road trips, because you get to experience constantly changing landscapes which inspire my work so heavily. Experiencing different people and cultures is something that broadened my mind and allowed me to bring so much more scope to my work. I also love a good kayak down a river or hike in the mountains.
Amber: When asked to reinvent the Ello logo for the shirt design, where did you look for inspiration?
Luke: I always start with the basic breakdown of forms and see how that can inspire the piece. Running with the circular shape and how the mouth is offset to the same path, I wanted to create something that complimented these shapes and drew your eye inward.
Amber: If you could make this design a character in a story, how would that go?
Luke: He would definitely be taking a trip on some hallucinogens, and dancing through fields of ice cream on a hot summers day.
Amber: The internet innately separates the creator from the audience. What are your thoughts on social media, and how it helps or hurts artists today? What do you think of Ello?
Luke: Social media has given me a platform to put out iterations of experiments that I may not have necessarily created if I didn't have an audience to interact with. The more I connect with the communities, the more I aim to entertain and surprise them with the next artwork. Ello and its founders have been given such a positive approach to the creatives ability to publish their work and control how it is available to their audience. A lot of the times, my work will be viewed on a phone screen and I love being able to share details of my work on my Ello page.
Amber: In couple of your series -- Terraforms and Spectrums -- the work appears to present playful patterns and forms, but on closer inspection I can find an elk or a person in the distance and instantly I’m transported into a landscape full of depth. Where does inspiration for these series come from? Would you consider them landscapes? If so, what makes them different than traditional landscapes?
Luke: I have always had such a fascination with objects and landscapes being at such exaggerated scales. The elk and figures take something that could normally be glossed over as pattern or textural work, and instead create an environment that opens up the audience to create their own world and what may be beyond the horizon. I'm a hopeless sunset watcher, and find so much inspiration at seeing it happen over so many different horizons. The colors and formations never cease to amaze me.
Amber: I would love to understand more of these abstract worlds you create in these landscapes. Do you or have you ever created stories for a piece of work? If so, can you share one?
Luke: I have begun to create a series entitled "The Adventures of Everett" which give a personality to my Elk character that has been exploring these surreal landscapes. I want to let these develop and grow organically into something that I can eventually form into a story.
Amber: You’ve worked with some excellent clients including Adobe, Nike, Ray Ban, American Express, Adidas & Universal Music. How does your creation process differ when creating for a client vs creating personal work? What has been your favorite project so far?
Luke: After a lot of years of creating so much content, it allows clients to request something similar to a personal exploration I have created previously. It allows me to work in a similar process which is happy days for me. I worked on a New York City billboard illustration with my buddy Kervin Brisseaux (@brisseaux) for Adobe. We spent 3 days roaming New York for inspiration and assets that we eventually shared with the Adobe community, so they could then create their own artworks with what we captured. Being able to share such a great artwork with a great friend is something I’ll always remember.
Amber: If you could collaborate with anyone -- dead or alive, celebrity, artist, company -- who would it be and why? What would you make?
Luke: Dali would be a blast! His surreal environments were something that always captured my imagination from such an early age.
Amber: Are there any new mediums or areas of business you want to explore? What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
Luke: At this point I have only been full time freelance since June, after being Lead designer at Vault49, so the future has opened up to so many possibilities. The future is really exciting with so many things on the horizon, but I would really love to have my first solo show at some point. Going to get more hands on with my work and look at ways to merge that with the digital side. Also murals and sculpture. The list really is endless. Oh and the book of course.
You can follow Velvet Spectrum on Ello, Instagram, Behance, and Facebook. You can also buy his Ello shirt on Threadless.
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