The Luxurious Villain collection is the story of consumer goods battling for our attention while determining what is real and fake... and, more importantly, what constitutes value. LUCKY, the cat is based on the f-14 Tom Cat logo. The cat and other components of this narrative are byproducts of my childhood.
The collection is broken into four parts:
This collection is a tongue in cheek play on society and consumerisms using streetwear graphic sensibility. I used logo flips and non conventional techniques to play back to the no holds barred DIY approach that comes from streetwear graphic language.
The idea of the cat is an amalgamation of the essential creative growth period in my life. The first was my childhood when I first fell in love with art through comic books, art, animation, and video games. The initial idea for coming up with the Luxurious Villain project was from a shirt that I did for a brand I used to own called Gatsby. I created “Lucky (2 tails)” the cat’s body from these three essentials influences in my life:
In the Navy, I worked on F-14 fighter jets. The mascot for this plane is a grey two-tailed tomcat. The cat has two tails to represent the twin tailpipes on the fighter jet. While in the Navy, I did some nose art when I was part of VF-103 (Sluggers/Jolly Rogers) on an F-14 to commemorate the top-secret mission for the Lantirn system. which Dale Snodgrass flew (who has the most flight time on an F-14 and was a consultant for the movie Top Gun). The artwork that I did was later turned into a limited edition die-cast m del by the Franklin Mint as well as many other collectibles.
The maneki-neko (招き猫, lit. 'beckoning cat (fortune cat)') is a common Japanese figurine which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. In modern times, they are usually made of ceramic or plastic. The figurine depicts a cat, traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail, with a paw raised in a Japanese beckoning gesture.
CARTOON AND VIDEO GAMES
The second attribute about Lucky hails from my early childhood and my love for cartoons and video games. In my early childhood, Mickey Mouse was the first magnanimous and influential character. His world was captivating and went beyond the screen and his earlier silent cartoons of "Steamboat Willie." Something was terrific about watching that simple animation, even more so as an adult, to see how one man's imagination could influence so many children's lives. I also pulled cues from Felix the Cat. I love how he had a calm disposition. To me, Felix lived within his world, which was through his self-contained magical bag. He is like a genie who controls his lamp and uses it at his discretion to navigate our world. I also feel like Mickey Mouse and Felix represent the internal cat and mouse game. We chase and play with the things we want, most of us never catching it. The eternal dance that we all play at some time in our lives.
The colors of the cat come from childhood influences and time in the military. Therefore, each color is very personal to me.
Black and white - Line art.
These two colors are the hallmark of all early animation and cartoon art. It also metaphorically represents the opposing sides to any conversation. Like the" Lucky," there are two sides to every tale.
Red - Kaneda's jacket in Akira.
I remember when my friend Rob introduced me to Akira. This cartoon blew my mind. The theme hit home about teenage angst in the city—the action and energy. I was lost in how they made the lines of the motorcycle. I was amazed. This animation showed the energy and power of streetwear and youth culture.
Blue - Spideys' suit.
When I was elementary school age, I was a die-hard Spiderman fanatic. I recall wearing my Halloween spidey mask well into December. My mom had to hide it to ensure I didn't sneak it to school. I didn't even realize at the time that Peter Parker was college age. I am enamored with his high-flying acrobatics and the way that he would swing throughout NYC like a modern-day Tarzan. There was something to be said about how Spiderman was also hustling his photos. He seemed natural to me. His stories seemed down to earth and the opposite of my cousin's favorite at the time, who was more outlandish...Superman.
Sky blue and light green - Super Mario Brothers hats.
I️ was playing Mario since he was going up against Donkey Kong. I recall begging my mother tooth and nail to get me a Super Nintendo, the only reason being to get my hands on the super Mario cartridge. Everyone was talking about it. It broke the mold for video games at the time, especially with its gameplay. To me, video games made wherever your game system has turned the space into an instant social space. It was the young men's gentleman's club with every waiting on next to get on the controllers. I️ was one of many players that fell into the allure of buying into the Mario allure. His storylines pulled you in with the various worlds and bosses. Sky's the limit.
Pink - Tom's ear from Tom and Jerry.
I️ watched Tom and Jerry when I️ was younger but fell out of love with them due to their muted engagements but animated interactions. It seemed weird that they had such incredible stories but never actually talked. Plus, my stepfather used to hog up the television watching Tom and Jerry. It wasn't until his passing did I️ start watching them again; it was as if we were watching together and a great Memoriam; I️ had a new appreciation for them. I️ began to protect them and saw the appeal that my stepfather saw, and I learned a great deal reflecting on the lessons he put out that were subliminal...and fabulous. It was great storytelling that didn't need dialogue. I️ was able to give the characters my tone and voice. It is effortless to see why there is an animation classic. Plus, I️ feel that this hits home for me because Tom is a tomcat, hence fitting the name.
Greys - Federal standard F-14 Ghost Grays.
I️ used the federal standard colors for the paint used for F-14 planes. This hits home since I️ worried about F-14 tomcats when I️ was in the Navy. I️ felt like this just tied everything together and tells the story of my journey of going from boy to man. I️ was a young boy that didn't know what direction he wanted to go in and was prompted by my mother, father, and stepfather to go into the military is trying to figure it out in New York. Upon joining, I️ learned a lot about myself and the world. Through this journey, I️ realized that I️ still wanted to do something with art, which led me to fashion. During my time in the military, I️ enjoyed painting a tomcat for the secret Lantern, which later turned into a limited edition collectible by the Franklin Mint.
Dark green - Incredible Hulk.
Need I️ say more. I wouldn't say I like the Hulk. I️ used to watch Bill Bixby turn into Lou Ferrigno "you don't want to make me angry!!!!!! I️ would tune in as if this was my prime tone drama: Gamma radiation and omnipotent strength. I️ remember reading secret wars and finding out that the Hulk had no limit to his strength. I️ automatically wanted to use Hulk green for the money that trails "LUCKY" because there is a poser in the dollar.
Dark yellow - Pac-Man.
I️ used this for the dark color of the coins for the cat. If you ever entered an arcade, you know about Pac-Man. This game was the game to battle for neighborhood arcade bragging writes. This game had everyone rolling up to it and memorizing the patterns to get to the next level. Putting your name up on the leaderboard of this game was like having your name etched in stone. I️ even had the mini Pac-man match that had the joystick on it. My cousin was the family Ms. Pac-Man master. I️ think that she could have beat me with her eyes closed.
Yellow - Simpson's Skin
I️ watched the Simpson's from Tracey Ullman show. It was amazing watching this cartoon on prime time tv. It was a different format for a variety show as well. When I️ was in the military, I️ used to airbrush hip hop Bart Simpson tee shirts as part of my side hustle. I️ even painted a picture of Barts' foot on a skateboard for my Nike Airmax 90 25th anniversary art collection.
The last part about the cat is my time in fashion. I wanted to represent this via the Fortune/ Lucky cat that usually adorns the entryways of many Asian businesses. The way that I represent this is with the money that flies behind Lucky. He is always looking for it but doesn't' realize that he has to look from whence he came, and he will actualize all of his desires. Also, my passion for fashion prompted me to use the give and take relationship between streetwear and couture fashion.