Interview: Zeke’s Lunchbox
By Gemma Rizzo
Sydney based artist Julia Angelina Rich aka ‘Zeke’s Lunchbox’ creates incredible interplanetary illustrations that are loud, bright and visually mesmerising. Looking at Zeke’s work, one is transported into her imagination and out of this world. BYO caught up with Julia to talk art, prints, creativity and the importance of second nature ahead of her group show with Stayfly this weekend.
So tell me about the wonderful world of Zeke’s Lunchbox? How was she created and where did the story all begin?
Zeke's Lunchbox, or Zeke for short has been through many identities and different facets of the creative industry. It was originally a fashion label, but art was put under the Zeke umbrella as well. Eventually over time, I realised I leaned more towards the art world and have continued on that path. Zeke has become my ID, my art pseudonym and my creative brand, I'd be lost without it.
You originally came from a fashion design background, is this something you think you will continue with? And can you tell us about some of the designers you have worked with as well as your recent collaboration with the label Dgtl Luxe?
I went through the cliche of doing a 180° on what I wanted to do with myself and realised art was more suited to me. I still love fashion but I rather it be a collaborative element in the fashion world. DGTL LUXE are a Melbourne based label and they approached me in early 2014, which was kismet because I was just about to go on a big hunt to collaborate with a label. The result has been amazing and they have just released a black and white version of my print, which has been a big hit!
Textiles was part of my course and they were the classes I worked best in, so it felt fitting to continue on that path. Throughout uni I interned at a few places, and through that I was able to assist in creating some prints for Romance Was Born.That little taste has really made me want to push through and find more labels in the future. The result is so rewarding and it's a great way for the general public to interact with your work.
You have a very distinctive and unique style about all your work! Where would you say you draw your inspiration and ideas from? Do you have any mentors or fellow artist you look up to?
I'm constantly on the hunt for anything kitsch, it has influenced me immensely and I would consider myself a kitsch artist. As a teen I would constantly be on the hunt in thrift stores trying to find the weirdest things in there, which would often result in inspiration for my own work. I try and only consume kitsch culture, that way it's embedded in my system and becomes second nature. It's the only way to make honest work.
Would you say there is one in particular area that you are most passionate about or leaning towards career wise?
I'm really passionate about art and textiles and trying to find ways to merge the two. I'm naturally a lot better at 2D work like painting and illustrating, it's my comfort zone. I can't say I'm leaning more towards one or the other, I'm choosing all of them. It's what my work is about, excess. I choose all of them!
Being a young creative in Sydney and in general can be tough! What motivates you to persevere with it? What gets you out of bed in the morning? For other young ‘up and comers’ like yourself do you have any words of advice?
It sounds awful, but anger and jealousy, if I have to be honest. I would say in the past I was comparing myself to others and how far they've gone but that's a game that can't be won. Now I'm competing with myself. What have I done in the past that I can improve? That's my motivation.
For others, I would say, "Is this what you love?" because that's the only thing that keeps you going. The second thing I would say is; work. Nothing original, just flat out working your arse off and perseverance. You need to work forever, it sounds exhausting, but worth it! In this year alone I have made work I never thought I could ever make and that's because I decided I would give it my all. It's paid off in the best ways, and ways I never thought of.
What’s next on the agenda for Zeke? Any exciting projects, collaborations or events we should know about?
It's crazy because ever since I finished uni in 2013 I planned out what I would do this year and then reassessed I'm going to say more of the same. I've been going a steady pace and I have no reason to just stop. I definitely need to set up some new goals, but I'm hoping more fashion label collaborations and murals.
Group shows are popping up constantly, so those are my bread and butter. I'm in a group show hosted by the Stayfly ladies, who are a great bunch. This is the second year I was lucky enough to be invited. Their shows are all about pushing female talent, whether that be in hip hop, graffiti or art. That one is happening on the 21st of November at Jaws on Oxford street. It should be a great night!
Jaws will be taking place on Oxford Street.
See more of Zeke's work at the following links: