Creating new worlds and new species inspired by the strange and imaginative musings that take place in his head, New York-based artist Travis Louie has spent his life crafting his fine illustrative art-making skills and exploring all corners of his imagination. Referencing the visual culture of 18th and 19th century theater and performance, Travis’ creatures and creations feel like they are formal portraits or posed snapshots of mythical beings or mutant abnormalities. Hinting at each individual creature’s personal narrative using small details, Travis is able to create a fantastical scene in his audience’s heads.
Travis holds a BFA from Pratt Institute in New York, and has been fascinated by the reported tabloid monsters since he was a kid. Pair that with a meticulous skill for recreating a photographic silver gelatin print style replication, Travis can bring his creations to life with ease. He pushes the boundaries of reality and surreality with his drawings and paintings. Inspired by the Victorian era of art and design as well as that blurred line between dreaming and waking, Travis’ creations are both terrifying and humorous. His whimsical stylings of his monsters evoke a sense of playful acceptance—these monsters and strange creatures are not outcasts, hunted down and murdered, they are friendly, warm and inviting creatures that have stories to tell.
His use of light and shadow is meticulous and fascinating, realistic and steeped in photographic history. This precision makes sure that viewers of his work question whether what they are looking at is real or imaginary.
The world full of soft-edges and stark and strong personalities, Travis Louie’s created world is populated with sideshow barkers, otherworldly beings, friendly monsters and obscure beasts. His style is highly influenced by film noir, the advent of photography and the fascinating juxtaposition of gentle and tough—his creatures straddle the edge of terror but maintain a kind soul that is easily seen through Travis’ representations.
He uses layers upon layers of acrylic paints over tight graphite drawings on smooth grounds to emulate his imaginative realm that is both antique and modern, scary and jolly, full of history and of fiction. The layering technique is vital to the 19th century photographic style end result of his work. He has been exhibited in galleries internationally since 2007, and recently exhibited “Phantasmagoria” KP Projects / Merry Karnowsky Gallery.