unk One’s art embraces the surreal and the abnormal. For example, his most recent collection of skateboard decks features famous boarders as ghostly lime green zombies. Oftentimes he uses these dark images to convey political or social messages. Despite the dark motifs, the man behind the work is surprisingly light-hearted. Is there a disconnect? Munk One says no.
“I think of myself as well rounded with many different interests including expressing a wide range of emotions from dark to light and everything in between,” Munk One says. “I don’t think you can express true feelings of sadness and without knowing what love and happiness is. I personally tend to walk the line of those extremes.”
Born in San Diego, California, Munk One later moved to a small town in Northern California, and finally to L.A., where he currently resides. His art coincides with an explosion of creativity in Los Angeles, where artists like Shepard Fairey, Revok, David Choe, and Mister Cartoon all use the city as a platform for new creative art forms. As Munk One established roots in California, most of his art training was self-taught. He attributes his success to his own hard work.
“I’ve spent a lot of time just practicing and non-stop working through trial and error to figure out what works best for me as an artist,” says Munk One. “I also read tons of books and ask questions whenever and wherever I can. Fortunately, I’ve met some great people along the way have helped push me along as well.”
Now, as an emerging artist in L.A., Munk One showcases his work in a variety of formats: fashion, film prints, band posters, skateboard decks, and fine art. Each medium, says Munk One, maintains its own benefits.
“Whereas there is one fine art painting, which makes it more valuable and precious, a tee shirt is more accessible and impermanent,” Munk One explains.
Munk One gained popularity in 2008 for his Barack Obama election poster. He often uses his art and his talent in support of political or social causes. Recently, he displayed poster and sticker designs at Manifest Equality, a show in L.A. in support of gay marriage and the LGBT community in general.
“There are so many issues in the world that artists can help bring to public knowledge to help push along the evolution of a better more conscious and accepting world,” says Munk One. “One of the most difficult things for me as an artist is balance out my work while [being] true to myself and pushing the limits of myself and my society.”
Using his art to promote and donate to charities also allows Munk One to support certain causes. His print design for Inglourious Basterds benefited recent victims of the Haiti earthquake.
Perhaps the greatest definition for Munk One’s work would be acceptance of the abnormal. Munk One explains that his art, in a way, is a rebellion against aspects of his childhood.
“I think as a child, religion played a large part in censoring vast amounts of images and ideas and feelings,” Munk One explains. “Maybe I am still just rebelling against that whole concept.”
However, Munk One wishes to use his rebellion as a method of promoting acceptance and understanding.
“People can have all sorts of reactions to my work. Hopefully they will be moved to think about why they react that way.”
Story by: Nicolet Corliss