The idea of the cat is an amalgamation of the most important creative growth period in my life. The first being my childhood when I first felling love with art through comic books, art, animation, and video games. The initial idea for coming up with the Luxurious Villain project 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:
The first being my time in the military. I picked a feline because of the F-14 Tomcat mascot. The cat has two tails because the navy tomcat had two tails because the F-14 has twin tailpipes. The tomcat appealed to me because of when I was in the Navy I worked on F-14’s as an Avionics Technician and had the chance to do 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 was flown by Snodgrass (who has the most flight time on and 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 model by the Franklin Mint as well as many other collectibles.
CARTOON AND VIDEO GAMES
The second attribute about Lucky hails from my early childhood and love for cartoons and video games. Mickey Mouse because was the first magnanimous and influential character that I in my early childhood. His world was so in captivating and went beyond the screen and his earlier silent cartoons of “Steamboat Willie”. There was something amazing about watching that simple animation even more so as an adult to see what 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 nonchalant disposition. To me, Felix lived within his own world which was through his self contained magical bag. He is like a genie that has control of his lamp and uses it at his own discretion to navigate our world. I also feel like Mickey Mouse and Felix represent the internal cat and mouse game that we deal with. We chase and play with the things that we really want, most of us never catching it. The eternal dance that we all play in some time in our lives.
The colors of the cat come from the military and influential influences in my childhood and time in the military. Each color is very personal to me.
Black and white - Line art.
These two colors are the hallmark for all early animation and cartoon art. It also metaphorically represents the opposing sides to any conversation. Just like the ”Lucky”, there are two sides to every tale.
Red - Comes from the cartoon Kaneda’s jacket in Akira.
I remember when my friend Rob introduced me to the Akira. My mind was blown by this cartoon. 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 - This color comes from the base of the 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 just knew that I was 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 he was also hustling his own photos. He seemed real to me. His stories seemed down to earth and the opposite of my cousins favorite at the time, who was more outlandish...Superman.
Sky blue and light green - These are colors from The 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 where ever 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 - This is derived from Tom’s ear from Tom and Jerry.
I️ used to watch 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 to me that they had such cool 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 actually start watching them again, it was as if we were watching together and a great memoriam, I️ had a new appreciation for them. I️ actually started to watch 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 great. It was the great storytelling that didn’t actually need dialogue. I️ was able to give the characters my own tone and voice. It is very easy to see why there is an animation classic. Plus I️ feel that this hits home for me because Tom is a tomcat, hence how fitting the name.
Greys - Meet the Federal standard F-14 ghost grays.
I️ used the federal standard colors used for the paint used for F-14 planes. This really hits home for me since I️ actually worried on F-14 tomcats when I️ was in the Navy. I️ felt like this just tied everything in together and tells the story of my journey of going from boy to a 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 actually leads me to fashion. During my time in the military as well I️ had the pleasure of painting a tomcat for the secret Lantrin which later turned into a limited edition collectible by the Franklin Mint.
Dark green - This is the Incredible Hulk.
Need I️ say more. I️ don't like the Hulk. I️ used to watch Bill Bixby turn into Lou Ferrigno “you don’t want to make me angry!!!!!! I️ would tune 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 - This comes from 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 definitely the game to battle for neighborhood arcade bragging writes. This game had everyone rolling up to it and trying to memorize 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 game 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. This was amazing watching this cartoon on prime time. 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 as 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 just look from whence he came and he will actualize all of his desires. Also, my passion for fashion is what prompted me to use the give and take the relationship between streetwear and couture fashion.