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Julian Peña is a visual artist and art student currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Washington School of Art in Seattle, WA. He has been creating fantastical works of art since he was at the age of 13 years old. Initially, many hours were spent drawing with colored pencils, pens, and COPIC markers. He recalls a time when he was encouraged to submit art works by his high school art teacher in his Advanced Studio Art class to an art fair that occurred at the time. After heightened hope, his teacher brought bad news and told him he didn’t win any prizes. The works on paper he submitted were influenced by anime and manga aesthetics, and the teacher tried to comfort his disappointment by stating this type of style isn’t sought for in fine art. Today he still values his influence taken from the otaku culture, appropriating his work to transcend beyond the material and physical world and into an utopian/dystopian fantasy.
His style—backed by Japanese aesthetics, art history research and traditional Japanese sensibilities—reflects the meticulous mastership of traditional Japanese artisans for a single craft/art such as ikebana, bonsai, Nihonga, gold leafing, and even preparing puffer fish sushi (fugu). By the time he earns his Master of Fine Art, he plans to contribute to the future of art by presently being influenced by post-surrealism, neo pop art, kitschy art, anime and manga aesthetics, graphic design, horror vacui in psychedelic art, graffiti and neo-expressionism. Ideas are taken from the progression of our growing technology and subjugated to intense analysis through the versatility of acrylic artist paints. Bold lines, vibrant colors, simplified values, flat space, and geometric composition dominates his body of work.
Julian Peña has earned six scholarships, was voted best artist in South Sound Magazine’s Best of South Sound contest, participated in group exhibitions, organized many community-based art events and already organized his own solo exhibition.
I have created works of art that surveys Japanese aesthetics in respect of sensibility behind traditional artisanship for more than a decade. My artistic conceptions leech from popular culture, heritage and the historical interactions between Japan and the West. Anime, manga, video games, comic books, modern technologies and animation are instrumental resources, as they portray utopian/dystopian fantasies. The Warhol-inspired business ethics and interactivity with the creative community drives me to produce works of art built on a foundation of art research, digital media to compose studies, and promotional activities to market my art as a Japanese-American “brand.”
Throughout my work, avatars—distinctive characters used in repetition across multiple works of art—boasts unique and unifying conceptualism. For example, the pink octopus-like avatar in “Self Portrait: Nirvana” denote an embellished, deified and utopian/dystopian version of myself. It is an exaggerated comparison of human life and unambiguity of common archetypes. There’s a haphazard approach to a polychromatic work taken from the cyan/magenta/yellow/black model of process colors from print technology. Bold lines in my paintings unifies form, often mimicking Japanese calligraphy or the perfect lines used in digital illustration. An open palette of saturated hues dominate across the works in a 2-dimensional manner.
Acrylic paints are my primary tool, in which I am free to exploit the versatility of the medium. Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol all have been a major influence in my works. My experience with academic research, modern topics, and interdisciplinary art practice continuously evolve alongside my body of work.
- 2012-Present Bachelor of Fine Art, University of Washington–School of Art, Painting/Drawing, 3.93 GPA
- 2009-2012 Associate of Arts & Sciences, Tacoma Community College, Painting/Drawing Major, 3.93 GPA
- 2012 Apprentice, Winter/Spring Quarter-Tacoma Academy of Fine Art
- 2012 Best Artist of South Sound/South Sound Magazine Issue June
- 2011 Primo Grill Art Endowed Scholarship
- 2011 Pearl Peterson Art Scholarship
- 2011 David Lassoie Memorial Art Endowed Scholarship
- 2011 CFM Consolidated Scholarship
- 2011 McCarthy Humanities Scholarship
- 2010 Flex-A-Lite Scholarship
- 2012 The End, The Mix, Tacoma, WA
- 2012 TCC Student Show, The Gallery/Tacoma Community College, Tacoma, WA
- 2012 Dawn of 2012, Fulcrum Gallery, Tacoma, WA
- 2011 TCC Student Show, The Gallery/Tacoma Community College, Tacoma, WA
- 2011 Pop Art, The Gallery/Tacoma Community College, Tacoma, WA
- 2012 Work In-Progress – Mural, The Mix, Tacoma, WA
- 2011 The City Speaks, MetroGruv Nightclub, Tacoma, WA
- 2012 Representative, Figure Drawing Club, Tacoma Community College
- 2011 Treasurer, Figure Drawing Club, Tacoma Community College
Fitzgerald, Michael. “Cumulus Collective Floats Through Tacoma.” The Tacoma Ledger. Tacoma Ledger, 04 2012. Web. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. <http://thetacomaledger.com/2012/12/04/cumulus-collective-floats-through-tacoma/>.
Nagle, Matt. “Creativity and community celebrated at Cloud Nine // Artist Julian Pena again brings art to the masses, and vice-versa, at The Mix .” Tacoma Weekly. PCCNG, 20 2012. Web. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.
Kinoshita, Lisa. “An Artful Thanksgiving.” Tacoma Arts. WordPress, 22 2012. Web. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <https://tacomaarts.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/an-artful-thanksgiving/>.
Nagle, Matt. “Local artists bring their works to the public at The Mix.” Tacoma Weekly. 21 Jun 2012: n/a. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/view/local-artists-bring-their-works-to-the-public-at-the-mix/>.
Trillium. Linda Ford. Print NW: Tacoma Community College, 2012.
Ponnekanti, Rosemary. “New local artists invent and explore in “Dawn of 2012” at Fulcrum Gallery.” Tacoma News Tribune. 14 Feb 2012: n. page. Web. <http://blog.thenewstribune.com/arts/2012/02/14/new-local-artists-invent-and-explore-in-dawn-of-2012-at-fulcrum-gallery-tacoma/>.
Carroll, Bryan, Steven Jones, and JD Elquist. “Meet Julian Peña.” The Camp. The Camp, 14 Feb 2012. Web. <http://thecamptacoma.com/meet-julian-pena/>.
Davidson, Dave. “Emerging Artists Featured at Fulcrum Gallery.” Tacoma Weekly. PCCNG, 09 Feb 2012. Web. .
Clayton, Alec. “”Dawn of 2012″ impresses at Fulcrum Gallery.” Weekly Volcano. Weekly Volcano, 01 Feb 2012. Web. <http://www.weeklyvolcano.com/entertainment/visual-edge/2012/02/dawn-of-2012-show-emerges-at-fulcrum-gallery-tacoma/>.
Evans, Katy. ““Dawn of 2012″ Breaks at the Fulcrum Gallery.” Post Defiance. 27 Jan 2012: n. page. Web. <http://postdefiance.com/dawn-of-2012-breaks-at-the-fulcrum-gallery/>.
Trillium. Linda Ford. Print NW: Tacoma Community College, 2011.
- 2012 Downtown Tacoma Block Party, Live art and face painting.
- 2011 Downtown Tacoma Block Party, Live art and face painting.
Hosted Art Events
- 2012 Cloud Nine, The Mix, Tacoma, WA – An unique art event inviting the Creative Community, merchants, a tarot reader, figure drawing, contests, metal wire demos, food, drinks, and more.
- 2012 ART@TheMix, The Mix, Tacoma, WA – Hosted once a month which includes live art, free figure drawing session, contests, and unique features such as body painting or tarot readings.
- Brands on paintings (brandsandfilms.com)
- Want a Warhol for your wall? Go to Costco (pri.org)
- The Art of Soup: Celebrating 50 Years of Andy Warhol and Campbellâs Soup (abullseyeview.com)
- Andy Warhol’s great secret (salon.com)
- Classic Art: BMW Art Cars (motortrend.com)
- Vote for “Julian Pena (Tacoma/www.julianpena.com)” for “Best Artist” 2013 (reply2julian.wordpress.com)
- Andy Warhol’s “Flowers for Tacoma” Comes to Tacoma Art Museum (seattle.cbslocal.com)
- Want a better idea of college costs? Schools, Congress are trying to help (kansascity.com)
- Andy Warhol’s Flowers for Tacoma (seattleweekly.com)
- ‘Andy Warhol’s Flowers for Tacoma’ coming to Tacoma Art Museum (oregonlive.com)
- Goodwill opening boutique in Tacoma’s Proctor District (thenewstribune.com)
- Eccentricity: The Realm Between the Normal and the Crazy (reply2julian.wordpress.com)
- The Historical Impression of Ukiyo-E: How It Transformed the Floating World, Impacted the Western Civilization, and Influenced Modern Society (reply2julian.wordpress.com)
- Hokusai Manga (coolhunting.com)
- Andy Warhol Chronology (presurfer.blogspot.com)
- Yes We Can: The Warhol Tacoma Dome! (slog.thestranger.com)