Stellar Leuna is a Sydney-based illustrator, who also plays bass for the doom/sludge outfit, Potion.
STELLAR: "I don't like listening to anything too fast while drawing as i find it really distracting."
[interview.aldy / pics.chris loufty & mel / Jan 2019]
What comics do you grew up with? And what comics / graphic novel do you read nowadays? And tell us a few artists / illustrators that help shaped you as an illustrator now?
When I was really, really young my dad would read me and my sisters comics as bedtime stories. There’s a popular Hong Kong manhua from the early 1960’s called ‘Old Master Q’ by Alfonso Wong. It was an ongoing series about a sleazy old man and his two best friends and each comic strip was about something social or political. It got pretty surreal and supernatural at times as well and was really, really funny. The comic has no dialogue so my dad would make up what the characters said while commentating their actions and making fun of them. It was a pretty unconventional way to put kids to sleep now that I look back on it but I feel like it was definitely my first ever exposure to comics and something I look back on fondly. My mum was really obsessed with TinTin when she was younger as well and would always take us to the library to read them.
Nowadays I still love indie comics. The obvious ones being anything by Adrian Tomine, Daniel Clowes and the Hernandez Bros and the inevitable Charles Burns. I was introduced to David Lapham’s ‘Stray Bullets’ by a couple of people because they mentioned my work reminded them of his, so I recently started reading the first volume and am loving it so far. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover his work.
Besides comic book artists I also love all of the Romanticist and Pre-Raphaelite painters. Other hugely influential artists for me are Tara McPherson, Raymond Pettibon, Francisco Goya.
You make comic strips too. Any plans at making a full graphic novel / comic?
It’s always been the grand plan to create a comic universe but of course building that world takes a lot of time and isn’t something I can really discuss yet as it’s not solid.
Tell us your 5 fav album covers! And how many album covers have you done?
Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’ by Raymond Pettibon
Melvins ‘Houdini’ by Frank Kozik
Coven’s ‘Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls’
Sleep’s ‘Dopesmoker’ by Arik Roper
The Sisters of Mercy’s ‘Floodland’
I like mostly illustrative artworks or anything with a surreal or unusual, dark atmosphere. I’ve personally not done that many album covers. I think off the top of my head I’ve maybe done about 5? I can’t remember to be honest haha.
Do you also did all the illustrations and artwork in your band Potion releases? Or is it a collaborative thing with your bandmates and friends?
It’s always a collaborative effort for the most part. We get the front image drawn by an artist we really like then Lee designs the layouts. The artwork for the ‘Women of the Wand’ EP cassette was done by our friend Ben Baker, then we are rereleasing both our EP’s on vinyl and we got our friend Murdoch Stafford to draw the front cover artwork for that one. I have yet to actually do any artwork for POTION as I always wanted to commission other artists to do it out of the enjoyment of seeing the process from start to finish from the other side for once.
Let's talk a bit about your band, Potion. For the gearheads: Tell us a bit of your rigs for shows / recording..
I used to combine an OCD and Hoof pedals but replaced them both with a Voltthrower recently which sounds just like the previous two but even heavier and better. I like not having too many effects/pedals just for ease of transport/setup and just feel like it’s kind of unnecessary to complicate shit when one pedal does the job for me. As for my rig I currently use a Hartke LH1000 amp and Orange cab. Looking to upgrade to an Orange amp eventually but for now I’m pretty content.
What are Potion's future plans?
As I mentioned before we are releasing our first two EP’s for the first time on vinyl this month, then we are gonna write and record an album in between just our regular shows. We’re touring with Phil Anselmo and the Illegals in March with King Parrot and Palm which we’re all very excited about.
What kind of music phases have you gotten into in the past? What do you listen to nowadays?
I’ve always listened to a bit of everything really. I still listening to a lot of 70’s punk and 80’s goth stuff. I still love 90’s metal. I'm revisiting a lot of bands and discovering ones I overlooked recently as well, such as the Wipers. I never really paid much attention to them then heard ‘Youth of America’ on a playlist I found on Spotify and have become pretty obsessed.
I've heard that you and your bandmates are film-buffs and horror fans. Tell us some of your favourites!
Yeah definitely. We love horror, old and new. My favourites are The Exorcist, Halloween, Suspiria, The VVitch, to name a few. Even the weirder, satirical and humorous stuff like 'Ginger Snaps'… I like all horror mostly. I saw the new ‘Suspiria’ which was amazing. Bar the cheesy arthouse visuals and Thom Yorke vocals during the soundtrack to the ending, I really loved it.
So what's the best music to draw with?
Bolt Thrower, Crowbar and Deftones. Anything that is super heavy, slow and catchy. I don’t like listening to anything too fast while drawing as I find it really distracting.
Any shout outs to illustrators that don't get much credits?
From Sydney I’m definitely going to say my friend Chris Yee. He’s super talented and his work is playful and loose and he’s been one of my favourite artists for years. As I mentioned before, a POTION favourite is Murdoch Stafford from Brisbane, QLD. He did a shirt design and album cover design for us. We love his Conan influenced fantasy themed work and his linework is really good. As for indonesian artists I really like Riandy Karuniawan. He did the album artwork for Marijannah’s album.
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