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Violet Luczak: Butter Wouldn’t Melt in His Mouth

Work / Graphic Design

Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk! Violet Luczak mixes graphic design and painting to take on the dairy industry

Inspired by experimental and avant-garde design, Chicago native Violet Luczak has turned to the material world to combine her graphic design and painting practice. “I found that at the intersection of graphic design and painting, there is a space where ideas can live and interact both on and off the screen and incorporate the history and social commentary of each discourse,” Violet tells It’s Nice That.

Currently pursuing her master’s in fine arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, she’s currently under the tutelage of designer Elliott Earls, as well as Martha Mysko and Willie Wayne Smith for the painting half of her practice. “I am the first in my family to have chosen a creative profession and I have often struggled to integrate creativity within my career,” Violet says frankly. After studying fine arts for her undergraduate degree, she started to focus more on digital illustration before taking her work to physical materials. “Having appreciated the labour-intensive, detail-oriented process of digital design, it made sense that I would enjoy creating clean, painstakingly precise paintings,” she says of her hybrid practice.

This resulted in a recent series of works titled Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk. I Herd It Through The Bovine. Feat. Big Dairy and Nestlé. A critique of the milk and dairy industry, these paintings take the language of graphic design and translate it into a series of acrylic paintings on wooden panels, each work titled with food-related idioms and phrases. From Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk to How Now Brown Cow, the series feature bright colours with images of galloping cows, thick looping lines and the eponymous spilled milk.

Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk was something her grandfather said whenever he was in a bad mood. “None of us in my family know where the saying originated, so we assume he just made it up. It’s something that has always stuck with me because of how odd and out of place it was,” Violet says.

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Violet Luczak: Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

“As seen in this series, my work utilises type and language as a key tool to convey emotions and provocative messages,” Violet explains. Some of the works, often featuring phrases from its titles, is aimed to be viewed as satirical. “Through the use of humour, soft tones and often comic visuals, my paintings create a familiar and comfortable entry point into an otherwise disturbing topic of violence, pain and injustice,” she says of the series.

“I became a vegetarian when I was ten years old after watching a video of a cow being brutalised by a group of farmers,” Violet says, adding that she has started transitioning into veganism earlier this year. “This work explores issues concerning big dairy, capitalism, nutrition and social awareness through a surrealist tradition.” The pieces were originally drafted digitally then hand transferred onto primed wooden panels. Although they look like digital prints from afar, the materiality of the paintings becomes evident upon closer inspection. “The works evolve from their original sketches as I constantly move from screen to panel. I often photograph the partially completed paintings, digitally manipulate the work, then re-transfer the changes back onto the panels,” she says.

The series is currently ongoing and Violet will participate in a group show at the Old Court House Arts Centre in Woodstock, Illinois titled Curiosities, opening in January 2020, that will also exhibit these paintings. In her humorous works that juxtaposes the innocent with the violent, Violet tries to reach into the viewer’s subconscious.

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Violet Luczak: The Milk of Humanness

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Violet Luczak: The Milk of Humanness

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Violet Luczak: How Now Brown Cow

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Violet Luczak: How Now Brown Cow

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Violet Luczak: Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk

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Violet Luczak: Your Ass Sucks Buttermilk

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Violet Luczak: Milk It For All It’s Worth

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Violet Luczak: Milk + Money

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Violet Luczak: Moo