Artist Interview: Jerome Lu




Illustrator and designer Jerome Lu was born in Mountain View and raised in the Bay Area. He founded Hyperactive Monkey, a collectible toy, apparel and entertainment company, where he serves as lead creative artist. His creations are inspired by his love of cartoons, comics, toys, video games, and movies of the 80’s.


I think you’re one of the busiest guys in the art world. How do you stay so motivated?

Awww you noticed that I’m always busy. It’s true I’m always trying to juggle work life, art life, and changing diapers all at the same time. For me I’m a pretty happy go lucky guy because I enjoy what I do whether it’s doing work for a client or for myself. It’s pretty cool I get do draw and design cute things for a living. Also if I don’t really feel an art project is a fit for me I usually turn it down. As for motivation, I always try to think of what Soso would like. Like if she sawing this drawing or toy would she stop and laugh and giggle at it and have fun. That’s pretty much been my motto for all of my art. I just want people to stop and smile at it. :)


What would be your advice to anyone trying to make it in the toy game?

Don’t chase the money. Make a toy not because you want to make money from it, but because you love your art so much that you want to share with the world a 3Dimensional version of it that you and people can enjoy.


I love when you incorporate food into art, like your piece for California Love. Where is your favorite restaurant in California?

My favorite restaurant would have to be Taqueria San Bruno. It’s a super small restaurant that it is sandwiched between miles of auto mechanics of in the Bay Area. It’s also super hard to find parking. But they make the best grilled shrimp burritos I have ever eaten. Yum yum!

What is the secret of your awesome bento-making skills?

Try not to have an empty stomach while making fun bento food art. Many cute food critters had to be sacrificed to the lead designer (me).


When do you think Soso will be able to join the Hyperactive Monkey operations?

Soso is already head Creative Director. She really does let me know if my drawing is good or not. Most of the time she approves, but sometimes it’s a no go. She’s a tough cookie to please.


Visit Hyperactive Monkey online for more information, and buy Hyperactive Monkey art and toys here.

Artist Interview: Bored Inc.


Bored Inc. is a mother (Carol) and daughter (Courtney) design team based out of Los Angeles and San Francisco. They create super kawaii characters that are featured on an array of products and sold at stores around the globe. I’ve been a fan of their work for many years and I was happy to interview Courtney for this series.


My first encounter with Bored Inc. was your Stinky Poo plushies. This was way before the poop emoji was so popular. How did you come up with such a poo-rific character?

I was in conversation with my mom when the idea first came up – we were trying to think of an odd pairing that would make good friends and I thought of poop and toilet paper. I remember saying to her, “Would this be too gross?” It was a challenge to draw something that looked like poop but still could be posed in different ways and be made into different products. That’s why he has a little body, unlike the emoji style poop. At this point I would like to explore more sophisticated illustrations, but Stinky Poo remains one of our best selling characters. It is fascinating to me the range of people who connect with him!


Does working as a mother/daughter team have its ups and downs as one would expect?

I started working professionally with my mom while I was still in high school, and we’ve been collaborating ever since. When I was younger, I think family dynamics were more challenging – especially when you live and work together – but over the years it’s been nice to see it evolve. I now live in San Francisco, and my mom lives in Los Angeles, so it’s a good way for us to be creative together even though our lives have taken separate paths. We bring different strengths to the table, and I think that’s what makes it productive after all these years.


I love how my favorite artists have ventured into the pin game. Do you think this trend will go on for a while?

Pins are so fun to make! I hope that they have staying power, though I worry the market is oversaturated. The cost of entry into pin-making is pretty low, which makes it a great starting point for so many talented artists. I do wish there was a healthier option for the pin-making process though, and one that was better for the environment.


How do you balance art exhibitions vs. creating art for your business?

I am a stay-at-home mom, which makes this tough for me. I really love being included in exhibitions, and the inspiration of the show themes (and deadlines) push me to actually sit down and make something. In an ideal world I would nurture both sides more independently, but to be honest it’s really hard to find time (and energy) to be creative when you have a toddler, so there ends up being some crossover between the art I make for shows and the art for Bored Inc. products.


What’s next for Bored Inc.?

I wish I had better grasp on this! Like many others, I have felt gutted over the political and social climate of the past year. This – paired with with the responsibility I feel raising a daughter – has nudged me to evaluate how I spend my time and energy and to really consider what I want to be working on.


I love making cute stuff for Bored Inc. and so deeply appreciate the people who’ve supported me over the years. I’ll keep making cute stuff, but I’d like to foray into some different things too, more influenced by my feminist ideals, and the desire to create art that can be empowering on a deeper level. Stay tuned, I have ambitious ideas in the works!


Bored Inc. products are available online and select retailers like Leanna Lin’s Wonderland.