Artist Feature: Patrick Lugo

Who are you and what do you do

My name is Patrick Lugo, sometimes Patricky, or PLUGO. My job title says “Senior Designer” for T.C. Media Int’l publisher of Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine, but I’m often introduced as their Art Director; I’m the closest thing they have to one. When I’m not earning that pay-check I’ll pick up gigs as either a free-lance designer (lately for the musicians I know) or an illustrator via my website PLUGOarts

I also play artist, entertaining myself (and onlookers) with sketches or doodles which reflect my day dreams. A larger chunk of that artistic playtime time has been spent cultivating the larger endeavor I’ve undertaken with my significant other, we call it the Imandala

I also have this habit of lending comics to people I know, should I call them graphic novels? Some of them can be pretty obscure, but if they are willing to read them I can usually find something interesting for them to borrow.

Where do your ideas come from and what is your creative process?

I have a distinct memory of one of my design teachers,  Mr. Fox (great name) referring to my creative process as the “lightning bolt” approach. I had explained that I waited around for an idea that I thought I liked, to pop up and I would then draw it down and find a way to apply it. This explanation didn’t help his class on thumbnail sketches and, upon reflection, wasn’t quite true. I find that I’ve made a habit of being continually immersed in a sort of river of ideas and images. Working for a magazine keeps a steady flow of such images in front of me, added to that I’m a voracious reader (of comics especially) plus the internet, movies and socializing with as many creative people as I can find.

For me it’s this constant flow of imagery and ideas that allow me to bridge a given creative challenge with a solution of some sort. Or at the very least, the beginning of one.  From there I’ll jot them down on paper or in the sketchbook I habitually keep near by. From this point I’ll expand upon the sketches, working closer to actual size, at some point I’ll scan these sketches and refine, resize and either begin work on the digital version or create printouts that can be used as an underlay for drawing the final piece. My latest project resulted in my re-discovery of some methods I had left behind in pursuit of digital equivalents. Lately I’ve found myself video recording my drawing sessions. The resulting time-lapse photography generates interesting results and in some cases has helped me meet deadlines by allowing me the chance to identify points of inefficiency. Do I really need to spend that much time on those blades of grass on page thirteen?

What have been your favorite project(s) to date?

A couple of years ago I had the chance to illustrate a couple of 12” singles, for the Electronic Music duo The Detroit Grand Pubahs. Creating some album art had been a dream I considered obsolete in the age of CD’s and digital downloads. Sure, I had designed a few CD covers and there’s fun to be had when doing so, but there was always something special about providing art for an album cover; and that spinning label as well.


Since then, however, I’ve completed illustrating my first story-book. The project came to me via my work at Kung Fu Magazine, and after some six months of development I began work on Little Monk and the Mantis on January 2011. The illustrations for this book were created over a series of marathon sessions. Thirteen of the fifteen illustrations, each one a double page spread, were worked on simultaneously.

I had mounted each of the thirteen sheets of watercolor board onto a piece of plexiglass using the underlay method described. I would switch between the various pages, using a light-box to reveal the underlay as I worked my way through the stack boards. Once a page got saturated with water I could set it aside, working on a different illustration which used the same or a similar color palette. Once the pieces were complete, I then pulled them off the glass, scanned them and brought in a digital layer of art, correcting mistakes, enhancing some colors or adding effects. I’ve got four time-lapse movies of these marathon sessions which I used to make each session more productive. Later in the year, a compressed version of this process was used to generated additional pages for the book.

It’s now available for Pre-order on The author John Fusco and I also have a Facebook Page where we’re expanding on the book with some of the development art, the time-lapse videos I mentioned and some interesting insights and back-story. If the book is well received by the public there’s room for a follow-up book, or even a series. Hopefully it will be, If you know some kids, or parents with kids who have started taking Karate lessons, or Tae Kwon Do, or Wushu or Kung Fu; then this book is for them.

What challenges have you found?

This interview’s a challange, This sort of circumspection can be a sort of rabbit hole that leads to statements like; “The innate tyranny of a capitolist society is a challange for all creative individuals.”  Slightly more seriously (or less), I think harnessing one’s artisitic drive for a career is a much greater challange than I was lead to believe back in school. A formal education in art was a great thing, I learned so much on so many levels, yet art is mecurical and like the element [mercury] it can be toxic if dealt with carelessly. I love the image of the Mad Hatter as someone who’s lost his head making a career in the arts.

On the one hand I know a handful of career artists; graphic designers, photographers and illustrators who I admire greatly. On the other hand are those amazing artists who happen to have mundane day jobs. Another of my art teachers would call them civilians or civilian jobs. I oscillate between taking pride being a career artist who’s career has taken a few unimaginable twists, turns and loops and wishing for a sort of idealized day job which left me with more creative energy to paint or draw on weekends and evenings. I suppose my on-going challenge is to balance the demands of a high-octane job which requires plenty of creative out-put  with the drive to use that same energy to pursue more personal but perhaps less lucrative visions.

What are you working on at present?

At present my primary focus is promoting the story-book I mentioned earlier. The “Little Monk and the Mantis” facebook page has allowed me to review my creative process in a very concrete manner. It also has me reaching out to bloggers, and podcasters with either the goal of talking about the book or getting into the processes behind the creation of art.

Art as a process, or an experience, rather than art as an object, is something of ongoing interest. The Imandala projects allows deep exploration in that field and I’m curently contemplating how that project can be more effectively gamified. There’s also a short comic story I’m working on, it’s a means of applying what I learned while illustrating “Little Monk and the Mantis” towards becoming a more efficent illustrator. I want to draw more, faster while still promoting the project I just finished.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I’m torn between shouting out “Sombody, hire me to draw stuff!” and saying something vaguely socially responsible. Spend more time in nature. Be kind to animals. Have fun, the world could use a lot more serious fun.


Please check out this time lapse video of the most recent Imandala Painting


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