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5 Creative Questions with… E.L.K (a.k.a. Luke Cornish)

Stencil artist E.L.K (Luke Cornish) is familiar to me from a number of contexts. There's the Archibald, in which Luke has been a finalist in multiple years, most recently last year. I also have some stickers of his in my sticker book, such as a gas mask-wearing Jesus. And I have his voice in old recordings from my previous life as a journalist. Back then, I'm sure he told me that, as a street artist, one way he gets away with aerosol creations on walls is by wearing a hi-vis vest, then doing whatever he likes. Ironically, hi-vis makes him less obvious.

I am glad that Luke's aerosol and acrylic portraits have made their way into Australia's most rarefied art prize. It always feels like oil on canvas portraits, with all the weight of history behind them, are considered the most prestigious. We need more E.L.Ks in art's fanciest galleries. As I type this, I'm at Chatswood Library and there's an E.L.K mural painted outside of a fancy human, in fact, a classical conductor. Something tells me these days, Luke doesn't need to don the hi-vis to get away with painting on walls.

E.L.K (Luke Cornish) with a friend. Photo: supplied

E.L.K is the 22nd in my series of creatives to take five questions.

When my creative process is stuck, I reach for… distance from my arts practice. It’s taken a long time to overcome the fear of never having another good idea again that every artist feels at some point, but I’m in a place now where I can take a break and get back to it when I’m feeling energised and inspired. A healthy work-life balance is key to remaining motivated.

The weirdest thing about being a creative human is… the subtle ironies that come along with it. I have a lot of freedom in my life, I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want, but this tends to cause a craving for routine and structure.

The most unusual object in my house is… a set of sculptures from an artist named Wendy Olsen. She makes the most grotesque figures of anthropomorphic human anatomy and other objects, They're cute and disgusting at the same time. My wife hates them, but they make me happy.

I celebrate my achievements by… getting back to work as soon as possible. Another irony of being an artist is that success propagates opportunity, which realistically is just more work. You gotta strike while the irony is hot.

Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is… probably insulin, or some other life-saving drug that gets price gouged by big pharma, that I could give away for free.

Find out more about E.L.K here. His creations appear on Instagram here.

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