LittleCollector is so excited to announce the artist Shaun Leonardo and his print, Self-portrait Superman, now on LittleCollector. We recently talked with Shaun about his relationship with superheroes and his artwork.
LC: Your work takes on superheores and cultural icons - happy, one-dimensional figures from childhood - and explores the complexities behind those identities. Did you always feel like superheroes were conflicted figures?
Shaun: I believe even early on as a child I felt some discomfort with the heroes I admired. It was a matter of representation - a deep desire to find images of strength and valor that more closely resembled me.
LC: What is the response like from kids who view your work? I feel like they would instinctively get it.
Shaun: You are so correct. Kids have a way of naturally connecting to the work as they haven't been clouded yet by life's baggage. I've received some of the most poignant, beautiful comments from children.
LC: Your work incorporates elements of self-portraiture and performance and superheroes are likewise always "performing" for their public. Is there a mild-mannered alter ego in there somewhere?
Shaun: Hilarious. There's no doubt. I've always said that my work is both a desire to be and critique of these heroic figures. I cannot escape the fact that my work is often times a projection of who I would want to be in these fantasy worlds of mine.
LC: Your working process involves plywood cutout paintings and bright sign painting enamel, as if they're about to come to life. Do you ever spook yourself in the studio?
Shaun: All the time. For that reason I normally don't have many of my works displayed around me in my home or studio. I'm just now getting used to having a bunch of "me's" essentially looking back at me.
LC: If you could design your ultimate superhero costume, it would look like:
Shaun: Oh man... Too difficult to answer. It would definitely contain a lot of gold... And most certainly a cape. Who doesn't want a cape?!