Russ Morland hosts a new art show called Welcome to Lurklandia at his tattoo shop and gallery Electric Umbrella in the Old City Quarter.

Russ Morland hosts a new art show called Welcome to Lurklandia at his tattoo shop and gallery Electric Umbrella in the Old City Quarter.

Inside an artist’s world

NANAIMO – Russ Morland hosts his first art show of landscape paintings at Electric Umbrella

The colour of the sky in Russ Morland’s world is blue … and pink, yellow, and sometimes red.

It’s a world he dubbed Lurklandia, a place where the little monsters he creates can roam and frolic to their dark hearts’ content.

Morland was on a two-week vacation when the land for his signature characters – lurkers – began to take shape. He sketched a few mountains in the background.

“It started off as background filler and now its the main attraction,” Morland said. “It really came out of nowhere – I’m going to run with it a bit.”

He hosts his first art show of the landscape paintings at Electric Umbrella, his tattoo shop and gallery in the Old City Quarter. The show opens Saturday (Nov. 30), 8 p.m. to midnight, and remains on display until February.

His signature style is brightly coloured, fantastical characters with clever sayings, that’s been evolving over the years. His sketches have tightened up, making his art more directional.

“I wouldn’t even sketch anything – I would just paint,” Morland said. “It was really subconscious in a way.”

Although still containing subversive elements, his artwork is becoming more usuable for commercial purposes.

“It’s becoming more commercial, which is what I want it to,” Morland said. “I want to make a living off my art, which I don’t think is a bad thing to say.”

With companies like My Pakage buying designs for underwear lines, a toy company producing one of his lurker characters and further clothing design possibilities, Morland said he is realizing the goal he’s had since the age of seven. He studied art design, graphic design and fine art before a two-year tattoo apprenticeship, which he credits for introducing him to varied artistic styles. Each client was a mini-project completed from concept to design in a short time frame.

“It taught me more about art than any other courses,” Morland said.

The show on Saturday will consist of prints of his latest work. He’s keeping the originals in anticipation of art shows in the U.S. in the new year.

But he constructed a life-size Lurklandia in the gallery to help visitors get inside the artwork.

“They’re supposed to be fun and enjoyed for what they are,” Morland said.

Morland will be giving away a goodie bag of Lurk prints, stickers and pins for the best photo of guests at the show. Post the photo to Instagram, with the tag #lurklandia, and follow Morland at @thelurk1.