It’s not often, but there are the rare, clandestine moments where two things merge in such a natural way that you wonder to yourself how you could have ever seen them separately. Whether it be an artist collaboration, two musicians working on a duet, or unexpected partnerships, some things, once they’re together, you know are going to work.

The 2018 Dew Tour Long Beach event is just days away. Each year, the team at Dew Tour partners with an artist to manifest a creative vision and direction for the event. It’s a way to bring culture and competition together; to support the artistic community, and breathe some freshness into each year’s summer and winter events.

Pelletier in his element. Photo: Courtesy of Dew Tour

This year, the featured artist for the Dew Tour creative is Luke Pelletier. Pelletier is only 25, but you wouldn’t know that based on his body of work, or list of collaborators and partners. Growing up in a tourist town in western North Carolina heavily influenced Pelletier’s work, which explores the push-and-pull that exists between a culture that simultaneously allows itself to be taken advantage of, and to take advantage of those that exist within it.

His partnership with Dew Tour, from what we’ve seen so far, is nothing short of inspired. His free-wheeling, colorful, orchestrated world of characters with a dark undercurrent runs parallel to the Dew Tour; a universe of its own, brought to fruition biannually with its own cast of characters, a world in and of itself, open to the public.

We’ve seen the samples of merchandise, we’ve seen glimpses of the creative, and we’re counting down the hours until we can see it in person. We chatted with Pelletier in anticipation of this year’s event: Here’s a glimpse into what the partnership has been like so far, how Pelletier got started in his career, and what’s next for the artist.

Dew Tour's team works to give artists a platform; to bring creators, culture-shapers, together for their competition. How has it been working with them?

They've been really awesome to work with. We've done a lot of back and forth. So it's really been a joint effort working on the creative for this event. I can't wait to see how it comes out.

A sampling of the Pelletier x Dew Tour merch, available for purchase at the event. Photo: Courtesy of Dew Tour

What is it like working with a major event like Dew Tour? It’s a pretty large-scale endeavor.

Honestly, it hasn't changed the way I work that much. Going into it, Scott Seiver, the art director for the event, told me that he wanted to work with me because he liked what I was already doing. So a lot of the creative for the event has been based on the visual vocabulary I've built up over the years. We've spent a lot of hours on the phone coming up with concepts and figuring out what elements from my art would be good for an event like this. If anything, it's really exciting for me to see my work used for a major event that will be fully immersive. I love stuff like that.

Pelletier with his signature cast of characters. Photo: Courtesy of Dew Tour

What are your takeaways from the experience so far?

It's just great to see my work being used in new ways. I've always wanted to work on the creative for a big event like this. So it's been a lot of fun.

From drawing board to t-shirt. Photo: Courtesy of Dew Tour

Jumping back in time to your origins, what started your path to becoming an artist?

I've always made art, but I started taking it a little more seriously once I started designing shirts and flyers for my band. As I got better at it, I started designing stuff for other bands. And that was really the start of my interest in art. After high school, I went to college at SAIC in Chicago. That's where I developed my style and started to show my work in a gallery setting. That was pretty much it. I got hooked on it.

When did you realize you could make a living doing this?

It was only a few years ago that I really started making a living doing it. I'd sell a painting here and there, do some graphics for a clothing company, do some album art for a band, or whatever. It just sort of crept up on me. Now I do it full time. It's been a lot of fun.

How do you feel about social media's influence on your work? I know that personally and professionally, for me at least, it invites a sense of comparison and homogenization, but the flip side of that is that it also fosters community and creative expression like no method of communication before it. How do you utilize it?

Social media has been great. I try to focus on the community aspects of social media for sure. I've curated a few shows in the past, and a lot of the artists I put in the shows were found on some sort of social media platform. Over the years, I've gotten to meet them in person and work on projects together. I've met some of my best friends and favorite artists through it. And it's always rad to check in on what they're working on.

Heavily influenced by tourism culture, Pelletier’s work dances between nostalgia and fantasy. Photo: Courtesy of Dew Tour

Your work centers in on the playful-on-the-surface, yet slightly dark at the core, sort of manufactured world you've created for your characters. You've got a pretty unique world view, and the feeling your work evokes is one of hope tinged with wariness – like, this world looks perfect on the surface, all retro and happy-go-lucky colors and characters, but the closer you look, the more slightly twisted details that begin to emerge. Nostalgia with a twist, maybe. Do you think this stems directly from growing up in a tourist economy?

That definitely had a huge influence on my work. Growing up in a seasonal tourist economy, the whole town gets crazy busy in the summer and then it just dies out in the winter. That duality has always been interesting to me. The flea market is also open in the summer. So that's something that's had a huge impact on my work as well. I love the people, the vintage objects, and just the whole vibe of places like that. I go every weekend when I'm in North Carolina.

What's next for you beyond the Dew Tour Long Beach event?

I'm working on building up a new body of work to show. And I'm always working on music.

You can check out the merch collab betwen Luke Pelletier, and more of his work, at the Dew Tour event this week. Find the full schedule here.

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