Senor Tripper Dungan # Star is a major player in the Junk Town artists collective, the founder and director of the Wow Wee Zow Wee shadow puppet company, a DJ of rare exotica music, and is always working to make the good things last. If you ever meet this artist give him a high-five.
When you see artwork by Tripper Dungan # Star, you realize that this 25-year-old self-employed painter and shadow puppeteer has managed to create a reality so cartoon-like and vivid that the flavor of fruity, sugar-coated breakfast cereal fills your mouth and tickles your cavities. When I first met Tripper he was selling 3-D postcards at Alberta Street’s Last Thursday Art Walk and now he has had art shows in nearly every radical Portland business, from Leaping Lizards hair salon to a two-month-long show at Nocturnal, where almost every piece sold right off the wall.
N.E. Alberta St. is Mr. # Star’s neighborhood. He invested in a thrashed little house and fixed it up into what is known as “The Cartoon Bungalow.” To step inside is to step into a cartoon house that would freak Mickey and Minnie Mouse out and send Pee-Wee Herman into an LSD flashback. The red brick fireplace is painted to look like a red brick fireplace, wooden doors are painted to look like wooden doors with exaggerated cartoon wood grains and knots, one of the staircases has steps so narrow that you have to walk sideways to get up them, and the bedroom is beyond a rack of checker-print clothing in the closet.
I asked Tripper a couple questions and told him to make up any he wanted to ask himself. If you read closely you might be able to find the extra special questions.
How do you describe your work? What genre?
My work most easily falls into the “low brow” category, but my friend and soul twin, who created the style with me (the Professor 8000%), coined the phase TURBO REVO. Which is more of a lifestyle than it is a style. But I just call it cartoony.
Who do you think would win in a fight: a hot dog or a toothbrush?
The toothbrush unless there’s relish involved.
What are your favorite things to paint?
I like to paint landscapes because it brings me into that Zen moment, but astronauts and space come in a close second and third for the same reason.
Clearly you have watched a lot of cartoons. Do you have any favorites?
I learned to read from Calvin and Hobbes and I definitely watched a lot of Merry Melodies and the like.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Preston Blair if I have to name names, but my work is really inspired by cartoons, graffiti, life and nature.
Creamy or crunchy?
Creamy – yeah creeeaamy.
In a world of awesome, what is the most awesome?
What’s up with your shadow puppet shows? Why do you make them?
Shadow puppets are like live cartoons, except they don’t take as long to make. It’s amazing what you can do with a couple cereal boxes and a light.
Imagine an armadillo appeared on your doorstep and ordered you to make a cartoon. Would you follow orders? What would the cartoon be about?
I think if an armadillo did approach me with such a sweet deal then I think the cartoon would be about music roughly. It would probably just be craziness, a little mental vacation if you will.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I don’t know where I’d live, but I’d die trying. (That’s a joke.)