Blow Out Magazine

Cover shoot for Blow Out Magazine

LUAP is on the cover of Blow Out Magazine.

Words by Maila Reeves

Photographed by Erica Bergsmeds

Read the article here


Multidisciplinary British artist Paul Robinson, professionally known as LUAP, describes his art as “dynamically fusing adventure and art through paintings and photography”, drawing from his own experiences.

His adult-size Pink Bear suit follows him up mountains, through surreal landscapes, bustling cities and remote spots in far-away places, juxtaposing them in stark contrast with his central figure The Pink Bear. Using different media and techniques, he tackles mental health, the climate and ecological emergency, and isolation, head-on.

Intrigued? So were we! Maila sits down with LUAP to find out more for us…

I’ve heard you are an adventure artist… What does this mean?
Nowadays, a lot of people create art digitally but for me, art isn’t only about taking pictures or creating them using photoshop. In contrast, I like to physically travel the world to create my work. I first got my taste for being inspired by art in this way by climbing the four highest peaks in Morocco, supporting a charity initiative for autism. I experienced such euphoria upon reaching the final peak and it was that  feeling that really helped with my depression…something I had previously suffered from. Upon my return, I  thought, maybe I can build this into my art work? Travel became a sense of well-being for more than just an escape or holiday. The pursuit of something that lifted me in every way ; the shining light in my mental health journey became travel. Previously, travel used to be an unconscious form of therapy, now it is a conscious one. Most of us almost unknowingly travel as a way to make ourselves happy, but for me it is a beautiful, meaningful, conscious decision to get away and reconnect with myself as a form of therapy.

You later climbed the Patagonia mountains carrying a bear, which became integral to your identity as an artist. Do tell us more about this…

I climbed the Patagonia mountains with a full-sized bear costume ! There are some pictures on my website where you can see the bear strapped up, all the camera gear and the bags, sometimes survival gear as well, which amounts to 20+ kg of material.


So The Pink Bear was essentially part of your survival toolkit?



What are your thoughts on digital art, the meta world and the placement of art within it ?

Like mountaineering tools, I think the digital world is yet another tool that artists have at their disposal. Modern Art has always played with digital. There are many digital artists that work in video and other media, which have always been difficult to sell, especially to institutions. I think that the digital world has opened up a new income source for artists that don’t usually sell traditional media. I think it is a good thing that digital art is adding to the artist’s toolkit. I have always gone off on different tangents experimenting with various media, like street art as a collage  exploration, to finally come back to my studio practice.


It would be remiss of me, not to ask about NFT’s! Are you going to explore them?

Actually, I am looking into it at the moment… NFTs have been going around for a year and a bit now and are still a relatively new thing. What I wouldn’t want to do is create just another jpeg photo. It has to be something else, something innovative. If the art remains static, without actually taking on that digital medium and doing something unique with it, then what is the point? At least that is my take on the matter. If Elon Musk starts travelling to space and we all move to Mars, we will not be sending Michelangelo’s David sculpture on a rocket. Maybe that is when the scene of digital artwork will come into its own as something weightless and interchangeable.


I’ve read in a previous interview that the bear symbolises transformation, truth, reality, make-believe, innocence and corruption… What exactly does The Pink Bear represent to you?

Originally, The Pink Bear to me is an old childhood memory from a happy day spent at the theme park with my family. Back when I was doing cognitive behaviour therapy and was looking for something happy to get me out of the darker times, that is when light and darkness came together and this old memory shed light into a dark place. It is like bringing that childhood innocence into the dark places of adulthood, specifically mental health.


Do you consider yourself a mental health ambassador?
My work explores mental health at its core but I wouldn’t label myself as an ambassador. I am currently working on a new series where I work together with other people and make portraits of them whilst they talk about their mental health or their interpretation of it. It is interesting hearing other people’s stories and their take on their life narrative. However, it is going to be a while before that series is finished.

Had you mentioned this new series before or is today its first official announcement?
No, never. It’s a first!

Would you describe The Pink Bear as your alter-ego?
It was when I started off, but I don’t think it is anymore. At the time, I suffered from dissociative disorder which means that when I spoke, I would disconnect within myself. I was always a shy person and from there sprung the idea to go outside dressed as The Pink Bear. The bear was this new alter-ego that allowed me to exist without having to worry about what I looked like because it wasn’t me on the exterior. Now I think that the bear has transformed and evolved into a  character that I explore different issues with. It has shifted from being something interior and intimate, to something external, as it is not a skin I put on anymore but an external character I experiment with.

I feel like the bear, your bear, also has a journey, a transformation of its own.
Totally !

What was the aspiration that came into choosing pink as its signature colour?
The bear from my childhood memory was a pink bear, but it had a smile and was completely over-the-top. As a child, features of the bear didn’t really matter, so when I designed my bear as an adult, I literally stripped that all away. My bear has eyes but no clear facial expression, which enables people to project their feelings onto the bear. A lot of the storytelling in the pictures is through body language, which to me is just that expressive.

I’m curious, do the collectors of your art share any particular characteristics or demographics ?
No, I don’t think there is. Overall, the people that collect my work are very eclectic. I think that because there is variety in price points within my work it is accessible to different collectors. I created little soft bears which have been massively popular, so even children can touch my art.

So your art is accessible for all from a price point but also visually and cerebrally, such that it can represent anything you would want it to?
100%. Everyone and anyone can collect the art rather than it being exclusive to certain demographics, which I treasure.

Walk me through your process when creating art. Do you do studies beforehand?
I usually start with photography as my jumping off point, as it is a fast and immediate way of capturing a subject. The whole portait series for example, builds on film photography shot in the studio and some shot outside. I dislike photoshop manipulation, so all my photos and landscapes are what you would see with your bare eyes and nothing manipulated. It is all about capturing something that is real even though it might not seem real. The portraits are like that as well. They are all fur in fractured mirrors, rather than a person wrapped in fur. I see the fraction lines not as a destructive act but rather as the unique pathways of someone’s life. They are lifelines running across the glass. The model is of course the main part of the image, but the bear is still there in a supportive capacity, as if I were lending my lifeline to other people to support them. Every time I start a sitting, the person starts by telling me their perspective on mental health, what it means to them, and how their story has unravelled.

How does it make you feel to see the bear’s journey and your own grow and evolve to help others?
It does make me feel good. Back at the Bond exhibition, I saw people come in sad and even tormented but leave with a big smile. They come and personally thank me for sharing my journey and my work, both models for a particular piece and/or viewers, and this really amplifies the journey I started with the bear. At the exhibition the entire room was covered in pink fur, just a big warm fuzzy hug from the bear. The bear’s embrace exudes comfort and radiance as pink is such a joyful colour. Seeing the work influence and improve people’s mood makes creation worthwhile every day. People can find something they can relate to and see that someone else has gone through a similar journey, which hopefully makes them feel less alone, supported, and reassured in their own journey.

Would you like to share a little bit more about your future portrait collection of people suffering from mental health?
It should be six months to a year until I have finished all the pieces because they are big and imposing 6x6 foot paintings. And I’m excited about this series as it will be so different to my previous paintings of the bear in landscapes and because these paintings are highly complex…I’m still in the process of figuring out how best to execute them ! What I do know is that there will be a mix of abstraction and realism which is yet another step in my journey with the bear…