Cerek Tunca is a self-taught multimedium artist based in Champaign, Ill. Taking influences from one of his favorite artists Alex Gray, Cerek is full of psychedelic vibes. Over our meeting on Zoom, I noticed how accurately the space around him matched his art. From the trippy tapestries to his tie-dye shirt. He focuses on primarily woodburning intricate patterns into vessels for smoking, as well as drawing, and fabric painting. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Who’s your favorite music artist right now?
Cerek: Flatbush Zombies
Q: What is your ideal night out?
Cerek: Probably camping, woods, with friends.
Q: So let’s go back to the early years. Was art embraced? How did it all begin?
Cerek: Yeah, I’ve always been a creative person and like to work with my hands. In high school, I started to organize my work, like putting it down on paper. My parents have always been supportive of my art. I study aerospace engineering. But art is where it’s at.
Q: So I know you do woodburning, how did that begin?
Cerek: I was pretty familiar with drawing and then I started to wood burn when I came to college. The opportunity just kind of presented itself. I had wood and I needed to burn it. It’s pretty therapeutic, to be honest. When I’m burning, the different woods have different smells, it’s like an incense.
Q: Can you describe your process from start to finish?
Cerek: When I’m woodburning I usually sketch it out first and try to think about what I’m trying to express, who I’m doing it for. The wood I work with has already been finished, but I actually sand it down first, and then I start to burn. I do post-processing like reoiling it to make it look nice. Lately, I’ve been skipping the sketching and going straight to burning, and seeing what comes out, trying to trust my flow.
Q: What is the most inspiring emotion for you as an artist?
Cerek: Being in awe of something and trying to express that feeling in my art and pass that feeling on.
Q: Are you judged for the smoking aspect your art surrounds?
Cerek: Before it was legal, I had to be careful. But now its all good. I might have been judged indirectly. But I’m pretty proud of making “heady” art that’s not glassblowing because it’s really expensive, you know? So I found a way to infiltrate that community.
What are your inspirations?
Cerek: I’m inspired by a lot of the music I listen to. I’d like to transition that feeling of listening to music into visual art. Easier said than done.
What are you working on recently?
Cerek: I’m painting this denim jacket *denim jacket appears in the process of being painted* and woodburning a box *box appears* Both are commissions.
Q: In the future what do you hope for your art?
Cerek: To influence people positively, it might sound generic, I don’t really care about making money with my art.