The Origins of BunnyKitty: An Interview With PERSUE About His New Project
Two weeks ago 12ozProphet family David ‘PERSUE’ Ross announced a unique new project that has caught some peoples attention. As many of you know, PERSUE is recognized for both his talents in graffiti and his accomplishments as a graphic designer in working for some of the most influential skate brands around. He’s also recognized for his signature character BunnyKitty, which he has painted all over the world, and just recently, channeled into a new book.
The Origins of BunnyKitty: A Tale For All Ages is a new project from PERSUE and 1XRun. Beautifully illustrated by PERSUE, the book is sure to be both a piece of art and a fantastic story. We got a chance to talk to PERSUE about BunnyKitty, his past as a writer and his plans for the future.
How did you get your start in graffiti? Did it come from being an artist as a kid, or did you develop more into an artist from your experience as a writer?
I got my start in graffiti in high school. It was 1988. I was introduced to it by a friend. This friend also gave me the name Persue. My grandmother and mom recognized the artist spirit in me when I was around 5 years old. So they helped motivate my creativity. Graffiti was just timing with what was happening on the west coast at the time. Skateboarding, post punk, cholos and the intro of hip hop had profound effects on a lot of people. I just gravitated towards graffiti and geeked out on it with like minded people. It was uncharted territory on the west coast at this time.
What was the west coast scene like back then?
The graff scene in the 80’s and 90’s was really dope. It was like the Wild West. The government didn’t know how to control the writers at the time. We were pioneering a lot of techniques and if you wanted to meet other writers you had to travel. Whether it was in your city or other cities domestically or international. There were styles that were associated with some of the bigger cities. The lines are blurred these days.
You’ve been pretty involved in skate culture and skate companies throughout your career, What are some of the things you’re most proud of?
I am probably most proud of helping a lot of people with their careers. Most of the brands I helped build at one time or another were very successful. I think that I had profound effects on people’s lives directly and indirectly with what we were producing. Of course it was a team effort but when we started DC shoes it was 4-5 people, and that was it.
How did the two worlds of skating and graffiti combine? Was there an overlap there?
I always saw the parallels between the two. Too many lifestyle similarities. I know lots of pro skaters that bombed even if it was short lived. Danny Way wrote Amo and Ken Block wrote Clown. Companies started to hire graffiti artists in the early to late 90s.
What sort of opportunities did skating and graffiti put in front of you that you wouldn’t have expected starting out?
Traveling. The skate industry made it possible for me to become an international writer. I brought styles back from Europe and helped fuse European, East Coast and West Coast styles together. I connected a lot of writers in the 90s to the west coast as well. I brought Wane and Can2 to the Bay Area to paint with Dream FC, Spie and Apex in the 90’s. I think in the end it was to help bring people together.
When did you begin to paint the BunnyKitty character? What was the inspiration?
I started developing the character in 2001. I wrote “The Origins of BunnyKitty” in 2004. The inspiration was creating a universe that I could tell stories of mine and my friends through with the characters I’ve developed. I want to turn them into life lessons. Artists like Bode’, Jim Hendon, Ralph Bashki, were some of my direct influences. I wanted BunnyKitty to be a super positive character in the story. This was really important to me. The first book is a children’s book but if things go as I envision the next chapters that I write will be for an older crowd.
Compared to your letter based work, do you enjoy working with a character more, do you find it to be more freeing?
I find both to be gratifying. But at my core when it comes to writing, letters come first.
What is the story behind your new book? What inspired you to take on this project?
The story sets up who the main character BunnyKitty is, where she comes from, and where she is going. I wanted to do something that was out of the box for me. To build a family brand and use the things I learned building skate brands towards my own goals. My mom and I worked on the first book together. It sat in my computer for 11 years until she came down with Alzheimer’s. This is when I made changes in my life to make our dream a reality. Unfortunately she passed 2 months before the release but I have decided to use BunnyKitty to help build awareness for Alzheimer’s in her memory.
The Origins of BunnyKitty takes the form of a picture book but is billed as one for all ages, what makes the book relatable to everyone?
It’s a coming of age book. The story is heart felt. It sends the message of acceptance, being brave, and rising to the occasion. When you apply that to life, everyone is faced with challenges so who couldn’t relate to finding your way?
How has the campaign been going so far, and what are some of the cool rewards you can get for donating?
The campaign is off to a strong start. I think people have been waiting for this. There are really good perks with huge early bird discounts. There are Book and Plush combos, and Book and print combos as well. A portion of the proceeds go towards Alzheimer’s awareness in my moms name, so people can get these products and feel good that they’re helping out a meaningful cause. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.
What’s next in regards to both The Origins of BunnyKitty as well as your other art, any big plans?
There are a lot of things happening right now. Art shows have been planned, a book tour is in the works, we are going to do a few pop up shows to display the hand painted pages of the book as well. I will continue to produce paintings that have nothing to do with BunnyKitty. Painting abstracts or graffiti helps to break up the monotony of painting the same character over and over.
You’ve had the opportunity to paint all over the world, what are some of your favorite places to travel and live?
I have always lived in San Diego but a year and a half ago I moved to NYC to help inspire the paintings for the book and the future story of BunnyKitty. Some of my favorite places I have been so far are Switzerland, Vietnam, and Mexico. Really, there are too many favorites. I like new adventures, food, and cool people and their stories.
Any last words or shout outs?
Big ups and my mom and grandmother that watch over me. I miss and I love you dearly.
~Persue TV, COD, 7th LETTER, NTL, SUK, 9LIVES, TRANSCENDENTAL, SBA