Julian Peña (°1985, Okinawa, Japan) is a visual artist and studied at the University of Washington School of Art. He first realized he is an artist when he often times escaped the realities of life by drawing anime-inspired characters and illustrating storyboards. Living in Japan during his childhood, he was bullied due to his mixed race at a private school his mother worked hard to fund. His mother often took him to a sento, a Japanese public bathhouse. The sento became the root of childhood memories that continues to influence his works. He escaped to the sento, then escaped into his drawings, and finally escaping to the United States of America with his mother to start a new life. His works are informed by values taken from what it means to be mixed race as a 1.5-generation citizen, and our almost dystopian society. He is strongly influenced by his background as a LGBTQ person of color in contemporary America.
His passion for color relationships, meticulous studio art techniques, and arresting varieties of textures dominate his work. These passions greatly concoct his many eccentric narratives he conceives from this world. Peña’s works provide commentary on the complexities of cultural assimilation. All of these elements create a utopian body of work, for anyone can escape into.
Peña is largely involved with the local art community and beyond. He has earned six scholarships, was voted best artist in South Sound Magazine’s Best of South Sound contest for two consecutive years (2012/2013), participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, produced various art-related events, and commissions. Julian Pena currently lives and works in Seattle, Washington.