by Patricia Kaowthumrong
While Charlie An hasn’t yet acquired fame and fortune for his design endeavors, he’s received other priceless benefits.
The Denver-born Korean-American artist has designed clothing, hats, posters and jewelry for more than 10 years. An sells his work through his own company, XLUSIV, and is a full-time creative artist at Denver-based Primal Wear. He also accepts freelance design projects.
“The main reason I got into art is to impact and change the world around me,” An says. “I use whatever talents and skills I have to really improve overall experiences for anyone, whether it involves walking through a space or wearable artwork as far as clothing and jewelry.”
During his career as a professional creative artist, he’s designed graphics for big-name companies, including Google, Amazon, Coors Lights, New Belgian, Fiat, the U.S. Open, IKEA and Toyota.
An began designing logos at age 16, when he created graphics for his mother’s skincare company. In college, he planned to pursue a career in business, but realized the industry wouldn’t be an ideal outlet to express his creativity.
“I wanted to make a change and have a career that I would be happy about,” An says. “I like having a media to express myself and being able to get out what I put in.”
He gained jewelry-making skills from studying metalsmithing for two years in college and became highly interested in fashion, which motivated him to take up screen printing.
“I like accessories, earrings, pendants and things like that, so it just made sense for me to keep going down that road,” he says.
An gets inspiration for his designs from vintage artwork and posters; urban culture and sci-fi movies, including the original “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” flicks and “Alien Vs. Predator.”
“I don’t what it is about those movies but they really speak to my childhood, and that’s kind of where a lot of my design inspiration comes from — things that I’ve been influenced by,” he says. “Urban culture, hip-hop, everything that’s associated with that urban side of fashion and design are all things that I’ve been influenced by, as well as Eastern and Asian artwork.”
Many of An’s patterns and illustrations have Korean, Chinese or Japanese influences. For example, he references different kinds of clouds used in ancient or historic paintings.
“As of lately, I’ve been getting into a lot of Egyptian and African artwork,” An says. “I like how geometric everything is.”
While the hobby extremely rewarding, An says finding funding for his projects is an obstacle.
“It’s super expensive,” he says. “It’s pretty intense, but I really enjoy it.”
An is working toward having his own art show, gallery exhibit or release party. His goal is to open a store, where he can offer custom screen-printing services and showcase his artwork, accessories and clothing.
“It will have things you just can’t get anywhere else,” he says.
In his spare time, An likes to attend electronica shows and concerts, hang out with friends and work on his drift car.
See Charlie An’s work at
thexlusiv.com and follow
him on Instagram at the_xlusiv.