The justalilhype! Crew caught up with Arthur Lee, the man behind Ursus The Bear. Recently, he has been touring around Asia, spreading his brand across various cultures while representing his roots as a true Canadian artist. Through the assistance of The New Route Group, Arthur has made his mark in curating his first solo art exhibition titled “Courage X Integrity” in the capital of China, Beijing. He shared to us the concept behind this art exhibition along with detailed discussion of his latest release, which celebrates Ursus The Bear’s 2nd Anniversary and includes a full range of new products including skateboard decks, silver pendants, postcard sets, and pocket books that depicts the two years of dedication that Arthur has devoted to his brand.
Hit the jump for the interview with Arthur and more photos from the “Courage X Integrity” exhibition. Beginning on July 4th, visit the Ursus The Bear online shop for a chance to purchase the Special Edition 2nd Anniversary Box Set that has a limited production of 50 sets.
It’s good to catch up with you again. Seems like you have been very busy overseas in Asia, promoting the your brand. Recently, you have curated an exhibition titled “Courage X Integrity”. Tell us more about that.
Yup! I’ve been running around in Asia and just had my first exhibition outside of Canada. The exhibition took place in the capital of China, Beijing, and the venue was one of the galleries at the famous art district called the “798 Art Zone”. It was also the first time I am representing Canada as an artist because there aren’t too many Canadian artists who’ve installed an exhibition there yet. I felt quite good and proud of it.
What does courage and integrity mean to you? How is that connected to the brand, Ursus The Bear?
I named it that way because I think these are some of the main elements that make a great designer. To be honest, being a designer is not all about glamorous, fancy and fun as people see it. A true designer has the responsibility to stick with his point of their own view and principles, which is keeping the cool and walking down that road fearlessly. I believe in staying true to myself and believe in what I believe. It isn’t easy my friend! This world has too many people who are trying to shut others down. So if you believe in something then you got to protect it! Life is bitter, but I turn that negative aspect of life as a form of motivational in order to push myself to my limits. That’s the reason why I named the show “Courage X Integrity”. It represents myself. I present my works and spread the message across the globe.
Tell us a bit about The New Route Group, is that a collective name for your respective Hong Kong and China Ursus Crew? How did they assist you in this exhibition?
Everybody knows that there’s always a creative side and a business side behind every label. The New Route Group is my company, but it’s actually more like a management team. It manages all my clothing lines (Ursus The Bear, Beavy Industries and Woodson), the music side of me (Independent Recording Artist and Band Leader of Canadian band – B.W.U.) and the administrative bits and pieces. My team expended quite quickly, and that really impressed me. I have teammates not only in Canada but in Hong Kong and China as well. During this exhibition, I have my crew flew from Vancouver and Hong Kong to Beijing to help me pull the show together. I appreciated the hard work and effort that they put into the show, without them it would of been a lot more difficult than it was.
Throughout the exhibition, other than the display of products from Ursus The Bear, there are also specific areas that are specially designed. Tell us a bit about the Woodson Area, and how does that display your artistic side?
When I was checking out the venue few months beforehand, I already wanted to do a woodland theme to accompany the artworks that I was creating. My artworks, the skullgirls, some describe them as a bunch of beautiful women losing their souls in fashion or there’s an evil side behind every pretty face. However, all I know is that I wanted to make something dark, something woodland feel. We came up with something like evil witches bonfire with wooden sticks and lights coming out from the hut. It was totally a conceptual piece, and I was quite satisfied with the outcome. This project brought me back to my fine art roots. It allowed me to express myself in a very artistic way, which was awesome.
Also, the big piece of laminated floor mat printed with your Skull-Camo, what was the inspiration behind that?
I love camouflage! I always thought it would be cool to customize an edgy version of it. So I came up with a skull-camo. It was my natural instinct and something I wanted to do for a long time. That pattern will have different color ways and will become the signature piece of Woodson. Stay tuned for our new products!
The pop up store displayed a gallery of previous products, and also introduces new ones. What’s the latest from Ursus and tell us about the new skateboards that you have recently created.
To celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Ursus The Bear; we came out with the Special Edition T-Shirt as a box set with 8 postcards and a small Ursus The Bear history photo booklet. The box set is limited to only 50 sets. The special edition tee also comes in 3 colors, black on white, black on black and SE silver on black. They sold like pancakes at the event and we be launching it at our online store on July 4th. Don’t miss out!
It’s good to see an artist from Vancouver spreading his passion, brand and message across the globe. I am glad that the show had such a good turnout of tourists and visitors from around the world. Did the show exceed your expectations? Furthermore, through the experience of this initial exhibition, what’s further down the road?
I never did an event in China so I didn’t have any expectations. However, I was quite surprised that the event turned out well. People respected the art, and they are very interested in me as the artist of the works. They insisted to take photos with me and asked me all kinds of questions. Some people wanted me to sign their t-shirts, some even wanted to give me a hug. They were just so adorable. After this event, my team has discussed about doing the next exhibition in another country. It is still too early to say, but it will be a surprise and a giant step for the label and myself. Please stay tuned and keep on checking out our website for more upcoming news.