by Maggie Radl, Communication Specialist

T.L. Luke always wanted to be an artist. From a young age she knew “I’m going to be an artist, and there’s nothing else I want to do.” Determined to make this dream a reality, in 2018 she began pursuing art full time. Her website T.L. Luke Art houses comics, illustration prints, paintings, murals, and more.

T.L. describes her current work as “whimsically dark digital illustrations.” Darkness is frequently juxtaposed with cuteness, and heavy subjects like mental health are tempered with fantastical creatures.

Growing up in the Kettle Moraine area gave T.L. a love of nature, but she attributes her interest with sustainability to meeting Sasha Stone, owner of local zero waste shop (and Sustain Dane Member) Green Life Trading Co. which specializes in eco-friendly cleaning and body care products with zero-waste packaging. When they met, T.L. and Sasha were both starting up their businesses. T.L. would share art and branding expertise, and Sasha would share her sustainability tips.

After that, sustainability became an integral part of supply sourcing for T.L. Luke Art. She replaced plastic sleeves for prints with biodegradable cellophane, switched all packaging materials to recyclable or compostable, and now prints exclusively on FSC Certified paper. Beyond her business, she walks the talk in her personal life by reusing glass jars, reducing driving, and refusing plastics whenever possible. For T.L., all these actions are a part of a journey that’s continuously improving. “I feel like I’m still in it. I’m still like everyone else trying to change how I’ve lived for the last 30 years. There is so much more I can be doing and it’s a part of the journey.”

Sustainability has become an inspiration for T.L.’s art as well. In Winter 2020, T.L. created a scavenger hunt for the “Winter is Alive” city-wide art installation presented by the City of Madison Arts Commission, Sustain Dane, and Garver Events. She wanted to bring awareness to how climate change impacts us locally and highlight actions we can take to make a difference. She created 10 illustrations of action items and made them into 60 decals, placing them on 56 businesses across Madison. With hints given, participants were encouraged to go out and photograph all 10 for the chance to win eco-friendly prizes donated by the same small businesses.

Her next sustainability awareness project appeared on a BCycle Art Bike donated to Sustain Dane by DC Engineering. The embellished e-bikes are currently around Madison for BCycle riders to use, and are raising money and awareness for various causes in Madison. Her illustrations of holistic sustainability actions were the perfect fit for the bike.

When asked what a sustainable future looks like to her, T.L would love to see more sustainable cities in the world. She envisions a city where everyone lives within walking distance of green spaces, where we send less to landfills, and use renewable energy as a standard. Until then, she’ll be learning, taking sustainable actions, and making art that spreads awareness.

Interested in owning T.L. Luke art? Visit her site and look for her at markets in the Madison area! ❖