The Story of Persue & BunnyKitty

Written by T.K. Mills

 Check out the Dream State Bundle Collection Here!

On Thursday April 18th, collectors will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the BunnyKitty lore with the limited edition Dream State Bundle” Art Toy Drop, a collaborative project between BunnyKitty creator Persue and premium collectible toy producer Superplastic.

BunnyKitty by Persue & Superplastic

The Dream State Bundle features new limited figurines from the growing BunnyKitty universe; the eponymous BunnyKitty, a magical feline hero in search of her family across a mystical and surreal cityscape; and the Bunny Keeper, the antagonistic wizard who enslaves bunnies with wicked mind control powers. Inspired by the second book in the series, ‘BunnyKitty in the City,’ these 8-inch characters come to life in vivid color, mixing psychedelic shades and vibrant fluorescent pigments.

The artist, much like his art, has a story. Creator Persue (pronounced ‘per-SWAY’) has had a journey filled with twists and turns throughout his creative career – emerging from San Diego’s underground graffiti scene, to working alongside mainstream skateboard brands, to eventually developing his own unique character.

Raised in California, Persue has New York roots. His dad was a streetwise kid from the Bronx, while his mom grew up in the affluence of Westchester. Much like Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl,’ it was an unlikely pairing. A child of the 80s, Persue’s first introduction to graff came from movies like Beat Street and Style Wars, but his own passion for painting came from friends.

“I was young, in a part of San Diego that was – it was suburban bubble. I was introduced to skateboarding and BMX, and graffiti re-introduced itself to me in 1988. A Filipino classmate – I didn’t know him at first, but I hung out with a lot of Filipino cats – and he had a blackbook, and it was just filled with masterpieces. I was intrigued. I had been dubbed an artist by mom, but it seemed boring until I saw what you could do. He’s the one who gave me the name Persue.”

In the 80s, skateboarding and graffiti were deeply intertwined. Persue was enthralled with the rebellion and freedom skating offered, but his mom wouldn’t permit him. “I had to stash my board in a friend’s garage,” he joked. “Every time I came home with a bruise or road rash, I would tell her I fell off my bike.”

A few years later, after he had established himself as a local writer, he was beginning to pierce the bubble. For Persue, writing and skating was a positive alternative to the gang scene, a sub-culture that ran parallel to graffiti. By chance, while painting a skate shop, the owner brought up the idea of having some of his design printed on a t-shirt.

The opportunity to get paid for his art was an enticing idea. At the time he was working at Subway, and so on a napkin he drew a mock-up design of a b-boy graphic for 8-Ball. The T-shirt sold well, and led to the company ordering more designs, which in turn led to a broader audience discovering his work.

In the early 90s, only a handful of writers were bridging the gap between getting up and getting paid. Eventually Persue got hired, and started working in the skateboard fashion industry. Drawers, Dub, DC, Osiris, Circa, all became names on his resume over the years.

“It was a really great situation where I could be a writer by night and an art director by day… I was one player of many in that world, but it’s cool to look back and see the influence that I had.”

While his esteem and portfolio grew, Persue never seriously considered an art career amidst the white-walled galleries. “Writing, painting graffiti, was always something I loved. However, I grew up in the era where the mantra was, ‘No Sellouts.’ I steered clear.”

Though as the industry shifted, one day he found himself without a job. “I didn’t know my worth. When shit hit the fan, and things dried up in 2010, I had to start again. A [colleague] told me, ‘you know, at least you can fall back on yourself.’ I was thinking about that, because I’d always had a job. I had a house, cars, a family. But I was also at a point where I was exhausted working under someone else. But thankfully I had planted the seeds with BunnyKitty in 2001.”

BunnyKitty came out of a love for branding. Persue had helped build some of the biggest names in the skateboarding industry but took a different route when it came to his own. “I was inspired by Jim Henson, (creator of the Muppets) and these artists who created their own universes. I liked what some of the ladies in graffiti were doing, like Miss Van and Fafi, and I took that approach, and started painting BunnyKitty next to my street pieces.”

Knowing the key to a successful character is the lore, he worked with his mother to write the first BunnyKitty book. “She wrote the magic spell,” the artist said. Though Persue invested some time and energy intto creating the concept, for the most part it just sat on his desktop until 2010 when he lost his job. Feeling lost, starting over at the age of 40-something, he moved to New York to reinvent himself.

“Searching for inspiration, I loved the energy of New York. I love the hustle. I’ve always been producing, I’m always working.”

New York was the solution, in more ways than one. While living in the five boroughs, he wrote the second in the expanding narrative of his art – BunnyKitty in the City.

“The first book I wrote with my mom was just to set-up the character, of why this cat wears a bunny suit. What’s her calling, what’s her job, what does she teach readers? The first book is about solidarity, rising to the occasion and being tested. Finding yourself. That book was the foundation.”

With BunnyKitty there’s cast of 28 characters, a vast and growing IP. “There’s someone for everyone to relate to,” Persue said. “What I really set out to do was create a Sesame Street, with a more genuine street aesthetic.” As the lore grew, it showcased some of the bullies & antagonists – in particular, the Bunny Keeper.

“I’ve lived the life of BunnyKitty in a sense… life imitating art. The characters are connected to friends, family… adversaries, in my life. It’s a story book meant for families that people can connect to.”

Working within the collectible toy world is the next evolution of the BunnyKitty story. Persue had been part of the Series 1 drop with KidRobot back in the day, though “many people don’t realize that, as it was very rare.” Watching how artists in that space like Tristan Eaton were able to grow their brands, Persue was inspired.

During the pandemic, Persue linked up with Superplastic, and after floating the idea around to do a drop together what got the artist fired up was when Superplastic pitched the idea of incorporating the Bunny Keeper in the drop. Though the character has been around for years, featuring in his drawings, the Bunny Keeper has only come to public forefront in the past 2 years, and Persue is eager for more to learn about the villain of the story.

“They made it really enticing. Superplastic’s quality is really great. Their animation is fresh. I dig what they did with the Gorillaz. For them to ask me to be part of the roster, and to acknowledge my history in graffiti, and my accomplishments with Skateboarding, and what I’ve built with BunnyKitty, it’s really a proud moment.

You can add BunnyKitty and Bunny Keeper to your collection on April 18th, at 2pm.

T.K. Mills is the Editor-in-Chief of UP Magazine, a street art publication based in New York City. After receiving a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs, he discovered a love for graffiti while backpacking through Cuba and pursued life as a writer. Outside of UP,  T.K. enjoys writing poetry, personal travel essays, and occasionally short stories. His work has been published in The Smart SetThe Vignette ReviewGenre Urban Arts, and Eternal Remedy among others. Beyond art, T.K. loves reading and traveling.

    @t.k.m85

    tkmills85@gmail.com

    www.tkmills.com