1. who are you, name and place of origin.
As people, I am Ed Choi from best city in the world Los Angeles, and Ron Shawler was born in South Korea. As a brand, we are someone who saw a disconnect in the art world specifically how the art world seems to be stuck in the early 1900s. There was no representation of actual 21st century “contemporary artwork”, which let’s be real, includes graffiti and what snobs consider “street art”. In addition to seeing how the fashion industry was starting to be overtaken by influencers who have no artistic creativity like Virgil Abloh who has to be driven by hype and by stealing other brand’s designs and culture.
We pride ourselves in coming from the gutter and the streets, but it’s time that our culture deserves the respect and platform and recognition that it deserves.
2. where is store located and what does this Gallery/store do?
The Ewkuks Flagship is located here on the world-renowned Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles. Thinking of art as something you just hang on your walls or in museums is outdated. Clothing has become just as much of a statement for who you are, so we thought it was natural that two should be blended. Here at Ewkuks, we dress you and your walls so you can feel fresh in and out of your home.
3. How did you two meet and what sparked the idea of opening ewkuks?
We met at this shit corporate job… the kind that slowly kills you from the inside. So naturally, we would just get ridiculously high after work and what started out as complaining about how much we hated our job, quickly led to dreaming of what we could do instead.
4. where did the name come from?, and how do you pronounce it properly?
EWKUKs… is an acronym for Everyone Who Knows Us KnowS… The idea stemming from not knowing the identity of graffiti writers unless you know them-know them. We took that ideology to the brand because it’s about being true to yourself because the people who know you, get you. And the pronunciation is a play on that, so we wanted people to question how the pronunciation is. You can pronounce it however you want… but I will say that most people say “you-cooks”, we pronounce it “you-kicks”. Do you tho.
5. What was your first year like for the gallery?, and who was in it the first year?
Like every business, our first year was a big learning year. We had a sold out show out of the gate. And then our second show was a student show with elementary school kids from LAUSD through the LACER afterschool programs to show kids what a creative path can lead to when they grow up. Our first year, the shows lasted a couple of months vs the regularly monthly changeovers we do now. That first year included Dytch66, MDMN, Morley, Plastic Jesus, Crete, and Sand.
6. You guys are in a trendy Hollywood area, who is the biggest celebrity that has bought things from the shop?
Everyone who has ever supported us is a celebrity to us. We don’t really care about famous people enough to know who’s the most famous, but some “celebrities” you may recognize are… Amanda Cerny, Lil Skies, Action Bronson, NBA YoungBoy came in regularly, Julia Roberts came in when we first opened, OhNo, a few Lakers, a few Kings, Awkwafina, Drea de Matteo, Jo Koy, and if you care… Kylie Jenner and Jordyn Woods.
7. How did the pandemic affect the Gallery?
It’s been rough… still is. We had to shut down for a part of 2020 along with the rest of the world, which is hard when you have to keep paying rent while you’re closed… in Hollywood. And with tourism industry down, we are still trying to recover but we have faith that we will bounce back… for the culture.
8. How did the riots affect the Gallery? How did it affect the block and what measures did you take to secure your baby!
What a crazy day that was! What started as a day to show support and allyship ended with me (Ed) standing in front of the shop unarmed, stopping 6 different attempts of people trying to break in… as police shot flash bangs and tear gas down the street. We “lucked out” because we just happened to be there when the riots broke out. We did our best to defend the block and our neighbors’ shops as much as we could but shit got crazy. Our friends and family were pleading with us to leave, but we couldn’t abandon all the artwork we had in the gallery, especially since artwork is irreplaceable and we couldn’t allow them to get stolen or destroyed. Our clothing could be replaced, artwork is a one of a kind. So we stayed and defended the art. And we definitely still feel the effects of that day… Some of our neighbors, like Flight Club still have not reopened since then because of how devastating it was.
9. You have been doing many cause related shows lately, tell us how they are different from the normal "artist show" and which ones stick out as being important to you.
It felt fake to not address what was happening in the world and keep going on with “normal” shows as if we were ignoring these communities that were fighting to be treated like a human being. Especially since we started this business on the idea that representation matters, it felt fake to not stick up for those fighting for it. Regardless of what communities we personally belong to, we all deserve the same level of respect, freedom, and happiness… and that’s something we will always hold in high regard.
10. we notice there are really good sponsors for your art shows, my favorite is the whiskey but which ones stand out for you guys?
We noticed… when you asked for a 2nd bottle. Haha jk. We are grateful for all of our sponsors – our mainstay sponsors, LoopColors who provide us paint to get the murals for each show done for the artists, Alpha6Corporation who sponsors paint to our artists for the shows, and the AntidoteLA who we partner with to give many of our shows a second viewing at their location on Melrose. And we are equally thankful to our other sponsors for any of our shows… but we agree that whiskey is good.
11. what kind of problems are the biggest when it comes to throwing a show?
The toughest part for us is that we are open daily with retail hours, so changeovers are always a crunch, because unlike traditional galleries, we don’t have the luxury of being closed for days leading up to a new show – we have to do it overnight. So we are usually running on a few hours of sleep for the couple days leading up to an opening.
12. tell us how you do the marketing for a show, like the video stuff and social media , is there some campaigns that were better than others ? and what made the difference?
We aren’t just spectators of art – art kept us out of trouble growing up essentially saving our lives. So we always want to make sure that we are supporting the art community as much as possible through utilizing our own creative skillsets. And since the art we show is a visual medium, we try to bring marketing that complements that visual aspect through photography and video. When an artist shows with Ewkuks, it’s a true partnership and we make sure we bring work to the table that will promote the show.
13. Tell us about the clothing line you started with the same name, what are the goals for that?
The brand has always included the clothing line because we felt like most of the clothing out there was not designed with people like us in mind. Our culture needed more representation not only in the art space, but in the fashion space as well. When we say “our”, we mean the people who do not fit into the J.Crew or Armani Exchange demographic – those of us who are too creative and unique to be put into boxes. Ewkuks is for all of us who take pride in being different and unique. Style is depicted through more than just your attire. We like to think we dress you and your walls. And we want to keep going till Ewkuks is a household name.
14. what is a top seller in your store?
A couple years back we adapted the School House Rock “Bill” into a can and named him “Art”. We did a whole collection of him spray painting our logo, another shirt where he was getting handcuffed (which I ironically got arrested filming graffiti in before), and another shirt with Art and his spray can homies. It did so well, that it has actually been copied by others.
15. If you did not start this gallery what do you think you would be doing instead in 2021?
Sounds like a multiverse timeline we don’t want to think about. We like to think that in all the timelines, all roads lead to Ewkuks eventually.
16. what are some of the shows you have planned for the future?
We hate these types of answers but…. I guess you’ll have to follow us to find out.
17. How do you find the artists for the shows you put on?
In the beginning, we just cold call reached out to artists with our fingers crossed, but we are lucky that our networking has allowed us to build a solid rapport with the community to work with.
18. Do either of you collect art ? If so what is your prized possession?
For me personally, I have a portrait of my youngest pitbull, Colt when he was like 4 months old that our talented artist friend, The Obanoth gifted me. That one brings me joy.
19. tell us about your dogs. Because dogs are dope and should be talked about more in life.
We have 2 shop pitbulls – Dexter and Colt. One is named after a serial killer and one with the “blue” fur is named after that 90s movie The Three Ninjas. Bonus points to those who get the references.
20. remind us where to find you on social media and store location and anything you want the reader to know about the shop.
We are IG/YouTube/FB/TikTok as @ewkuks and find us on 527 N Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles.
Comments will be approved before showing up.