College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between October 12 - 19, 2015
Behind LFK: The acronym created by local printmaker and KU alumna – University Daily Kansan
Local artist and University alumna Leslie Kuluva, known on social media as “Leslie Kay” has worked in various media throughout her career, but she is best known for her screen printing: LFK.
Kuluva moved to Lawrence from Kansas City in 1999 to study art and design at the University, where she gradually developed her artistry. She was working toward a degree in textiles until she discovered printmaking and “just fell in love with it,” she said.
Kuluva would steal away to the textiles department at night to make t-shirts for her friends. Much of her work was done in her living room where she’d make prints on her coffee table and dry shirts on her couch.
The original LFK design was spurred by a road trip. Kuluva went on several road trips around the Midwest, usually traveling with friends to see a concert, and she’d make a new spray paint stencil for every trip to tag the destination. They usually said something like “Lawrence Pride” or “14th Street Pride.” LFK was inspired by the reaction Kuluva got when she told people where she was from.
“I would travel and people would say ‘Where are you from?’ and I’d say “I’m from Kansas’ and they’d be like ‘Oh… Kansas’ and then I would say ‘Lawrence, Kansas’ and their face would change,” she said. “They’d be like ‘Oh, Lawrence, Kansas! That place is really cool’…it’s just funny how Lawrence was viewed. So I made a [LFK] stencil.”
It wasn’t long before the design started to be copied. As LFK increased in popularity, Kuluva began to see bootlegged merchandise around the city.
Kuluva works with art gallery Wonder Fair and retail store Third Planet, but other business that sell LFK merchandise are doing so without her permission, though she admits that the “ripping off” of LFK is likely due to ignorance rather than intent to steal.
Today Kuluva owns and operates print shop LFK Press in East Lawrence with fellow artist Jeff Eaton. The shop allows Kuluva to do “a little bit of everything.” She’s able to continue creating original material while also filling orders for local bands and businesses. Warner Brothers Music is one of her biggest clients, and she was recently hired to create merchandise for country musician Dwight Yoakam. She also books bands for the Replay Lounge.
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