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LAist Interview: Casey Leveque

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Several weeks ago, LAist Editors put out a call for nominations for the coolest Angelenos under 30. We received many submissions and we are grateful. So grateful that we promise to publish a special edition of the LAist Interview, which we've named "20 Under 30," not once, but three times a week until June 29th. The 20 young people featured in the series confirm the notion that our region nurtures people with talent and initiative, regardless of their age. And we're all enriched by their presence. Sit back, enjoy, and get to know several neighbors under 30 before the 30th of June.

First up: Casey Leveque, an illustrator behind the iPod print ads.

How many twentysomethings can see their work splashed on billboards, bus shelters and wall posters all over the country? Casey Leveque, a native Angeleno, can. An artist for Rocket Studio in Santa Monica, Casey is a member of the creative team involved with Apple's eye-catching print ads featuring silhouettes of people dancing to music from their iPods.

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Age and Occupation:
28. Senior Artist/Retoucher, Rocket Studio

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?:
I was born in Culver City, and I live in Beverlywood.

Why do you live in Los Angeles?
Why would I want to live anywhere else ?

How does Los Angeles inform your work as an illustrator/retoucher?
Well, LA is very much a movie town. I used to work almost exclusively on movie posters. I retouched posters for some great movies, American Beauty, and some not so great, like Planet of the Apes. I used to love working on them because everyone sees movie posters all over the place. With most of the work, I do now in car and product advertising it is not always so widely shown. Some campaigns are big, but nothing like movie posters. That was one of the nice things about the iPod campaign that it was shown everywhere and I could tell people like my grandmother that I did it, and she then could grasp what I do all day.

How did you come to design the Apple iPod silhouette campaign?
I have worked with Apple's ad agency TBWA Chiat Day for years, and have worked on other Apple projects with the art director Susan Alinsangan. So, when this project came up I assume we were the first choice to do it.

How did you create it? What, if any, kind of software did you use?
Apple does not like us talking about how the iPod silhouette campaign was done. All I can say is there is some photography, some illustration, and alot of weekends. As far as what I used to do it, I used a PowerMac G5 with a Wacom graphic tablet, and Photoshop. It's nothing fancy.

Did you work on the animated commercials as well?
No, but if you talk to any of the older generation on my family they will say I did. For some reason they can only relate to the TV version. 99% of all my work is for print.

What influenced the design of the campaign?
That is a question that Susan would know the answer to more than me, but we tried to capture the feeling of listening to music on an iPod through what position the person was in and what details of that person you saw. You can almost hear what music they are listening to, just by seeing a still image.

What in LA inspires you?
The amount of fast food restaurants we have here. No matter what happens in my life I always have a Taco Bell or Jack in the Box to go to at any time, day or night. If life is going bad, I can always get a Mexican pizza and make myself feel better. I took that for granted for years, but we really have so many great fast food choices I really think LA is the fast food capitol of the world. I heard a rumor once that Steven Spielberg ate nothing but Taco Bell while making "Jurassic Park."

What stores do you like to shop in when you are in LA?
I love a bargain. So Ross, Marshalls, Target, Best Buy are some of my favorites. However, I love all kinds of shopping, food shopping, clothes shopping, furniture shopping. I love the idea of stores and buying and getting the best deal on quality merchandise.

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What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?
Heat was a great LA movie, and it showed you don't have to shoot in New York or Chicago to have a great gangster/cop movie. LA Confidential was another great LA movie.

Best LA-themed book(s)?
Again, LA Confidential.

What's your favorite beach in SoCal and why?
Manhattan Beach is my favorite because it is big, and clean. But don't try to find parking there on the 4th of July. I made that mistake once. After about 2 hours of looking for a parking space, we started to come up with all creative places that "might" be a parking spot. Like a street corner. "Hey there is no one parked on the curved part of the corner, and it is not painted red, lets park there!"

What's the best place to walk in LA?
What is this "walk" you speak of? No, despite what people might think, I do walk in LA. I love to walk everywhere. The problem is no one else wants to walk with me. I remember when the underground subway opened up; the closest station to my house was in Korea town. So I talked my friend into walking with me to the subway station with me and taking it to Universal City. Our theme was "No Cars." It took us almost 2 hours to walk to the station. By the time we wanted to go home, the subway was going to close for the night, so we ended up taking a cab home.

What is the "center" of LA to you?
Culver City, easy access to everything LA has to offer.

What is the center of LA if you have children?
I think that maybe living in the Valley would be nice if I had kids.

Is there a "Los Angeles child" personality?
Yes, but I am not sure what it is. Maybe because I am one I have no perspective. I think there is more of a "People who came to Los Angeles" personality. They think they have to act a certain way to fit in, as if they are cool, work in the movie industry, and know some famous person. If you were born here, you don't care about that stuff.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?
Beachfront house in Manhattan Beach

People stereotype Los Angeles as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?
It is very hard. Most people seem to have an agenda, and if you don't fit into that you are not worth making friends with. Of course, there are exceptions to this and I like to be around those types of people.

What is the city's greatest secret?
Dodger Dogs. Have you had one of these? They are the greatest hot dogs in the world.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?

If you could make one thing be different in LA for your 30th birthday, what would you change?
I would change the laws so the test to get a drivers license in LA was much harder, and that they would retest you every five years. There are so many people out there driving who have no idea how to drive properly. Driving should not be for just anyone, you are controlling a large motorized vehicle, and you should need to be good at it to do it.

Oh, and get rid of all these speed bumps everywhere. I can understand a speed bump in a parking lot or something like that, but if I am driving down the street in a 25 mph zone, why do they have foot high lumps in the road ? Didn't we start paving roads to get smooth streets? We might as well go back to dirt roads or cobblestone to slow everyone down. Why am I paying taxes so they can put bumps in the roads? Save some money and don't fix the roads so often, because a pothole is like natures speed bump.