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A Q+A with Euge Leung Creator of Puglie Pug

This week, we sat done with Euge Leung, creator of the most adorable pug cartoon out there: Puglie Pug! If you've never checked out Euge's work, you'll want to take a look at this post (believe us). Get the lowdown on Puglie Pug and the creator behind this little roly-poly. 

Hi Euge! Could you tell us about yourself?

Hey Hey! My name’s Euge, I’m a transguy with a love for video games, rad art styles, vinyl toys, and pugs. Well all animals, really. But pugs.

How did you get started out as an artist? What was the defining moment that made you realize that was what you wanted to do?

I started drawing when I was probably around 3 or 4 years old. I remember having a notebook filled with varying, poorly drawn versions of Sailor Moon. Since then, I’ve just always doodled, attended extra curricular art classes, took art consistently as my elective in high school, and went to Emily Carr University of Art and Design for animation. 

My defining moment that made me realize art was what I wanted to do was…pretty anticlimactic. It was my last year of high school, when everyone was applying for universities, and I figured I was either going to do art or biology, since I liked both. I boiled down to art being funner for me in general, so I went for it.

Puglie Creator Euge Leung in a Badtz Maru Kigurumi

What about Puglie? What is the untold story of our favorite little fatty? And why a pug and not any other variety of doggo?

Ah… Puglie came at an interesting time in my life when I didn’t know what I was doing with my career. I loved graphic design, but not so much with the amount of client work I was doing, and I loved illustration, but I wasn’t good enough in any style I admired.

I wanted to merge both my passions, and ended up with nothing that looked right to me, all the while (accidentally) comparing myself to other artists and wondering why I wasn’t anywhere as good as them. This resulted in crippling depression and an art block which lasted for a month where I created nothing and felt no aim in life. Dramatic.

At some point, I got fed up and angry at myself for feeling that way, so I sat down and literally said to myself, “Euge, what do you want to draw?” And I replied, “Fat stupid things, and food.”

I didn’t know what the “fat stupid thing” was, but I recalled the times when I was exhibiting at conventions, and I had this illustration as prints and stickers that sold well.

But above selling well, it was always super fun when I sold it because people would tell me they’re pug parents, or their friends are, or mom, or coworker, etc, and they’d show me their pictures of the cutest little fatties! Those were truly the highlight of my con times! 

So I started sketching out what Puglie’s head shape and face would look like, his body, and so on:

 

And thus, my very first illustration of Puglie was the Doughnut Puglie!

 

And for the first time in my life, I zoomed out of my illustration, looked at it, and laughed, and I was truly happy about what I created.

Turns out Puglie, in relation to his art style, was what I always really wanted to do, but pushed aside because I thought it wasn’t good enough compared to all the other art styles I greatly admired.

Why pugs? I honestly don’t know haha! They have a special place in my heart with how roly-poly they are, and their little snorty sounds, but above all else - their looks. Pugs are interesting in that, some people hate them because they think they’re ugly, but it’s what I call pugly - the “ugliness” that makes them cute. Hence “Puglie” :P 

Before Puglie, were there any major projects? What about right now? Are there other projects happening besides Puglie?

Before Puglie, there wasn’t really anything focused going on, everything I did was practice or exploration in to a style or idea I had. Right now though, I have two apparel brand ideas brewing, one is much more graphic design and abstract icon oriented, and the other is actually another character, but less adorable, and more like a vinyl toy-esque, young adult kind of appeal.

I try to work on ideas here and there for those two brands, but really, I spend most of my time focused on Puglie because I’m terrible at time management for balancing projects haha.

This year, you took a big leap and decided to work on Puglie full time (congrats by the way!) How did you come to that decision, and what is that like? What are the challenges, the exciting moments?

Ah thank you, thank you!

Before taking the leap, I was working full time for another company which I loved wholeheartedly, but waking up at 8:00am, getting home at 7:00pm, and then working on Puglie until 2:00am (rinse and repeat) was wearing me down in every way. My weekends were the only days I could catch up on a backlog of Puglie work - emails, projects, organizing for conventions, updating online stores, etc. 

I knew something was going to give, and it was either going to be my health, my passion, or my job… so I opted to give up my job. It wasn’t an easy decision because I loved the people there, and running your own business with the idea that, if you don’t do anything, you’re not going to survive, is pretty stressful. But I have the rare chance to do something so fulfilling for myself, and the opportunities I have before me were beneficial enough that, I knew if I didn’t capitalize on them, I would miss my time. I’m still loving what I’m doing, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m usually under constant (self-inflicted) stress haha.

My challenges definitely come from time management - how much time should I allot to emails, drawing, marketing, planning future ideas, sales, updating online stores, researching conventions, exploring new merchandise, etc etc etc. It never feels like there’s enough time in a day, and doing all that while juggling a normal human life, like being social, keeping up with fitness, eating, bathing, and so on can get a bit hectic at times.

The excitement comes from starting a new drawing, finishing it, seeing people’s reactions to the new adventure, being at a convention… I guess to sum it up, literally everything that’s happening is exciting and still super surreal to me. I’m always just happy to be on this journey. Stressed happy, but still happy for all the right reasons haha.

What would you say is your most unforgettable Puglie moment (with fans, online, or conventions)?

Oh jeez… I have so many…most, if not all, of my unforgettable moments are because of fans.

I’ll recall a particular convention - Sakura Con 2016

It was there that I met 4 amazing fans, they were all friends, and they all didn’t know of Puglie before the convention, but when they saw my table, they all just squealed and screamed. They were just so happy to see the little fatty for the first time, and oh gosh, over the course of three days, they bought well over 30 surprise bags, I’m sure of it. They all had so much fun opening the bags, seeing what’s inside, trading their stickers and buttons, and they were ecstatic when one of them won the winning ticket in the surprise bags. I even made extra surprise bags with extra winning tickets just for them to play haha. They just made my first Sakura Con and Surprise Bag game so amazingly fun. I still keep in contact with them because they were all just the sweetest people ever. It was also at this con that I had the luck of meeting the creators of We Love Fine! Like…that being my first United States convention was unfathomably amazing.

But honestly, anytime a fan tells me that Puglie makes them laugh on a rough day, that they love the little fatty, and just how much they appreciate the poot, my heart just swells up and I’m just so overwhelmed with joy.

Aside from online, you also sell at conventions! What would you say is your favorite thing about them? Least favorite? 

My favourite thing is definitely being there to meet fans! Fans from online or people that become fans right on the spot haha! I love the ability to truly thank them face to face, to see their joy and excitement, or sometimes confusion at Puglie being himself. I love the atmosphere, the interaction, and just seeing the little fatties go to great homes :]

My least favourite thing about conventions has to be how tiring it can be. During the convention, everything is fine. I’m standing for most of the convention, having conversation after conversation, enjoying the atmosphere and all that, but once the convention day is over, suddenly my legs realize they’re made of jelly, my stomach wakes itself up with its own rumbling, and the last ounce of energy escapes me as I exhale after a convention day haha. I also hate unpacking after a convention.

People have compared Puglie to the dog version of Pusheen – how do you feel about his fame?

I honestly don’t think I can compare, at least not yet? I am extremely flattered by the comparison, and I hope to one day do a collaboration with Pusheen if I’m lucky enough haha, but no, like every time someone tells me “Puglie is famous!” or “Puglie is a celebrity!” I just kind of… make inhuman noises because I’m so flattered and I suck at taking compliments, but I also don’t feel like he is personally. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m too hard on myself or whatnot with my standards of success and fame haha. From the inside looking out, I can admit he has a small following, but certainly nothing close to famous in my opinion.

Will we one day get to meet some of Puglie’s friends or family? Maybe a chibi version of you and Puglie? Or will the fatty always ride solo?

Oh, I definitely have some additional animal friends planned! One is definitely a black Puglie haha! But for now, since Puglie is still fairly young on his own, I hope to solidify him better before pairing him up with more adventure buddies!

And now for some fun questions!

Which Puglie would you say is your favorite in the following food categories, and why?

Breakfast

Poot Loops!

The original design was actually Puglie through a large O cereal on top of a bowl, but the design didn’t read very well and it just didn’t look good, so I scrapped the old design and came up with him in a cereal box. I needed a title for the cereal, and it seems obvious to call it “Poot Loops,” but it actually took me a few minutes to brainstorm ideas, like “Puglie-O’s” or something haha, so I was really proud to have come up with “Poot Loops”. It’s totally paid off, since people usually laugh out loud when they read it :D

Drinks

Milk!

I personally love milk cartons, it’s weird, I think they’re really novel packages, so when I redesigned the old Milk Carton design to the new one, adding in more of my own graphic design interests in terms of creating icons, I was really happy with the result. 

Sweets

Cotton Candy!

I love the brightness of the colors and the fact that Puglie is in a poof, so you see his little feet dangling in midair haha. 

Savory

Taiyaki!

I just find it funny and stupid looking that he’s in a giant fish. Definitely got an animal-onesie-esque series coming up haha.

Between Chocolate, Banana, Strawberry and Plain, which milk flavor would you say is the best? Does Puglie agree with you?

I love chocolate milk like no tomorrow, and Puglie would agree with me…but then again…he agrees with everything that’s edible…so I’m not sure if that really counts. 

Now that you have Puglie, would you consider getting a pug in real life? Or would that make Puglie jealous?

Haha I think that would make Puglie a bit jealous with the time taken away from taking him on new adventures to care for a real little fatty, but I do really hope one day, Puglie will have enough people to love and support him so that I can have the time to own a real pooter! 

Finally, you picked Badtz Maru as your choice Kigurumi! What would you say you and Badtz have in common?

Apart from the “spiky hair” and unimpressed face (don’t get me wrong, I smile and laugh a lot, but when I’m alone, I tend to look a bit unapproachable), Badtz Maru has always been a silly troublemaker, and I always found that amusing and even admirable. To have the confidence, and perhaps freedom, to do what you want without caring what others think of you is the best. 

Truth be told, one of my apparel brand ideas plays off the idea of childhood troublemaking haha.

Puglie Creator Euge Leung in a Badtz Maru Kigurumi

Kigurumi.ca is the official Canadian distributor of authentic SAZAC kigurumi. SAZAC is Japan's number one kigurumi manufacturer, and the quality of SAZAC onesies is unmatched around the world. Unfortunately, this means that many other manufacturers will try (and fail!) to mimic SAZAC products. It doesn't take much to notice a major difference in quality between authentic kigurumi and imitators' attempts.

Fake. vs. Real: Stitch Kigurumi

For starters, imitation kigurumi are generally made of much thinner fabric--sometimes crushed velvet, which deteriorates much more quickly than fleece, cotton, and poly--and are poorly stitched together. Fakes tend to have wonky-looking faces: crossed eyes, asymmetrical features, and visible stitch defects. Colours won't be nearly as vivid, lining is often missing altogether, and features such as sleeves, tails, ears, wings, etc., will be overall much more floppy and downright sad-looking.