Luke Bugbee started in a place similar to that of many little boys: building forts and using his imagination to create play worlds. Many of Bugbee’s actions came from the desire to do everything better than his older brothers.
He was the youngest of four so he thought he had a lot to prove. When his brother drew a shoe for an art project in middle school, Bugbee drew a shoe too, a shoe good enough to make it into the middle school display case even though he was no older than eight.
These small attempts were only the beginnings of a journey that would combine his art talent with his creativity to give him a bright future.
Bugbee is a junior at The Master’s College, but he has already produced many commissioned art pieces, specifically quillings.
Quilling is the art of rolling little pieces of paper and gluing them upright onto a board. His commissions include a piece for John MacArthur, “The Lion and the Lamb”, and another the Lululemon Athletica store in San Jose, Calif. He also did a quilling of the crest of The Master’s College that hangs in the newly remodeled MacArthur Center.
In 2000, on the eve of Bugbee’s seventh birthday, his family moved to the Philippines as missionaries. His parents worked at Faith Academy in Manilla, and Bugbee attended the school from second grade all the way through to graduation. The Philippines proved to be a goldmine for his artistic inspiration.
“I’m inspired most by nature and travelling,” Bugbee said. “The Philippines is like paradise with white sand beaches and big caves and crystal clear blue water. God is the creator and he has created everything beautiful. . . . Ultimately I see my own art as me mimicking God’s role as creator.”
Bugbee had never planned to be a professional artist so when Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, director of The Master’s College Global Outreach, approached him about displaying his art in a case for TMC, he had to make five pieces in only a week. This was the first time he displayed a quilling, only the second quilling he had ever made. A commission for another quilling came as a result of that art display and so began his side career as an artist.
“Lisa can be credited with starting me since I got my first commission from that piece I did for her. Ever since then it has been a steady stream of commissions,” Bugbee said.
Chuck Rush, Resident Director of Waldock Hall, where Bugbee lives, was also instrumental. “Chuck was really encouraging to me. He gave me an art studio in the dorm several years in a row. It was no doing of my own, it was just providence and people loving me and supporting me,” he added.
When people from his old school in the Philippines see Bugbee now, they are inspired by his accomplishments. Juliette Green, who attended Faith Academy with Bugbee is now engaged to be married to him after a six-and-a-half year dating relationship. When speaking of Bugbee’s friends at Faith Academy she said, “They see someone who didn’t start out amazing. He was talented and gifted but he had to work to develop it. They are inspired to see someone do what he loves and to follow a dream.”
He has been inspiring to his friends at The Master’s College too. Chevy Gilliam, an RA in Slight, says this about his friend, “[Bugbee] is a great example to me of someone who is in awe of God and in love with his girlfriend. The longest relationship I’ve ever seen my mom in was a three-year relationship. Seeing Luke still fully in love with Juliette was a real encouragement to me and an example to me.”
Bugbee has traveled around the Philippines and United States, and also to Austria and Israel with The Master’s College IBEX program. These travels have inspired many art pieces, including a series of watercolors focused around the different locations he has visited.
In Israel at Masada, a fortress built by Herod the Great, Bugbee and Gilliam snuck out of the hostel and hiked up to Masada at night, the gentle wind and clear sky perfect conditions for a hike.
“The stars were glistening overhead and they reflected off the Dead Sea,” Bugbee said. “I wish with everything within me that I could paint it the way I saw it. There’s no way that I could.”
Bugbee’s life has been adventurous so far, but his journey is not over. His plans for the future are pretty straightforward: he will keep working for OpenGov.com, the company that currently employs him. He is a graphic designer for this company and designs their logos. He hopes to build his own art portfolio on the side.
“If I do my own piece I can do the most elaborate and huge pieces that my imagination can come up with . . . pieces that aren’t constrained to other people’s desires for their art piece. If it turns out that my time is paying off better doing artwork [than working for OpenGov] then I can switch over,” he said.
It may not take that long for Bugbee to reach this point. In his freshman year he came into school with thirty dollars in the bank and finished the year with ten thousand just from his artwork.
His artwork is opening doors and he is walking through them.
By Jen Gibb