A Heart to Art with Lily Padula

Lily Padula is a gifted young artist from New York. An illustrator through and through, she does inspiring work that deals with modern reality, but with a twist of its own.  Her art is her way of exploring the world, and yet, what she uncovers is the facade of human reality. Her favourite theme is that of man against nature, two forces, one intending to survive, the other to destroy.
Except, the roles keep changing!
There is a dark humour in her illustrations that is unnervingly straight.
You can’t hide from the truth in her art.
Her work has been awarded by American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and Creative Quarterly. She was named one of Tumblr’s “Illustrators to Watch” and regularly creates gifs for various ad campaigns as a Tumblr Creatr.
Here is our little “heart to art” (pun intended) with the lovely, Lily Padula.
Can you share a little about your background? How did your Journey begin?
My family all comes from New York City, but I was raised in a small beach town about 2 hours away from NYC. As a kid I was always drawn to creative outlets. I played a few different instruments, sewed clothes, and baked. I actually started drawing a bit later than most artists, probably around when I was 16. I fell in love with it and decided to pursue it in college. I was always drawn to the energy of New York City so I knew I wanted to move there for college. I chose to study illustration at The School of Visual Arts in NYC. I had to work hard to get my skills up to the other students’, but I was lucky to have wonderful teachers that helped me find my voice and to do what I do today. 
Up from the depths
What was your first ever inspiration?
My grandfather had a copy of Henri Rousseau’s painting “the sleeping gypsy” hanging in his house. I remember staring at it for hours as a kid and to this day Rousseau is one of my favorite artists.
Different people grow up dreaming about becoming different things. Did you always aspire to be an artist?
For awhile I wanted to be a lawyer, actually! I have always had a desire to communicate, so working as an illustrator was a way to combine my passion for art and communication.
What does your art mean for you?
I use art as a way to analyze and explore the wider world. A lot of my work takes on themes of forces of nature, the paranormal, and aberrations in human behavior. I would say my work is less about my direct experience and more about trying to make sense of a world that is at times both beautiful and terrifying, to look underneath the surface of human society and try to make sense of it.
A lot of my work takes on themes of forces of nature,
the paranormal, and aberrations in human behaviour.
Do you have a favourite among all your projects?
I’m fond of a small book I made last year called “the museum of earthly transcendence”. It is a fictional tour of a museum set 400 years in the future.
Brain Zap
Can you tell us a little about your Creative Process?
I draw and color everything in Photoshop using a cintiq tablet. I add in different handmade textures that I’ve scanned into my computer to bring in the hand drawn feeling to the digital art.
I’m often inspired by real events and situations that I read about. I read a lot of books and am constantly trying to expand my world view. I tend to be inspired by stories that are a bit strange or scary, but I end up illustrating all kinds of things in my work.
Lately my work has been focused on themes of man vs nature. I think the visual potential of two massively powerful forces coming up against one another is fascinating. In a time when our planet is being ravaged by corporatism and reacting with disastrous consequence to human civilisation, I think how we react will be the defining moments of our time. I do work fast considering the density of my work. It can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete a piece
The visual potential of two massively powerful forces (man and nature) coming up against one another is fascinating.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a few magazine assignments, but my passions projects right now are a children’s book that I am getting ready to pitch and a different series of large scale drawings about “involuntary parks”, a term for areas once settled by humans that are abandoned and then reclaimed by nature.
With the world in such chaos and dissention, in the words of Toni Morrisson – “This is precisely the time when artists go to work.”  What are your thoughts on this?
Artists play an incredibly important role in changing culture. Certainly unrest in the world will solicit great works in response, but I hesitate to consider this a good thing. Specifically after the horrendous results of the American election I heard some people say “well at least the art from this time will be great!” I think this is a dangerous mindset, as though the great toll of human life and well-being is offset by great art. While yes, we may get great art from this time, the greater purpose of artists should be to challenge and change the very circumstances that allow for oppression, not merely react to them.
The greater purpose of artists should be to challenge and change the very circumstances that allow for oppression, not merely react to them.
A message to the World
Your voice is powerful, don’t hesitate to use it.
Her Illustrations
Rainbow Valley
“Rainbow Valley” is the nickname for a crevasse on Mount Everest, called so for the multicoloured clothing from the human remains that are too expensive to retrieve from the mountain.
Canyon Shrine
It Follows
Lighting the Way
Vavilovian Mimicry
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Virtual Reality
Near Death Experience
Red Bull
Should Scientists Compromise?
The Menstruation Myth
Brain Zap
To enjoy more of Lily’s work, head over to her website or follow her on Twitter.
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