Sometimes one comes across an interviewee who really understands the attraction of mystery. This is the case with Lula Is In Trouble (real name undisclosed). Fine details are not to be found with this artist, one of the few I’ve ever come to be really interested in via the plagued medium that is social media. Something we can establish is that Lula, as I’ll call her for short, is a brilliant photographer and graphic artist with friends in hip and extremely cool places; Her relationship with the tremendous filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is one which I try to delve into, but alas, with no real insight. Still, what follows is a fascinating (critics may say ‘limited’) study of a real creative and someone who seems to have no limits when it comes to artistic output. If nothing else, I strongly recommend you check her work.
A brief chat with the enigma that is ‘Lula Is In Trouble’ follows:
You’re heavily into producing photography, music, and artwork. How would you describe yourself in your artistry and what you create?
I’d say I’m heavily into everything that helps me craft a surreal, fantasy world. Any medium is fine for me. Photography, illustrations, music, collages…I study and experiment continuously. If the result looks like art to others, then I’m an artist. Personally, I consider myself a loner with a lot of imagination.
Do you often have conceptual ideas for the work you produce? For example, you’ve proven again and again that you, the woman, yourself, are important as a study…
Most of the time the idea is born, grows, and stays in the back of my mind for a while. Then suddenly that idea becomes a feeling and when that happens I throw it out. I try to make it concrete. It’s difficult to explain. Every artist has their own process I guess. Mine looks a lot like a headache. Yes, the women I portray always look like me. But am I all those women? Are we looking for the same thing? Seeking the same peace? I really don’t know. My girls are on a journey. I like to document it. See where it leads. How does it end?
How do you go about transforming an idea into a conclusion?
There is little rationality in my process of transforming an idea into a work. The technicalities always come later. But the idea is like a bullet. It can’t be stopped.
How did you start – in terms of creating the work you do – what was it that made you begin?
I can’t remember a moment in my life I didn’t spend in the company of art. I’ve always been an ‘atypical’ child. I used to zoom out a lot when teachers or classmates talked to me. Never really enjoyed others people’s company, since childhood. I’ve always preferred books and music. Art in general. I don’t think I ever wanted to emulate anyone. I’m more interested in trying to express the turmoil I always felt inside. I’m not particularly good at communicating in words. And that’s why I chose art.
What would you most like to photograph or use for your art?
I do have a photographic project that is very dear to me; the subject is delicate and I don’t feel like talking about it now. We’ll see when (and if) the project will take form.
Please let me know when you want to talk about it. Regarding your work, what is it that interests you most to allow you to create?
The need to be seen and at the same time to hide from the world is what drives me to make art. Perhaps it is difficult to explain.
What’s given you that very particular style, theme, and overall genre to allow you to produce what you do?
Some of my influences are more or less explicit, but let me tell you this: social media distort reality. People call me “Lynchian”, see references to Lynch films and style in almost everything I do. But it’s other people’s perspective, not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lynch. I love his films, I love his paintings, but I rarely think about other people’s art when I make mine. I feel flattered when someone tells me that what I do reminds them of David Lynch or other established artists, but it’s not my goal. It’s art itself that influences me. To say it better, it’s a thousand ways art can communicate something that truly inspires me. The absurdity of life inspires me. Love, pain, despair. Human behavior. Especially human behavior. Humans are weird creatures.
How important is beauty in relation to your work?
Humanity is important in the concepts I share through my artwork. The “beauty” you talk about it’s just a trick by which I attract the viewer. Something pleasant for the eyes that will likely get a disturbing second view. I want my audience to be forced to watch and rewatch until they see that what’s lying underneath the surface might differ from what they think.
Do you have a muse?
I have a source of inspiration that transcends the concept of “muse”.
When does a work of art become important? Do you need external confirmation, or is it something explicitly personal?
Oh, I definitely need external confirmation [haha!] Not in art though. Once an artwork is finished, I give it to the world. I’m not even jealous of my art. Also, what does external confirmation mean, these days? Many likes? Social engagement? More followers? I don’t understand these things. I create something and put it out. People see it and it often has a completely different meaning to them. It’s fascinating. I do my little things, but the audience always adds something that comes from their own heart. I love that.
What kind of artistry interests you the most, or what is it you do? What is it you find most stimulating and worth pursuing?
Analogic photography is so incredibly fascinating. Even errors in analogic photography are amazing. They can create a whole new world. And the developing process is so exciting…
Your photography work is very cinematic. Iconic. Is that intentional or accidental?
Probably both. I always say that, in my next life, I would like to be a DOP. What a fascinating profession. I studied photography, and the use of light is essential to create a particular atmosphere. Preparing a scene, “a set”, is a moment that I love very much. The influence of cinema is strong, of course. Cinema is an amazing medium. Whether it’s more or less sneaky, I like to mention the cinematic world in my shots. In film, everything is possible! But sometimes accidents happen and from them, you can create something new and unexpected. And it’s so good when that happens. An adventure inside an adventure!
This would bring me to a huge favorite in terms of movie directors—Jim Jarmusch. What’s your relationship or connection with Jarmusch – I noticed some social media images with his band Squrl.
Oh, Jim! He’s such a humble person and a supportive friend. And he makes some very funny impersonations! Having one of my illustrations hanging in his writing room still feels surreal to me.
Do you consider the photos of your art also artworks in and of themselves?
It’s all part of the same journey, yes.
What music is currently stirring your senses?
I’m currently listening to a lot of harp concerts. To be totally honest, my playlist is confusing. You have Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but also Angelo Branduardi. Julee Cruise’s angel voice but also 80s heavy metal. What can I say, I have multiple personalities with different tastes probably [ahah!] Jokes aside, the range of music I listen to is wide. But I pour a little “Sleepwalkers” by David Sylvian into my life every day. That is a flawless record. I absolutely adore it. All my personalities do!
Lastly, can you tell me about any projects you’re working on you’d like to promote?
In early 2020 (pre-pandemic) I composed some tunes for a short film, hope to see it released sometime this year. I’m a self-taught musician, not a particularly gifted one. But writing music is one of the most therapeutic activities I’ve ever experienced. Wish I had more time ( and more instruments) to focus on that. I wrote an opening theme for a podcast last year. I loved doing that. It’s called “Midnight Coffee”. A jazzy tune for night people.
Lula (Is In Trouble), thank you.
Thank you for having me!
Find out more about Lula’s work.
And you will find her regularly musing and sharing work on Instagram and Twitter. Listen to Lula’s music.