In the second of the ‘Interviews with Artists’ series, Blueprint Arts Editor, Sophie Buck, interviews Lou L, a self-taught Swedish illustrator and self-proclaimed ‘anxious person’ who shares raw and richly emotional art on Instagram (@voteforancientsouls).
CN: perfectionism, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
How would you describe the art you make?
‘Immediate’ is the first word that comes to mind. It must happen straight away, just as it comes. If I try to sketch and plan a picture, I tend to get stuck in perfectionism. That’s a big reason why I almost never use pencil. The possibility to correct with a rubber stresses me out.
When did you first start making art? Why?
I don’t remember ever not drawing and doodling. I find it therapeutic in the same way as journaling, which I’ve also done as far back as I can remember. My head is a messy place, and it must come out somehow. When I see my thoughts and feelings on paper, in a drawing or words, it feels easier to deal with. As I find talking quite difficult too, writing and drawing has worked as a way of communicating.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
I am very inspired by the Swedish artists Nina Hemmingson, Joanna Rubin Dranger and Stina Wirsén. British artists Faye Moorehouse and Laura Carlin are also huge inspirations. As I don’t have any formal training, I observe the work by artists I admire and learn from them. I think it was Grayson Perry that said that we should not be afraid to admit that we are inspired by other artists. No one is really original.
What’s your artistic practice?
I want my strong black coffee or spicy tea, somewhere to sit, my paper and pens and podcasts to listen to. Something to listen to is very important as it helps me to focus. It has always been like that. That’s it really. I can sit almost anywhere and draw as long as I have my headphones.
About once a week I sit down at my computer to scan and edit pictures and organise them. This is a very satisfying process to me. I like to keep things neat and organised.
Are there any pieces of art that have had a particular effect on you?
All books by Joanna Rubin Dranger are incredible in their simplicity, yet so accurate in their description of stress, anxiety and depression. But there is a lot of humour too – dark as the night – which I appreciate a lot. Her work has helped me enormously.
In what ways do you think the arts are important for mental health?
When we are making art, we own our story, our reality. No one can tell us that what we are feeling or experiencing is wrong. This is really empowering, especially since mental health issues are so often accompanied by low self-esteem. And thanks to the Internet and social media, we can share our work and find like-minded people who says “I feel the same”.
How have you found being self-taught?
There are good sides and bad sides, as with everything. Good because I don’t feel weighed down by too much knowledge about how I “should” work and how things “should” be. I only have myself and my own eyes and my own ways. One of the few occasions where ignorance is good I think. But feedback and mentoring would of course have been great too, to develop faster. And by being self-taught (and an introvert with social anxiety…) you don’t have that art-world network as accessible as trained artists have.
Do you have any links to more of your work you want to share?
I am just in the process of setting up my online shop where I will be selling prints and stuff and things. This is a really big step for me as I never thought I could be a person earning money from my work, that anyone would be willing to pay for my scribbles. http://voteforancientsouls.bigcartel.com
I have also initiated a quarterly online zine called Icecubes Zine, together with a few other instagram artists. https://icecubeszine.tumblr.com
My work will be featured in another just launched zine too, Undefined: @undefinedzine. I love the zine format and hope to do more similar projects.
Apart from that, I mostly hang out on Instagram at the moment: @voteforancientsouls
All images by Lou L (@voteforancientsouls)