Collage itself is an art form that displaces all that we think to be certain. It can be unsettling. Mystifying. In this case, entrancing. Eugenia Loli is a collage artist and illustrator based in California who found collage as a form of escape. Her work is a rabbit hole into that dystopian reality deep within the realms of our subconscious and those meta-meta-meta-dreams that we find ourselves desperately trying to recapture. Hyperspace. Surrealism. Making sense of the nonsensical. Hers is a psychedelic delirium from which you won’t want to wake up. Let yourself be transported to the world of Eugenia Loli…
Tell us about yourself and your love of collage. When did you discover your interest in the art?
I started drawing (rather well) as a kid, and loved the idea of becoming an artist. However, life happened, and I ended up becoming a programmer, and later a tech news blogger. Art came back to my life when I was slowly dying from a mysterious disease. I was locked at home, with nothing to do, so I started doing some video editing on the side. In 2011, I finally figured out the problem (undiagnosed celiac disease), found the cure via the Paleo diet, and art flourished. My brain kind of became re-programmed when I found my health. Collages kind of happened. Sometimes I feel that collage was a gift for eventually figuring out what was wrong with me for all these years.
You are also a filmmaker. How do you feel the two art forms complement each other?
Surreal collage can give you some unique ideas about film. Unfortunately, to realise these in a film (rather than in a static image) would be very expensive. Except some composition and colour, filmmaking and collage haven’t had a big intersection in my life.
Upon seeing your work, I was instantly drawn to the characteristic retro scenes. What is it that draws you to vintage images and more specifically to the femme fatale? What are your favourite sorts of scenes and scenarios to work with?
Lesser copyright danger. I’m sorry for not being more romantic and pseudo-intellectual about it, but the truth is, collagists mostly use vintage material because the danger of copyright infringement is smaller (although we do consider our acts fair use).
Having said that, vintage images shot with kodachrome film look way better than modern digital images (and even film developed after 1980). They have a ‘painting’ quality to them. The few collagists who use modern digital camera images today, their work looks like photomontage. Vintage collage is closer to painting, aesthetically.
As for the femme fatale themes: people like them. I found that plain surreal landscapes, or abstract imagery is just not liked as much online. My personal favourites are meta-psychedelic landscape-y scenes. I’ve noticed that artists prefer the sort of things I like: abstract, complex scenes that have a strong atmosphere. But the people at large prefer simpler ideas (e.g. women, couples, flowers etc.) that they can comprehend within 1-2 seconds of looking at them.
Do you create digitally or by hand? Which method do you prefer and how to you feel it is important to your work?
I work digitally for collages because it doesn’t make any sense today to do paper collages. Digital collages that aren’t using soft cuts, and they don’t have their colours pushed in Photoshop, they look exactly the same as paper collages on the screen, or when printed. Since most people prefer prints and products (e.g. t-shirts), rather than original artworks, it makes no sense to me to work by hand. The logistics for it don’t add up. Not to mention that commissions are always required to be digital, since deep changes are inevitable.
Do you also illustrate?
Yes, and these I do on paper. Unlike collages, ink work is vastly different on paper than digitally. Digital illustrations that aren’t done on paper are too obvious, and I love the organic feel of non-perfect ink lines.
Each of your collages seems to tell a different story: enchanting, moving and wonderfully humorous. What do you hope to stir and inspire in the viewer?
A smile mostly, and as a second reaction, hopefully, an awe of what awaits us in the hyperspace. I’m an advocate of people using entheogenic substances, like DMT, or practicing lucid dreaming and transcendental meditation, because I believe that the realms that can be seen via these methods are objectively real, and that the human race needs to know about them. So I hope that some of my meta-psychedelic collages offer a glimpse of that world. For the record, my mode of operating in these realms is via lucid dreams, not entheogens.
What are you most inspired by?
Hyperspace. Aliens. The universe. I don’t really care much about my human condition, which is why when I do depict it in my collages it’s full of sarcasm. I feel like a prisoner in my human form. My art is my escape.
Are there any artists that you feel have had a particular influence on your work?
Cur3es, David Delruelle, Magritte. And The Matrix movie.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Currently, I’m bogged down by commissions, but I hope that I have new, different type of work soon. And this time, if people don’t like the new style, I don’t care!