Interview with pop surreal artist Lola Gil

Hello dear Lola, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I've always had the sparkle, growing up painting with my dad around my hometown on storefront windows. He was a cartoonist as well, and a kid at heart. I wanted to grow in his footsteps. But art became very personal around age 13 when my parents started to argue and separate. My grandfather started gathering paints and supplies to keep me busy painting, knowing somehow that this was exactly what I needed to focus on. I think the moment I realized this could be a career was after leaving the tattoo world to raise my daughters, I was asked to include some work in an art show.. I had quite a body of work at this time, because I painted every day for myself. The show had amazing response to my surprise, and has kept me busy ever since.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I'm a storyteller, in a surreal setting. My works evolve from young memories, translated to instill an emotional and pleasant connection to my audience. Growing up I was massively influenced by Disneyland, and all the films/cartoons. Norman Rockwell prints which hung on my grandparents walls. Ed Gorey, little golden books, mercer Mayer, and fairy tales. The wonderful sounds of old jazz music playing in the background while I played with toys. And those toys were old amazing vintage collections of my grandparents. I spent a lot of time at their house, which was a toy wonderland. These days I hold dear to all of those inspirations, and have added master painters like Jan Van Eyck, Vermeer, Gerard David, Hieronymus Bosch, Dali, as a few examples.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I wake up early, and begin my day with painting. My studio takes over the house, so I live and breathe in my work. I only leave the house these days leading up to the show to do things with my girls. Otherwise, painting consumes me.

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperative for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?

I'm self-taught, though I did take a few random art classes in college. I moved myself to San Francisco and quit school just before the pertinent courses became available. I think because of my early exposure with the teachers I had, I was more interested in finding my own way. There are always moments when I find myself wishing I had a better understanding of color spectrum, or mediums, but it's been a wonderful learning experience nonetheless. I'm happy to have experienced a bit of art history over the past 2 years as well. There's nothing better than learning about artists than actually traveling to other countries and discovering them for yourself. I think a formative education isn't necessarily imperative to young artists. If you have a talent, and a passion to create, you're going to push yourself to make the best art you can. The world will critique you for free.
Lola was living with her two daughters in the English countryside for the last two years, before moving back to Los Angeles recently.
What fascinates you the most about (pop) surrealism? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?

I grew a great interest in surrealism the moment I was exposed. It was something out of my dreams, something my eyes couldn't turn away from!! I speak specifically to the works of artist Salvador Dali, whom I came across from a guy selling prints on the streets. From there I went on to discover others like Max Ernst, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, and Magritte. All who made me stop and think. I felt in some way I related to these works. I was the kind of kid (still am) who didn't talk much, inherently shy. I had more visions than words, and felt compelled to create things which had greater visual effect rather than being too obvious.
My works have me stuck in a vortex of my past. Living in a world of make believe. The only thing I can hope my viewers take from seeing them is a sense of stimulation that creates thought or their own daydreams.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
For a long time it was just an extension of being myself. If I wasn't creating, I felt anxious, and lazy. Like breathing air at high altitudes, I couldn't really survive well without some sort of outlet. But I realize now it's a real gift. The ability to visualize and carry out an idea is critical to my sanity. It keeps me level, and helps me figure out how to be the best me I can be.

Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I feel my most comfortable with acrylics. But recently, well past 2 years, I've been working in oil. It's still (and I suspect it will be for quite some time ), very challenging. I equate challenging to be my own schooling. I think I will stick to this for some time yet. I can't foresee giving up acrylics either. These are the 2 mediums which I'll give all my time.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Besides painting, which is my lifelong project, I dream of doing some film. Teaming up with my sister and working on some ideas around the arts I’ve had in my mind for years. She's brilliant. A photographer, videographer, music composer, film editor... She's that guy who can do it all. So without being too vague, we have plans!

What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
The toughest challenge is always going to be the uncertainty of financial survival. Because I have 2 daughters, it always sneaks a worry in towards the end of a painting stint. I always count my fortune in this industry, we have made it for 10 years now. I feel blessed, and thankful for all those who support us. They mean the world to me, and push me to continue improving myself as an artist.
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
Best advice, to put every fiber of your being into your craft. And don't over saturate your market. I can't recall any bad advice. I'm happy to see the same friends who have started working in galleries with me continue a successful career.

What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
There's a political side to this industry which can be quite harsh. I've seen very early on that some galleries can devastate a career if an artist doesn't conform to their needs. I choose to work with galleries who promote growth, and nurture artists careers so that they can continue creating.
It is lonely! Very lonely. When living in England my outlet was exploring a new place every weekend. It gave me something to look forward to, and expanded my wanderlust.

Now that I'm back in LA, I get to decompress with friends at art shows. Though I've been locked up for the lasts 3 months!! But I will be able to venture out soon!
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s’ your goal?
I don't know! I just want to paint. I love creating and hope I can do so until my last days.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Just put your all into everything you do. Art is like music, it's important for viewers to feel your heart and soul in what you create. Make every work feel like a song you want to sing your heart out to.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” - Edgar Degas
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I love exploring, and nature. My soul rejuvenates in and amongst trees and rolling hills. I also love finding vintage jewelry and hand painting to make truly special pieces.
Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
I have a new body of work which will be exhibiting December 13th through January 3rd at 80forty Gallery in Los Angeles. It's a group of paintings that have taken me 2 years to work on, all in oil.
For more info about Lola´s exhibition, please, see our previous article on Oh, So Surreal: 80Forty Gallery presents Lola Gil´s solo exhibition “The Younger”.
Thank you dear Lola, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new visions and works :)
By contributor Linda. December 2014. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.