We're proud to introduce Clever Craft - a new 7115 journal interview series with daring individuals who have found original and innovative ways to turn their creative passions into careers.
We've always been fascinated by unlikely origin stories. By understanding all the pivotal decisions that have led people down the paths they travel, we learn about the importance of embracing every unexpected twist and turn, and cleverly working within your means.
Incidentally the origin story for 7115 began at a small sidewalk stand in downtown Manhattan. After a stop and start singing career, Szeki picked up jewelry making as a creative outlet. At the time it was just a hobby and on weekend she would set up shop at a small stand along Clinton St, connecting with locals and selling her pieces to passers-by. It was from here that the idea to open up a brick-and-mortar store to serve her community blossomed.
For our first interview of the series we sit down with New York based artist Lara Hodulick, who hand paints textiles onto silk garments, creating one-of-a-kind pieces. Lara sells these through her own online shop and also regularly collaborates with creatives, designers and friends to turn her paintings into special personal belongings. Her unique way of working challenges the way you think of clothing. The very precise, considered and intentional way she goes about crafting each piece instils a special value in each item. What she creates becomes so much more than just a garment. Her pieces are silk paintings whose striking individuality and sentimental value lasts a lifetime.
Hi Lara, tell us about yourself. What do you do and what is Ljuka?
I am a creative and painter living in Williamsburg Brooklyn! I hand-paint textiles on silk clothing and collaborate with other clothing designers and creatives.
Lara wears the Back Pleated Shirt
Where did the idea for Ljuka come from?
I originally came up with the idea while driving through the desert from Arizona to L.A. I was super inspired by the colors and landscapes of the desert and I wanted to translate what I saw into paintings.
It's interesting that you don't come from a formal background in art. How do you think that's played a role in your process and the way Ljuka has evolved?
I think I was more open minded to mistakes and imperfections by not being a trained artist. I’ve always been drawn to modern painters and work, and I self educated myself so it felt natural when I picked up a paint brush.
Can you walk us through the process of creating one of your pieces?
I mostly paint on vintage silks that I source myself and tailor for a modern fit. After I source the garment I use a wood board to separate the front and back of the fabric and hand-paint right on it, voila! It is a risk every time, and no piece is like the other. I use a special fabric paint and heat press when the garment it is finished.
What sets your pieces apart is that they're all individually hand-painted. What is the reason that you want to stick with hand-painting every single piece?
I decided to hand-paint instead of digitally print my paintings for that special one-of-a-kind authenticity. I also noticed hand-painting textiles is a bit of a lost art in today's technical design world so I wanted to bring that back.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to seriously pursue Ljuka? Was there a pivotal event or moment for you?
I began painting because I enjoyed it, almost for therapeutic reasons. I didn't exactly see a business future with it. That seemed like a dream. That became a reality when the fashion designer Jason Wu discovered my work and reached out to do a collaboration. Since then I made a production of my own pieces and created a seasonless collection that is focused on the artwork. I am also working on a series of collaborations with different creatives. It is beyond exciting to see my project bloom!
Running your own venture must be such an empowering and enriching experience. We're sure it also requires a lot of self-discipline. How do you keep yourself inspired and motivated?
My customers and and collaborators keep me motivated. Whenever I have self doubt in my work I think about the future and all of the great opportunities I have and it keeps me inspired to keep going!
Although challenges are always tough to encounter, they teach us invaluable lessons. What is one of the greatest challenges that you encountered with Ljuka so far and how have you benefited from it?
I think standing out as your own in a sea of other incredibly talented creatives is a challenge! This has taught me to beat to my own drum and focus on my ideas and concepts and ultimately this has given me more confidence in my work and as a person.
How long have you lived in New York for and how does the city affect the art you create?
I am from the Hudson Valley in upstate NY and I have lived in the city for the past 11 years. Coming from the countryside I really need both aspects of city and nature in my life. I am constantly inspired by NYC and visiting the museums and galleries the city has to offer. However plants, ocean, desert, trees, animals, and mountains, is important for me to experience as well and brings new ideas to my work.
Living in New York is tough. How do you manage to organize your time and afford to do what you love?
Everything is a balance here! I make sure I have two days every week to collect myself and have studio time. I also make sure I have one day every other week to go to my favorite galleries and museums to see the new exhibitions.
Do you have any exciting things in the works that you can share with us?
I am collaborating with my dear friend Lindsay Rogers of the jewelry line Casual Seance, she is taking six of my paintings and turning them into earrings. I am also working on a line of exclusive vintage silks for a new online shop called Subrina Heyink Studio.