• UO Interviews: Lara Hodulick

    Hailing from upstate New York, artist Lara Hodulick has been living in Brooklyn for the past nine years. In the past, she co-owned an innovative art/retail space called End of Century and Of Us with Chantal Chadwick before branching out to start her own project, Ljuka. "Ljuka evolved from a trip to the desert for the first time," Lara tells us. "Coming from NYC and the East Coast my entire life, Sedona was an eye-opening experience and the ultimate influence to paint what I felt on silk." Eager to dive deeper into Lara's art, we visited her sunny studio to find out more about her techniques, life, and current inspirations.
    Photos by Julia Robbs

    Can you briefly explain what you felt inspired by during your trip to Sedona?
    I had never been in such a wide open space before. The colors, the large open gaps of land, and the mountainscapes completely took me aback and opened a new door of inspiration. It was much more earthy and clean than the gritty, busy inspiration I get from New York City. I now go back to the desert each year to regain that memory. I like to think the contrast of both places, the desert and NYC, bring influence to my work.

    Your designs have such a fresh, minimal look. What is your background in art?
    I don't think I have a background! I didn’t study art seriously. Growing up not far from NYC gave me a huge advantage to being exposed to some of the best museums and works. As cliché as it may sound, art is something that comes natural to me. I am constantly reading and researching in my own time and I paint when I want or feel inspired -it's exciting to see how Ljuka is unfolding!

    When did you first decide to start pursuing your art more seriously?
    I began painting on silks purely for therapeutic reasons and for friends. It wasn’t until after some months that my pal Breanne (owner of the coveted vintage shop Horizons in Williamsburg) asked me to participate in a pop-up at her shop. Extremely shy of my work then, I was pleased to see I almost sold out, which gained me the confidence to take it more seriously.

    What is your chosen medium and materials?
    Silk is my favorite fabric, so my go-to paint is by Jacquard. Currently I source all of my pieces on my own, therefore the textiles are all hand-painted on one-of-a-kind select vintage pieces. I also tailor many of the tops for a modern shape and fit. Though I am very big on vintage and the economical sense of it, I look down the road and think about producing pieces as I would love to paint on silk pants or a jumpsuit... those are harder to come by on my weekly treasure hunts!

    Do you have any favorite spots to look for your vintage silk pieces?
    I try to get out of town and go on as many buying trips as well possible! Small town church thrift shops and estate sales mostly.

    Do you hand-paint everything onto fabric or is there screenprinting involved?
    Every piece is hand-painted. Oh man, does it take a long time, but I love the process and find it to be super exclusive that way. You will see in some of my pieces, especially those with smaller repetitive textiles, that there are some mistakes (such as a heavier dye mark). Those small flaws are what makes each piece its own distinct one.

    Do you end up making a lot of clothing items for friends? Any design that’s been the most popular?
    I am very lucky from the support I get from my friends! At the moment it has been mostly friends and pop-up events, but as I grow I hope to create a bigger online presence. Instagram and Etsy have been great links to meeting fellow creators (like StickyBaby and WORLDCLIQUE) and customers. As of lately I have been painting many mask-like faces inspired by Picasso’s ceramic plates and my overall emotions that seem to speak to customers. NYC can be a daunting and thrilling place to live so it is the perfect storm to paint a variety of feelings.

    What’s something you have in the works?
    I recently had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with Beau Rhee of Atelier De Geste (a multi-conceptual brand and dance company). I live-painted during her dance performance at Glasshouse Gallery in Brooklyn last month. I hope to continue to collaborate with more creators in different forms in the future.

    Anything you’re excited for in the coming year?
    More pop-ups! And I hope to travel with my pieces to some new cities this year. Also, my friends who run the clothing label Ulihu are teaming up to costume a feature in L.A. and some of my pieces will be worn in the film.

    The film sounds exciting! Do you know any details about that yet?
    I have to stay hush on this topic, but it is a horror based film, which I loved because my pieces are so opposite of horror (or so I like to think!). Therefore I'm excited to see how they are used.

    Who are some of your current inspirations?
    My inspiration comes from many different outlets! Currently films from the '70s and '80s that include Meryl Streep and Anjelica Huston - those women carry powerful emotions! Also, music plays a huge role while I am painting. My current rotation has been Sean Nicholas Savage, Lena Fayre, and Mozart.

    We love your studio setup! Can you tell us a little bit about how long you’ve lived there?
    Thank you! In New York sometimes you have to make the studio/bedroom makeshift work while you are starting out. This fall will mark three years in this space. I was a true Sandy victim at the time living on a boat on the Hudson when the storm hint. I am extremely happy to call this place home!

    Where do you like to shop when it comes to decorating your space?
    I thrift a lot and like to find one-of-a-kind pieces. I love big coffee table art books. Blackcat Books on Shelter Island is heaven for that! Two of my prized furniture pieces are made by my mother, so I hope to acquire more of those as time goes on.

    Where can we find you when you’re not at home or in the studio? Any favorite spots in town?
    I love musuems. Neue Galerie is a favorite. My favorite bar is Doris in Bed-Stuy. You can often find me on any given day taking a break at my local Japanese coffeehouse, Brooklyn Ball Factory. Their roof garden is a secret oasis and much easier to get up to than my roof! Also, my friend Jenni Crains's gallery out in the Rockaways, Topless, is a go-see, for sure. I plan to be at the beach as much as possible this summer.

    To see more from Lara, you can visit Ljuka online or follow her on Instagram