MEET ALEIA, THE ARTIST RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING THE FESTIVE ‘DREAMSCAPES’ FOR OUR FANTASTICAL CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN.It’s taken Aleia Murawski a long time to be able to call herself an artist but, along with her partner-in-art Sam Copeland, she’s gained a lot of acclaim for the small-scale worlds she constructs, often featuring snails. Yes, really. The duo creates surreal, kitsch-looking domestic settings from pink ’80s bedrooms to the ‘Snail Salon’ (see what she did there?). For our Christmas campaign, we wondered what worlds Aleia could create for the big personalities that are Lulu’s bags. We caught up with her to find out more.
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR YOUR DESIGNS COME FROM?
We wanted to create dreamscapes inspired by the bags, featuring bright and dramatic skies as well as cozy, sweet interiors. We wanted to create scenes that felt both strange and eye-catching, but inviting and warm.
COULD YOU TALK US THROUGH YOUR CREATIONS?
This project was a lot of fun to work on and a nice departure from our typical work, which is, oddly enough, much smaller than the sets we created here. Since we are photographing bags and not snails, we worked in a bigger scale. Instead of trying to create a ton of miniature details, we thought more sculpturally. Our challenge was, how can we create holiday elements in a more stylized, unusual way? So much of that came through with the colours. It felt really important to keep these monochromatic as well, so the bags are the stars of each set.
WHERE DID YOUR INSPIRATION TO USE SNAILS COME FROM?
Sam Copeland, my collaborator on this project, actually found snails about six years ago in his parents’ backyard. He brought them to Chicago and we kept them as pets. This was the same time that we started making miniatures together. We loved how the snails moved in their terrarium and introduced them into one of our scenes. We were instantly enthralled and loved how they made our work come alive.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR WORK?
The miniature work feels like a framing device for processing the larger world we inhabit. Sometimes the objective is to create a moment that I want to hold onto, sometimes it is a way of escaping. Other times, I get inspired by something special that I see and just want to try recreating it.
WHAT'S REALLY INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?
I keep a list in my phone of all these scenes I want to make. It helps me because there are lots of moments where I finally have free time and my brain is blank. I can’t figure out what to work on, so I will refer back to this list and select something. Often, there is a singular element that gives me the most inspiration to work on something. I’ll get inspired to make a booth in a fast food restaurant and from there I get excited to try making a miniature trash can. It’s usually a gradual process like that.
WE LOVE THE RETRO REFERENCES IN YOUR WORK. WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE ERA, CREATIVELY, AND WHY?
I love working with imagery from the 80s. I was born in 1989 so I barely inhabited these days, but I think I felt its presence in the toys that I owned and the spaces I inhabited as a young person. The ’80s has such a rich interior life: so much texture, so glossy, so colorful. But lately I can feel myself moving towards the late ’90s interior design, gravitating towards these sleek, fancy, white living rooms with DVD players and in-wall TVs. I’m having an American Psycho moment haha.
WHAT'S BEEN YOUR CAREER PATH SO FAR?
I studied painting in school. It’s been about ten years since I graduated, which is really weird to think about. The last decade has been filled with working random jobs, living in different cities, living back at home with my parents, living on friend’s floors. But slowly building out time, where I am, little by little, starting to make work. My studio used to be my old bedroom from childhood, it has been a three-foot counter space in Sam’s kitchen, and now our studio is in our basement in a little green house we are renting in a small town.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE YOU WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST?
I have always wanted to be an artist, but I struggled with the title for so long in my life. I didn’t think I could call myself an artist and really agonized over how I would ever “become” this. But I think adopting this practice with myself, of always returning to the work, of focusing on the work as a way of processing whatever I’m going through, has helped me identify with being an artist. When things are good, or bad, I have to find my way back to creating something new again.
LULU LOVES IS ALL ABOUT CHAMPIONING FEMALE CREATIVES, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
It shows in all that your team creates! And that’s what made me want to work with you all. I love all things colourful, feminine, symbolic and strange - and I find that to be the DNA of Lulu. When I find that in others, it’s like a moth to a flame.