Welcome to a new interview series: #SPREADTHEGIRLPOWER! I'll be interviewing creative girls I've discovered through instagram, with a focus on new or young businesses in the hope that I might introduce you to someone new. The connections I've made through instagram have been SO important to me and brought me so many amazing opportunities (and new friends!), so I'd love to help you make some new connections too.
To kick off the series I chatted to paper illustrator Cheryl Teo of Lulo who's based in Singapore. The piece of Cheryl's work that caught my eye on instagram was a little matchbox diorama of a swimming pool. The colours she uses are right up my street and I am known for my love of tiny objects so of course I was sold immediately and didn't hesitate to tap that follow button.
Find out more about Cheryl and her work below...
When did you start making paper sculptures and what drew you to the medium?
My first attempt at creating paper illustrations was for a school assignment in university several years ago. I made a series of 2D paper shophouses that sold things from bread to flowers. I can’t remember exactly why I chose to use paper, but that project really sparked my interest in the many possibilities paper could offer. So you could say, I sort of fell into it. I feel like paper and I have a strange affinity. I have played with it on and off throughout the years but never truly committed to it. It’s only recently that I realized that I always gravitate towards paper whenever I’m stuck in a rut. It’s one medium that has yet to wane my enthusiasm.
The versatility of paper draws me to it. I only started experimenting with three-dimensional paper sculptures last year. Previously, I was only dabbling with 2D paper illustrations. It’s a good challenge working with sculptural pieces and I’m enjoying the complexity of it. It’s amazing to see what kind of forms you can create with just a plain piece of paper.
Can you talk us through the process of creating each piece from inspiration to planning, to making?
I can't put a definitive finger as to where my inspiration comes from. But, I'm often triggered by children's illustrations, staged photography, creative films, stop motion animation and fictional stories. Whenever I have an idea in my head, I sketch it out quickly in my notebook and each piece takes shape from there. The planning stage is full of scribbling and sketching! The making process involves a lot of experimenting and construction failures, but the more I make, the easier it gets to plan the form of each piece and understand the nature of paper.
How long do they tend to take you to construct?
They can take around 5 to 10 hours, or more across a few days. It all depends on how elaborate the construction is. Right now, I would say most of my pieces are not that complex to make yet and the longest pieces take less than a week. I certainly want to be able to push myself out of my comfort zone this year and create work that holds more weight or involves more story telling elements.
What's the creative scene like in Singapore?
It has definitely grown throughout the years with many contemporary creatives given opportunities for creative exchanges and artistic development. Despite all that, I believe there is still room to flourish and we should allow for more discussion and engagement with the community. It will be interesting to see how we can create more sustainability for a career in the arts in future.
What inspired your business name Lulo and your instagram handle @captain.lulo?
I wanted to name it Leeloo after Milla Jovovich's character from the movie, The Fifth Element initially. This is something I have never told anyone because it's kind of embarrassing, haha! She's one of my favourite fictional movie characters; Leeloo was really kick ass, breaking gender stereotypes and basically didn't fit into the mold of your generic action/superhero. I guess I was looking for a name that embodied some of that strength.
Captain Lulo eventually became an alias that I started using for myself on my Instagram. Most businesses would separate their personal identity from their business. I just saw myself as an artist who is attempting to start a business to share her art with the world, so I thought I should just be the identity of my business. In a way, I'm like a captain helming this creative spaceship, trying to navigate my way through life!
What do you do when you're not cutting and sticking paper?
As I'm a freelance graphic designer and artist, I'll usually be working on various design projects or running art activities for the local community when I'm not playing with paper. In my free time, I also enjoy dabbling in different craft projects such as embroidery and sewing.
What are some of your creative goals for 2017?
I was quite determined to be a set designer or diorama artist for a period of time, I was obsessed with building miniature worlds. So, I hope to go back to my roots and start making more dioramas, this time with paper. 2016 marked a huge shift for me creatively, I decided to stop trying to diversify my work endlessly and to start focusing on creating with just paper. I realised with limitations, I was able to work better and I felt less burnt out at the end of the day. I also want to learn how to juggle making time to create and promote my work. It is something I still struggle with every day. The goal is to rebuild the way I work in 2017 and also celebrate all small accomplishments.
Who are some of your favourite creative girls to follow and interact with on instagram?
Oh, this is a tough question! There are so many creative girls on instagram that I am constantly in awe of! I'm inspired by @Lnnally and the creative projects she does with her daughter, this lady is bursting with creativity and I wish I had a mum like that growing up! The lovely girls who run @TinySupply have the cutest clay works in town. I love the surreal embroidery works by @.baobap. (1) and @miy_fufutaba (2). To feed my paper obsession, there's @lorrainenam (4), @bedroomdesignclub (3), @papierpapierpapier (5), @littlerayofsunflower (6). I could rattle on forever, but these are a handful that I can name off the top of my head!
What does Girl Power mean to you?
Girl Power to me means having empowerment and freedom as a woman to accomplish whatever we set our minds to. It's having the strength to stand up and speak out for yourself, to be resilient despite all odds, and to have the humility to accept setbacks with grace. Every girl should count and that means giving them an education which will empower them to take control of their lives. Unfortunately, not every girl is given a right to education globally. Girls deserve an education for their voices to be heard and to eventually eradicate violence and discrimination towards women. To me, education is key to development and freedom of choice.
I love what Cheryl's written about Girl Power, I think it's spot on. You can still buy one of my Girl Power pins on Etsy if you'd like to #spreadthegirlpower yourself!