Lola "The Young Vandal" Interview.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lola "The Young Vandal"   /   Photo John Midgley

When we saw the petite dark haired girl smiling at the camera with spray paint in her hand and a mural of a female skateboarder behind her, we knew we needed to know more about her. Little did we know that her name/nickname is Lola "The Young Vandal" (and you know how we love that!) and she is one of the coolest girls ever!

We had a lot to cover in this interview and Lola was a trooper answering all our questions, even after a long day where she did a guest appearance at the Apple store, and an even longer weekend when her latest mural debuted.

So let's get right down to it, because this is an interview that will make you smile, and inspire you to follow your own dreams, no matter what they may be.

Thanks for the inspiration Lola!

Can you tell us your name and age and where you live?

My name is Lola Glass aka Lola the Illustrator. I’m nine years old, and I live in Brooklyn, New York.

How old you were when you started drawing/painting?

I was six when I started spray painting, and I started drawing when I could hold a pencil, so about three years old I think.

Some kids draw but later lose interest. What do you think kept your interest in moving forward and onto a bigger scale?

Not a lot of people get to spray at The Bushwick Collective, so I guess that’s one thing that helps! Other than that, I just like doing it. I don’t really know why. I draw every day. Sometimes it helps me express myself, like when something isn’t fair.

What forms of art were you doing back then when you first started?

I was doing a lot of girl superheroes and drawings of girls doing stuff I like to do, like gymnastics. Sometimes I drew portraits of my family. I drew books for my little sister Phoenix. A page would say, “You go in my room, I scream,” or “You eavesdrop on my private stuff, my face gets hot,” with funny illustrations of my sister and me. I would read them to her, and she kept them in her bed.

How has your art evolved since you started – we know you do murals now - which is very cool - can you share how that came about?

Now I put more details on my walls and on paper. One thing is I don’t draw pointy, spread out fingers anymore. They look way more like human hands now! I take more risks on my walls these days because there’s more details involved. I do people most of the time, not animals like elephants and manta rays that are kind of easy, like I did when I was six and seven. People are harder. I also work a lot on the background. My first wall didn’t even have a background.

I was very lucky to meet Joe Ficalora. He is the curator of the Bushwick Collective, and he asked me if I wanted to join.

We always say “go big or go home” about skateboarding.  Sounds like murals may be the same thing for you?

Yes! I love the challenge of big walls because it’s fun, I get to skip school, and I get to use toxic art materials! I love seeing my wall finished because everyone can see it when they walk by. It feels super good because it’s like I’m contributing to bringing something beautiful to the neighborhood. My biggest mural is “Coney Wonders.” You can see it when you’re riding the Wonder Wheel. A lot of people ride the Wonder Wheel, so if they can see it that way, it’s Pretty Radical. ☺

You go by the name “Lola, The Young Vandal” – we think that has to be the coolest name ever! How did you get that – because we know there has to be a great story behind it! Please tell us, because as you know, we are all about rule breakers and game changers here at GN4LW.

When I was six years old, my mom, my sister who was a baby then, me, and my mom’s friend who was visiting NYC, went to the Bushwick Collective for the first time to see the walls. My mom’s friend had given me a spray marker and I REALLY wanted to try it out. I drew on every empty wall I could find. I was drawing a small replica of the Beau Stanton mural when Joe (Ficalora) drove by with another artist. He saw me drawing and screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!” I froze in my frilly white dress. After he talked with my mom and her friend, he approached me gently and asked if I wanted to be a part of the Bushwick Collective. Obviously, I said yes! Later, John Dominé wrote an article on me for Sold magazine titled “The Young Vandal.”

You are part of the Bushwick Collective – sounds pretty rad! How did you get invited to be part of the collective and what does it mean to be part of it?

It feels nice to be around artists I see all the time there like Sipros, Mr. June, Giz, Lauren YS, Dasic Fernández, and Franck Duval. They talk to me about how I’m doing and how school is going and ask me about what I’m painting. Joe (the founder) is really nice. He asks me questions about my wall and tells me the parts he likes about it. I feel like it’s alive there because of all the different walls. I feel proud when I’m there.

OK, we have to ask – we have seen photos of you with cans of spray-paint – how old were you when you got your first can and is there any secret street art (a la Banksy style) going on we should look for? ☺

On a beach in France, I painted a little portrait of my sister Phoenix on an old war bunker from the 1940s. I like to paint my “Peeking Phoenix” around the city sometimes with a spray marker. It’s kind of my signature. It’s my sister with big eyes peeking over a wall, with a ponytail that goes straight up over her head. The hair is adventurous and a little crazy, like she is.

We know that you are also a skateboarder –we love that both your passions are very “street” and different than a lot of girls – any comments from outside people about being a female in 2 predominately male worlds that to them, may also seem a bit “off the grid”? If so, how do you handle that?

Some of the boys at school have said that they don’t like my style. Sometimes they say I should draw things other ways. It bothers me a little. (But they like to draw death and guns, so…) I always say that everybody has their own style. When I’m having a bad day, skating to the subway after school makes me feel better. Staring at a Pusheen also REALLY helps! ☺ @pusheen

What advice would you give to another young girl reaching for her dreams if she has to deal with people who don’t understand or people who discourage her?

Skate, skate, skate! It can be soothing when you’re just rolling on a familiar pavement, it’s nice outside, and you know where to go, and you know what’s ahead and what you’re going to do. Find what you do best and DO IT!

Where is your favorite place to skate?

Golconda Skate Park in Brooklyn, aka the Fat Kids’ Spot. It has so many ramps.

Fav trick?

I like doing rock to fakie. I’m also learning how to do ollies and manuals.

Can you tell us about the board set up you ride?

My board is from The Pink Helmet Posse. It’s got palm trees on it. I have Theeve trucks and Sparks wheels and stickers from artists from the Bushwick Collective.

Is skateboarding your transportation of choice when heading off to do your street art?

Always! I don’t go anywhere without a skateboard. I take my penny board from Venice Beach when it’s just for transportation.

Your latest piece in Brooklyn (btw it’s huge!) features a young female skateboarder – is she based on a skater we might know? Or is she a combination of many girls?

Her name is June, and she’s inspired by Kody Tamanaha. The pose is based on a photo from page 106 of your book “It’s Not About Pretty.”

Your mom told us that the “It’s Not About Pretty: A Book About Radical Skater Girls” was also a source of inspiration – how did the book and the girls in it inspire you?

The poses are great for drawing, and there are girls in it like Sky Brown, who inspires me because she’s my age. I mostly only see boy skateboarders when I’m out. It’s difficult to find books about girl skaters. Dogtown is really popular, for example, but it’s mostly boys. There’s Peggy Oki, but they don’t talk about her much. I was really happy when I saw a girl at Golconda the other day! Anyway, that’s why I love this book. It’s one of my favorites.

Are you given a certain space or wall you work with each time when working with the Bushwick Collective? And if so, do you have to paint over your last piece to create the new one?

Yes and yes.

Is that always kind of sad? Or are you “on to the next”?

I miss all my old walls. It is sad, but I have to do it, so it’s also “on to the next.”

About how long does it take you to complete a mural?

Three days, about six hours each day.

We noticed that you really think it all out beforehand– notes, lists, colors, ideas - is this something you always do - or just when you do large murals?

I practice my drawings sometimes. I’m experimenting with a genie character right now named Cleo. But I usually just draw off the top of my head. However, with murals, I need to order the right colors and need to be sure where to put things. It’s easy to erase on a page, but it’s hard to erase on a wall. It’s not like you just grab a giant eraser. You have to repaint over your mistake with your background color and wait for it to dry.

Can you share with us some favorite artists whose work you love and that inspire you?

Sure! Besides the people I already mentioned from the Bushwick Collective, I like Hayao Miyazaki, Jerkface, London Kaye, Danielle Mastrion, Magali Le Huche, Mike Maihack, you, Lucy Sparrow, Raina Telgemeier…

We absolutely love the new Shepard Fairey documentary – do you have any fav documentaries on street art that you recommend?

“Banksy Does New York.” (A lot of them have mature language, so I have to wait until I’m a little older to see them, like 12.)

Favorite 3 books at the moment?

The “Scarlet and Ivy” series by Sophie Cleverly, “It’s Not About Pretty” ☺, and Percy Jackson. I’m not reading “Bone” by Jeff Smith right now, but it’s probably my all-time favorite.

Favorite Food?

Fried Chicken Buns from Bunsmith in Dekalb Market Hall. And pork dumplings.

Favorite things to do when not skateboarding or creating art?

Writing. I like to write comic books and novels. I’m working on a book right now called “The Ghost Club,” which is 20 pages so far. I also read a lot. And I love playing Nintendo games, especially Animal Crossing and Mario.

3 things people don’t know about you?

1. I sleepwalk. Once I even brushed my teeth in my sleep.

2. I play snare drum in my school’s band.

3. My cat Ollie follows me when I get up at night and attacks my feet. He thinks he’s the king of the jungle.

Lola at the Brooklyn Apple store during her guest apprearance

We just saw a post that you were at the Apple store doing a workshop for young artists – that is really cool – can you share how the day went?

I was really, really nervous at the beginning. My mom told me that the waiting is the hardest part, and I have to agree. They put a special microphone on me. After I sat down, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Everybody had an iPad with a sketch I did of my genie with no face, and I showed them how to pick pen types, draw and color, and use layers and undo. It was up to them to create their own face. It was mostly kids, but there were some grownups there too. Even though it was stressful at the beginning, it was fun.

What programs do you like to use for your art?

I use an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil and the app Procreate.

Lola adding the names of skater girls that inspire her to her mural

We love that you are all about inspiring other girls to be their best and you even gave shout outs to quite a few female skaters on instagram who inspire you. We feel that encouraging another girl or woman takes nothing away from our own success – you seem to feel the same. Does that stem from being around artists who championed you as you came up, so it’s natural for you to do the same?

So many artists have encouraged me: Jerkface, Joe, my mom, Cindy Whitehead, London Kaye, Danielle Mastrion, Lucy Sparrow, Dasic, Sipros, Franck, Lauren YS, Mr. June, Giz, Tracy 168, Chor Boogie. There are so many! So yes, it’s natural to me to give shout outs to other people. I put girl skaters’ names on the edge of the ramp on my latest mural “Splatter Void” because I felt like they might see it and know that they are admired by girls like me.

Any advice for someone who wants to follow her dreams on a big scale like you do?

My mottos are “Be a London,” which means be fearless, funny, never give up, and have a positive attitude like London Kaye. And “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Advice for girls who want to skate but are a bit intimidated?

Just do your thing. If somebody bothers you, I’ll kick their butt. Hard. ☺

Where can we currently see your work?

My new wall “Splatter Void” is on Scott Ave between Troutman and Jefferson in Bushwick. “Coney Wonders” is on a wall right by the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island.

Anything else coming up in the near future that you’d like to promote/share?

I’m designing some t-shirts for a Brooklyn clothing company. I’m still working on it.

You can follow Lola's rad adventures on:

Instagram: @lolatheillustrator


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