Leila [ lee-luh ] is an abstract artist and award-winning designer based in Boston, MA. Her surface pattern designs are born from remixing and reimagining her black and white ink drawings into bold, colorful, unusual patterns that muse on playful scale and color combinations alongside an exploration of rhythm and movement.
Her work can be found on textiles, wallpaper, homewares, book covers and other objects to surround yourself with.
The exploration methods that create her patterns have become a trademark. She is known for combining elements into surprising relationships, made from a meditative dream space, inspired by her curiosity about the universe, and with respect for what we can’t see. Leila’s attention to precision and structure, combined with her understanding of improvisation and movement, is the combination that creates her artistic signature.
When not immersed in shape, color and pattern, Leila spends her time crafting bluesy rock songs with her band Sensitive Subject, hiking the local woodsy loops near Boston, and raising two lovely and lively kiddos with her science teacher sweetie.
“I don’t want to be told what to see. I want freedom to interpret and let my interpretations evolve over time. I aim to create abstract patterns that are timeless and contemporary, that evoke a sense of play at the same time.”
“My process flows between craft and art, structure and play, rules and improvisation to form my path forward.”
“I let the drawings speak and find out what wants to emerge.”
These are repeating patterns collaged together using various elements including my sumi ink paintings and found paper, to be printed on linen cotton canvas 54" wide. I have included some visual representations of what it will look like as the finished textile.
This collection is based on murmurations in the natural world—traveling, returning, gathering as a group. How we move together has been so profoundly changed during this time. It is an exploration of more natural ways of being in community.
This work evolved out of 850+ abstract patterns that I created (almost) daily since April 2018. I remix and repurpose elements in different ways, trying to extract every possibility I can. I paint primarily with sumi ink in black and white, digitize, create the patterns, and then color boldly. The creation process is meditative for me, and it is my goal that these pieces are meditative to experience as a viewer. I want people to have meaningful experiences with my patterns, and I want those relationships to evolve and deepen over time.
What continues to motivate you to create your work?
I have a rich, secret inner life. A vibrant, weird, wordless, pictureless expanse. It’s where I’ve always made art from, as far back as I can remember. As I make my way through my life, I collect things that resonate for me—unintentional textures, randomly paired colors, unusual sounds, ineffable feelings—they all go into the pot. It has become a library to borrow from as I make my work. I don’t collect these pieces from conscious research, by going to a museum or studying, I collect more from hearing stories people tell, walking down the street, hiking in the woods, looking up, looking down, and remembering my dreams.
Who or what influences your practice?
I’m interested in contrasts and unlikely pairings. I pull things together that I might think wouldn’t work together—swooping calligraphic gestures paired with a found piece of tape peeled off the sidewalk. There’s so much hidden humor and play in the world around us and I love to bring that to life in abstract patterns.
How would you describe the mood of your work?
Many people describe my work as joyous, which I love. I want to feel joyous--it’s not my natural state, but I work towards joy through creating my patterns. The process of making is certainly my favorite place to be. The patterns I’m creating transcend time and place, they mix analog and digital processes, but you don’t know which is which. That’s important to me. I want my work to be a fun mystery you can walk into, a mood lift—when you see it, you’re reminded that there are multiple layers and possibilities.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an artist?
The most challenging part of being an artist for me is balancing the constant flow of exciting ideas for things I want to create, with the realities and demands of my life as a mother, partner, business-owner, living in a complicated body. There’s never enough time, money, and support, but when I take it one day and one project at a time, the work finds it’s flow and rhythm.
Tell us about something from your creative life that you are particularly proud of.
I’m proud of my persistence in developing my creative practice. I have stuck with myself as I define my artistic vision even when it’s not popular or understood. I’ve continually put work out even when I’m not sure what it is or where it’s going. There are so many accommodations I’ve needed to find for myself so that I can make art despite a life-long chronic pain condition. I can easily find reasons to stop myself because I’m afraid or uncomfortable, but I challenge myself to keep going.