Lilly Piri

Lilly Piri interview


Lilly Piri’s art draws you into a floaty surreal world with its unusual motifs of deep eyes, cute love and little animal friends (like lizards, mice and beetles). Read more…

Your stuff feels magical. Like Alice through the Looking Glass…

It’s soft. In the work on my website, the colours have been slowly fading out. I really like drawing in lots of details, they make it interesting for me to work on. I don’t know where it is heading. More backgrounds maybe.

You seem to getting recurring themes in your pics… soulful faces, lizards, birds, hands becoming letters… why, why, why?

Well, a couple of years ago, I wrote a letter that I never sent, and the stamp had finches on it. That’s where the finches are from. I wanted to put everything from that time into a picture. Faces are nice to draw. The letters are sort of just meant to symbolize words inspiring actions, or people communicating to each other.


What influences your dreamy art?

Animals, insects, and funny-looking animals, and there are plenty of those where I live in Australia. The bible, storybooks, encyclopedias, all kinds of books. Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, a bunch of artists I’ve found online. Fashion & art magazines are really inspiring. I’ve got lots of junk/treasure/objects too, and i like to draw them. I also have an apple-rich diet.

Is it true you have a box of dead lizards and beetles and skulls you draw whenever you feel like it?

Yes! Haha. I moved “the collection” out of the music box and into a plastic container with compartments recently. All the insects are sorted now, but theres still tiny bugs that eat parts of them (the janitors!) The beetles are my favourites to draw.

Lilly Piri interview

If you have any pets do they talk to you?

We have one dog, Gilligan, and one cat, Sammy and one mouse, Bojangles Peep. And a bunch of fish in the pond. The cat talks only if it wants something but the dog talks more often, and if you don’t pay attention to him when he is talking then he gets louder and louder and louder and then starts to act like a psychopath.

Do you have any weird artist’s quirks?

Probably. Well, none that I’m aware of. I hate tomato seeds, but I don’t think that counts.

Why do you often pay most attention to the eyes when you’re colouring in your stuff?

It’s the first place you look mostly. People seem to either really like my stuff or think it’s creepy or scary & it’s usually to do with the eyes. (or they think guns and skulls & anything hinting at death is scary. )

Lilly Piri interview

Cute strange animals often appear in your work. Do different animals symbolise different things to you? If you could hang out in your own tiny kingdom which animals would you pick to live there with you?

Not in any sort of bizarre and personal way. I like to draw aussie animals when i remember to ’cause they don’t get drawn enough. I’d hang out with deer, cuscus, quolls, wallabies, tasmanian tigers, beetles, dogs, bears, foxes, cats, and GIANT catfish.

Have you ever received a really nice present in exchange for your art?


Is being an artist mostly nature or mostly nurture?

I liked drawing and my mum always encouraged me.

From your blog it looks like you have cool scrapbooks full of sketches you’ve done of people on the street. If you draw someone on a bus or at a cafe do you ask them first? If not, do they ever spot you and be all weird at you?

I’ve never asked anyone except family or friends! I’m really sly about sketching people. No-one has ever caught me. If you wear sunnies they’d never know! My brother thinks I shouldn’t do it in case someone beats me up one day. For this reason, I carry pepperspray and a large mallet.

You like to work on a pretty small canvas it seems…

Yeah, small scale for a lot of reasons, it’s fast(er), it fits in my scanner, cheaper to post & i love small things. I’ve done a few bigger paintings, but it’s usually for exhibitions. Amos, the biggest one, that i actually liked, was 90x60cm. It depends what I’m making it for. (Art for all?)

Is there a strong art vibe in Australia? Are you part of some kind of art school or community?

Not so much where I live, or not that I know of. It’s beach & surf culture! or, as my dad says “newly weds & nearly deads”. I don’t know if it counts as a community, (i guess it does,) I volunteer at the local arts centre every so often. I don’t think there is much here for young artists, though. There probably is in the big cities.

What’s the singular worst thing that’s ever happened to you as an artist? And the best? We want to hear about the heady joys and the cringing mortification!

Worst: Talking to a seemingly nice gallery assistant who put on a plum voice once she found out I was an art student.

Best: The exhibition opening for Enfant Terrible at Monster Children in Sydney. It was totally packed & I got to meet and talk to lots of nice people! That’s fun.

Which magazines has your work appeared in? How did they hear about you?

Not many so far but: Frankie, Black and White, Empty, Hot Press & a couple of books! I think I emailed/pimped my art to most of the people, actually. The only one i didn’t was Black and White and I think they found me through Empty.

Are you a tortured absinthe-rotted artist? Or more likely to do delicate tracings by a lazy river sipping a crushed ice smoothie?

Definitely the latter. Haha, I’m not into pain at all. Except, i really hate drawing landscapes or rivers or houses. I don’t mind painting them, but not drawing. I’d be more likely to draw the lizards on the riverbank.

Can poor people buy your stuff? On the internet maybe?

Haha, well, it depends on your definition of poor! They can probably buy prints. Once in a blue moon I’ll sell tiny stuff for relatively cheap (usually when my paypal account is empty and I really want something. Transferring funds is a pain in the buttocks…