Bright, positive and optimistic in a world that doesn’t always seem to help an emerging artist out. We talked to the energetic Londoner, Lillie Bernie about the abstract nature of her work, modelling alongside painting and the importance of Instagram for artists.
Lillie comes across as friendly, chatty, relaxed and open. A sharp contrast to her work. Her abstract paintings which convey her interpretations of human emotion are as nebulous as they are intriguing.
Lillie’s journey into the art world is emblematic of the DIY generation:
“I had a painting in my family home and people would always ask, “Who did that?” And I would say, “Me!”. One day my aunt asked me to make a painting, I made it for her and then put it on Instagram.”
That was the start of everything for Lillie. Her best friend asked if she could make her one too, which she also put on Instagram. From that, increasing numbers of people started paying attention to her work.
She’s thankful for the platform Instagram gave her. The plaudits and recognition of her work by others gave her the confidence to pursue art as a full-time career. It also helped her to connect with other artists who gave her contacts and guidance into the art world.
“Before I knew it I was in Miami doing a show, over there I did a live painting, which gave me more exposure. It was a continuous spiral and now I’m here doing it as a job!”
Although she admits her path to becoming an artist has been fortunate she has no doubts about her calling in life. “I’m doing this for a reason. You know when you’re supposed to be creative.”
Her work is bright, coloured and full of texture. Lillie uses emotion and takes inspiration from other people’s viewpoints to create her work. “I find it so interesting that you can have a conversation with two different people about the same subject and they can have completely different views on it.”
And although she has an idea in her head of how the paintings will turn out, she has to adapt due to the unpredictability of the methods she uses to paint.
“I just have to go with how I feel it’s gonna look the best. I learn best through trial and error. I can’t sit and paint tiny slow details. I like to be messy and free. It’s just my style. It’s how I started painting.”
Lillie talks about the negativity she has received due to her modelling career alongside her career as an artist.
“Some people don’t take me seriously, because I model, but I think it’s wrong for people to try and pigeonhole you as one thing. I don’t see why you can’t do two things. I express my creativity through modelling and painting. It’s not cheap being an artist. Modelling helps me to fund it.”
When asked about the London art scene, Lillie has strong views. She feels London doesn’t support emerging artists. And witnessed this first hand when her studio was closed down to make way for new flats.
“In Madrid, there are so many places to work as an artist for free. In London, we’re lucky with the number of exhibitions that we can see. But it’s difficult for emerging artists to get a foothold anywhere. Every studio I’ve been to visit say they don’t know how long we can have you for because they’re worried the council is going to shut us down and turn us into flats.”
Her plans for the future are busy and broad. She has some modelling work for international agencies and art shows coming up in April and Miami Basel in November.