January 20, 2020
New York - I want to be a part of it
Illustrator Lola Marella: A Portrait
Lola Marella (Photo 0)

Born as an artist’s daughter and having grown up with pencils and paintbrushes between her fingers, Lola Marella perceives the world in colors and shapes ever since. For a while, Lola has particularly felt pulled by New York. Coming across a sketchbook her dad used to document his first big set out into the Big Apple in 1980 has kindled the wish for Lola to visit New York and graphically capture it as well. „I want to be a part of it, New York!“ was the mantra.

A different kind of travel guide

One year after Lola taking the sketchbook that holds her fathers drawings, perceptions and memories of the 1980’s New York, as well as her set of art supplies onto the plane in order to find clarification, we talked to her about her explorations and experiences during one month in the Big Apple.

Lola Marella (Photo 1)

How did you feel when you entered the airplane? What expectations did you have?

During the elaboration of the project, I made it my mission to not have any expectations towards the trip. I wanted to spend my time as unbiased as possible and did not plan anything in advance. Therefore - when i finally sat in the aircraft - I was quite expectant on what the coming month would bring.

How did this Journey differentiate from previous travels you did?

The journey especially differentiated from former trips by the ‚bigger mission’ behind it. I knew that whatever I will be experiencing will contribute to a yet unknown resumé.
On the other side, it did feel less like a regular „trip“ but more like moving to the city for a while. As I have been to New York before, I had the ability to confidently skip the common sightseeing, dive all in and „be a part of it“.

You say you did this project in order to find out, whether you „want to be a part of it - New York“. What is the result? Do you?

Yes, but probably not for ever. I still feel very drawn to New York, but I have also realized that there is several aspects that would keep me from staying longterm. Simply regarding the social system for example, I feel in better hands elsewhere. Still internally, I feel the urge to at least live and work in New York for a year or something. So let’s see when I will be able to afford that 😃

Tell us about the particular attributes that make New York special from your personal perspective. How are they different from the features your father captured and perceived in the 80’s?

Comparing my sketchbook with the one my father created, the aspects we considered recordable, are quite alike. For sure, the city has changed a lot over the past 40 years, but we were both fascinated by the frankness and easiness of the New Yorkers. Nowhere else did I receive so many compliments, nowhere else did I get involved in such interesting conversations and nowhere else did I make as many friends as on New Yorks streets. Moreover, both my dad and I are truly impressed by the architecture of the big Apple.

Lola Marella (Photo 2)

What is your opinion on the impact that photographic possibilities and Social platforms have on people’s pull towards particular places and cities? What other places and cities are you pulled to and why?

I think that, the better you get to places you like, the more fascinated you become. Nowadays, we are flooded with impressions through photos and videos shared on social media. Previous generation’s inspiration has been fueled by films, music or diapositives.
I personally wish to explore Japan some time soon. I feel very inspired by their culture and the aesthetics in japanese graphic design.

How do cities and places inspire/influence your work? / Do you travel to find inspiration?

Actually, I draw most while I am traveling. As soon as I get out of my daily routine, everything is new and exotic. I capture situations and experiences through my sketches. Whenever I open an old sketchbook, I am immediately carried back to what I thought and felt in that very moment.

How did you experience New York - does the city still meet the mythic expectations and fascination of the 80s? How has it changed in your eyes?

For me, New York still has this mystic feel to it. I mean, it is such a modern and gentrified metropolis and at the same time reminds me of previous decades on almost every corner. For example the metro trains still look exactly the same as on my father’s photographs, old storefronts and rustic pubs - all this really defines the magic to me.

What are your 3 favorite spots on New York? Why are they special to you?

The „Fat Cat“ - one of those rustic, keen taverns with live jazz music, boardgames and affordable beer - I love it!

The Broadway on Upper West side – in between 72nd & 100th ST - very nostalgic to me, as I stayed in this area whenever I went to New York. I love the variety of shops, bars, street stalls, deli shops and diners and: cats hanging around everywhere. So much to see 24/7.

Coney Island - the combination of a beautiful beach and the grotesque theme park in front of it always puts me down memory lane. Only one hour outside of Manhattan but so out of this world, I love to relax by the shore and watch people.