Menu designed for the Women of Liberty campaign in 2018.

Luthiem Escalona, also known as LuLu, is a Freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer based in London. Born and bred in Venezuela, she moved to Norway when she was 14 to live with her dad, stepmom and half siblings, to avoid the current political situation in Venezuela. She started her graphic design studies at Kristiania University College in Bergen, Norway. After  two years she moved to London and finished her BA at the University of Hertfordshire in 2017. Her background is mainly print design, but currently works with digital design, and practices photography and videography on the side.

︎ How did you know you wanted to pursue a creative career?

My mum is an artist so at a very early age I was encouraged to explore my creative side, I always loved drawing and reading. I actually wanted to be a fashion designer when I was young, I was obsessed with Project Runway, but I never pursued it. My cousin, who is 3 years older than me and I really looked up to, started studying graphic design, and that really peaked my interest, so I decided to go to a high school in Norway that included a media and art program, combined with a standard program, so I could apply to any university after I graduated, but I had multiple creative classes that kids in other schools didn’t have.

︎What was your first creative job and how did you get it?

My first internship was as a Graphic Design intern at the in-house studio in Liberty London.  After graduating, I knew I didn’t want to move back to Norway so I started looking where I could do an internship. I didn’t really filter it down, which I think was a bit desperate, but I was at the time. As I was looking for design studios on Instagram, Liberty graphic studio popped up. They were looking for interns a few months back so I contacted someone called Maisie. It was my second interview ever, the first one being earlier that day, and I met these two women, Candy and Maisie, junior and senior designer. We got on so well instantly, I felt like I was talking to friends, just showing them my work. I started as an intern a couple months after and 3 months later I became a Junior Graphic Designer.

Photography mini zines, 2019

Photography mini zine series, 2019.

︎ Where do you work now and what kind of work do you do?

I still work with Candy but not at Liberty London. We currently work at Wool and the Gang, where we do all the campaign graphics, web assets, newsletters, etc.

︎  What do you like most about what you do?

Seeing your work live is always fun. I also love when people come to me with a brief or a vision they have in mind. Creating that vision for them and seeing how much they like it. It’s really great.

︎ How do you stay inspired, in such a creatively demanding job?

It’s hard, there are times where I go on automatic mode and design without giving it much thought. But I’m not really proud of any of those designs. None of them have made it to my portfolio or website. I’m really lucky that Candy, my colleague, encourages me to try new things and inspires me to push the boundaries. She reminds me to bring some passion and thought to my process. More than going through pinterest and behance, I feel most inspired when I speak to people who encourage my creativity, like my mom, Candy or my friend Silje. Who push me to explore ideas and we can bounce ideas off each other.

Self initiated posters and song covers, 2018—2020.

︎   How do you deal with money, as a business woman?

I still find this really awkward and difficult. What I find really helps is talking about it with my flatmates, who are also graphic designers. We met at uni and graduated together, so we are all at a similar level. I tend to run thoughts past them, and they suggest how I should phrase things, and more often than not I just like to have an opinion and reassurance. I find it helpful, as if someone has my back.

︎ What is your biggest fear as a woman or woman creative?

My biggest fear is being someone who dreams and doesn’t do anything to make those a reality. Just having multiple ideas and dreams, yet doing nothing to accomplish them. Staying stuck in one place, wondering what could have been if I was brave enough to do something about it.

︎ Feminism has achieved great things on the emancipation of women, but it focused on the masculine qualities in women (competition, ambition, logical thinking, clear results) so they could be seen as equal to men in this patriarchal society. Leaving women and men, orphans to their feminine side (passion, sensitivity, beauty, creativity) because feminine people are treated as lazy, irresponsible, indulgent.

In our obsession with results we’ve detached so much from experience that we’ve started to loose our morals and meaning replacing it with anxiety, anger and fears. Ideally both genders would balance femininity and masculinity, harmonizing between the two. How do you think we can implement more of our feminine side into our practice and our daily life?

We must try our best to avoid going on automatic mode and try and do what we really want to do. Use that font or those colours that have been in the back of our mind for ages, regardless if they are relevant or not. Sometimes risks like that are worth it. Also even when presenting work we should excercise explaining why we chose what we chose. Give our work some backbone.

More than being trendy, being safe, or doing what the client wants, can we all push the boundaries a bit more? Do more research into our work. Understand who we are speaking to a bit more. Really take our time to produce something that doesn’t only communicates and is practical, but can also be beautiful and emotional? I think we can. It might not be the most practical, but it will be more impactful.

  A—Kids in Tate Modern, 2017. B—Bus in Seoul, 2019.
C—Foundlings, 2018. D—Miguel in Buenos Aires, 2016.

︎ Is there a specific thing you do just for the experience, the feeling, rather than the result?

This might not be the best example, but I really enjoy having a cigarette in the evening, thinking of the day I’ve had, things I have to do, what I want to do, and disconnecting for 5 minutes. Now I just need to figure out how to do that without the smoking bit.

︎ Harvard published a study in 2015 (link) where they showed different pieces of creative expressions, designs, paintings, etc, to a group of subjects, both male and female. These were shown to the subjects individually, changing the gender of the creator. Both genders rated the work as more creative when they knew a man had done it. What do you think of it, or why do you think that is?  

It makes me so sad, when I read this article doing research for this project, it really shocked me. I find it really hard to understand. Maybe because throughout history most famous artists and creatives have been men, so we associate them with success?  Reading that article really fuelled me though, and pushed me to finish this project and really make it happen.

︎ Is there anything specific that you struggle with/want to improve in your practice?

I would love to get a bit better at asking for feedback, I’ve gotten better throughout the years, but it is something I want to improve on. I would also love to focus more on doing more research before a project, it is one of my favourite parts of my process, yet I’ve neglected it lately, focusing mainly on the results instead…

Jewellery Press Day for Liberty London, 2018.

︎ What would you want to improve about how you work or your workplace?

I would love to get a bit better at asking for feedback, I’ve gotten better throughout the years, but it is something I want to improve on. I would also love to focus more on doing more research before a project, it is one of my favourite parts of my process, yet I’ve neglected it lately, focusing mainly on the results instead…

︎ What’s your dream situation in terms of work?

My dream is to one day open a physical shop, and I can do all the graphics for it! A bit like Present and Correct, or Big Shop Friday.

︎ What would you tell your younger self, knowing what you know now?

I would tell her to stop comparing herself to others, just because people do it one way doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. Persevere and never be scared to make all those ideas a reality. Also please just ask for help. There’s no shame in that.

More of Luthiem  here:
@luthiem.escalona /