Creative Guts

Izze Ardito Lebo

Episode Summary

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman chat with Isabel (Izze) Ardito Lebo, the creative behind Cheeky Neighborhood. Originally from Portsmouth, NH, Izze possesses an unwavering passion for creation as she works in oil painting, drawing, sculpture, rug hooking, and tufting. She recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada. In our conversation, we discuss the story behind Cheeky Neighborhood and her iconic star characters, the bias against some of her art mediums that she has faced from peers and professors, the difference between tufting and rug hooking and her journey to learning and teaching, and so much more. We also chat about her upcoming rug hooking workshop Creative Guts is co-hosting at Art Up Front Street in December! Learn about that event at Check out Izze’s cheeky work online at; on Instagram at; and on Facebook at Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show. If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Notes

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman chat with Isabel (Izze) Ardito Lebo, the creative behind Cheeky Neighborhood.

Originally from Portsmouth, NH, Izze possesses an unwavering passion for creation as she works in oil painting, drawing, sculpture, rug hooking, and tufting. She recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada. 

In our conversation, we discuss the story behind Cheeky Neighborhood and her iconic star characters, the bias against some of her art mediums that she has faced from peers and professors, the difference between tufting and rug hooking and her journey to learning and teaching, and so much more. We also chat about her upcoming rug hooking workshop Creative Guts is co-hosting at Art Up Front Street in December! Learn about that event at

Check out Izze’s cheeky work online at; on Instagram at; and on Facebook at

Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at

A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Transcription



[0:00:00] LHL: I'm Laura Harper Lake.

[0:00:01] SW: And I'm Sarah Wrightsman. 

[0:00:02] HOSTS: And you're listening to Creative Guts.

[0:00:18] LHL: Hey, friends. Thanks for tuning in to Creative Guts.

[0:00:20] SW: On today's episode, we're talking with Izze Ardito Lebo of Cheeky Neighborhood.

[0:00:27] LHL: Let's dive right into this episode of Creative Guts with Izze Ardito Lebo.


[0:00:36] LHL: Izze, hi.

[0:00:36] IAL: Hi.

[0:00:37] SW: Thanks so much for joining us on Creative Guts.

[0:00:39] IAL: Thank you for having me here. I'm so excited.

[0:00:41] LHL: We're really excited to chat with you.

[0:00:44] IAL: It's going to be awesome.

[0:00:45] SW: It's going to be awesome. First of all, for our listeners that just know nothing about you, you just give us an introduction, introduce yourself, tell them a little bit about you as a creative.

[0:00:54] IAL: Totally. I'll try my best. I just graduated from Mount Allison University with a BFA, and now I'm figuring out myself and also, what I want to do with my artwork, which my mediums include for right now. I feel like they're always changing, but tufting and rug hooking and a little bit of oil and acrylic painting. I used to say sculpture, but that was when I just had to take it for university sake, so I don't say that as much anymore, because I only made one thing.

Right now, what I'm mainly doing is teaching rug hooking workshops. I am also trying to do some art on the side and try to do some art markets, just really testing everything out as much as possible. Hopefully, finding that stable ground.

[0:01:49] SW: I love it. I think it's a good time in your life to do a little experiment today. Yeah.

[0:01:53] IAL: Totally. Yeah. I look at it that way.

[0:01:58] SW: I feel like, you just gave us a really good question that we can ask future guests who have a BFA, or an MFA like, what's a medium that you haven't touched since you were in school?

[0:02:07] LHL: Yeah. Seriously.

[0:02:08] IAL: Yeah. I mean, I'm trying to think. I have to say, sculpture. Because for school, you have a whole woodworking place and you have a welding area and a giant space. Right now, my studio is my childhood bedroom. Even with oil painting, I haven't done it, because it's getting cold out and there's not enough ventilation, and that stuff just scares me already, because I'm already inhaling just so much probably bad stuff. I unfortunately have to say, I would love to get back into it. Right now, I'm doing stuff I can do on my own, basically.

[0:02:44] SW: Yeah. That's totally a theme that comes up from time to time that some mediums are just, have a way higher barrier to entry than others. They require way more money, or way more equipment, or way more space, or whatever.

[0:02:55] IAL: Totally. Yeah, yeah.

[0:02:56] LHL: It's tough to do them all. When did you start creating? Have you always since a kid, have you always been making?

[0:03:02] IAL: It's so cheesy. Yeah. I mean, since I was a kid, my mom always likes to tell me how when I was little, I was selling paintings on the side of the Portsmouth downtown streets. I was –

[0:03:13] LHL: Oh, my goodness. That’s so cute.

[0:03:16] IAL: I was like, “Yeah. I guess, I don't remember that.” Yeah, since I was little and when I was in high school and it was time to decide what I wanted to do with my life, when I was 18 or 17, I was just like, well, I've always loved art and I've always been doing art. Let's just continue that and see how it goes. Right now, I'm happy I did that. I love creating every day and college really gave me that opportunity. I went to school in Canada, so it's not college there. It's university. People get so mad. That's all I heard freshman year. They're like, if you call it college, we're going to get mad. I was like –

[0:03:56] LHL: Wow.

[0:03:57] IAL: Really mad. They were like, “You can't call it that. It's not that. We're at a university.”

[0:04:01] LHL: Are there colleges there, or is it just that every upper education is a university?

[0:04:06] IAL: I think it's like, college is community college there. But also, not. But university –

[0:04:15] LHL: Is its own thing.

[0:04:17] IAL: Yeah. There's no Harvard there. They don't have any Harvard, I think. I don't want to be hunted on this, because I don't know Canada. I was there for four years.

[0:04:25] SW: A bunch of Canadians are going to come after you.

[0:04:27] IAL: Yeah, right? From what people told me, they’re like university is where we are now. If you say college, people will be mad. I was like, “Okay, I guess.”

[0:04:36] LHL: I love that. It's really unique.

[0:04:39] SW: One of my life regrets is not going to college in Canada.

[0:04:42] LHL: Really?

[0:04:43] SW: Yeah. My husband and I have totally talked about this. We go up to Montreal every other year or so. I'm like, should have gotten to McGill. Would have been so cool.

[0:04:49] IAL: It's really cool. I wanted to go to Concordia, only because I heard Chance the Rapper performed there. I was like, “Oh, man.” There might be other artists that perform there. I didn't go. There's 42,000 students. It'd be so insane. Yeah.

[0:05:06] LHL: That's intense.

[0:05:07] IAL: I went from looking at 42,000 schools, or 42,000 students to looking at – I had 2,000 students at my school. Such a huge difference.

[0:05:17] LHL: Mine had 200.

[0:05:19] SW: Oh, my gosh. That's crazy.

[0:05:21] LHL: That's a complete other end of the spectrum. Yeah, it was. It was actually less some years, too. It was a 187, or something like that. I went to Chester College, which has since shut down, because it was not funded enough.

[0:05:34] IAL: Oh, my God. How was that?

[0:05:37] LHL: It was amazing.

[0:05:38] IAL: Really?

[0:05:39] LHL: Yeah. It was really great. We had 80 acres of land in Chester, New Hampshire. We had a really nice campus, but then we had woods in the back that we could – there's a bunch of trails and stuff, but it was eight kids per class, maybe 10. I mean, it was very intimate classes, so you really got to know your professors. The biggest class was maybe 15 or 16 students. It was very intimate. You literally knew everybody.

[0:06:01] IAL: That's awesome.

[0:06:02] LHL: Which I think for someone who was a bit of a shy kid in the teen years, anyways, it was really –

[0:06:08] SW: It’s great. Yeah.

[0:06:09] IAL: It was very suitable, because I think I had the opportunity to get out of my shell and all that stuff. It was really cool. When people say 2,000, or 42,000, I just think, I can't, I'm just, okay, that's bigger than a lot of towns in New Hampshire. And it really is.

[0:06:28] SW: It's bigger than most of our cities.

[0:06:30] IAL: Oh, yeah. I can't imagine if I went there. 200. I thought 2,000 was small. I remember my friends telling me in high school, they're like, “Oh, wait. You picked that? That's a really small school. You might want to look back.” I was like, “Guys, I only applied here. I don't have a backup. I'm sorry. It's either this, or I don't even know. I'm at home.”

[0:06:53] LHL: Can I ask how your family was with you going to school for art? Were they very supportive, or were there some hesitation of, “Oh, what are you going to do after?”

[0:07:02] IAL: They were super supportive.

[0:07:04] LHL: That’s great to hear.

[0:07:05] IAL: My mom's an artist. She owns an antique store and she refurbishes stuff. Shout out, Ness. She and my dad were very supportive. I think, if anything, I was more like, what am I going to do after school? Still, I'm having those thoughts, but it was really nice having such a supportive system to help me push my dream to become an artist.

[0:07:30] SW: Wonderful.

[0:07:32] LHL: That's not always the case.

[0:07:33] IAL: I know. Yeah.

[0:07:33] LHL: I think it's getting better, but I think especially, yeah, I don't know. Maybe it's not. I don't know. I feel like there was before a huge misconception that there were just no professions within our field that were attainable. I feel like, since a lot of the world is more digital, maybe that barrier has been broken down a little bit, but I'm not sure. I mean, I'm sure there's a huge group that still thinks that it's a really risky gamble, but there's just so much that people don't consider that's within the realm, I think, that is huge.

[0:08:05] SW: Well, we talk about on this show all the time about how important art is to our lives and what a big part of our lives it is. I like to imagine that there's a world where artists can make a living wage off of art.

[0:08:16] IAL: Totally. I think it's really 50-50, because, I mean, even going to my university, it's like, you're told, and this is no hate on my university, too, because it's what they were told, I think, but you can either become a professor, or a curator, or this or that, but that's your only option. I mean, that's not really the case anymore. Cause like you said, there's so much opportunity with like, because we have Instagram and all these social media platforms that we can reach people never beforehand, but I still think there's just that group, I mean, going to university, I had people, close friends that were like, “Well, your work is not as hard as mine.” Which, fair enough, I loved my work. I'm like, “Yeah, you're right, because I love it. I get to do what I want. You're right.”

[0:09:06] LHL: What a pretentious thing.

[0:09:08] SW: They're just jealous, because they picked a stupid major.

[0:09:11] IAL: That's what I like to think. I'm like, “Well, at least I'm not doing that.” No hate. I mean, I understand from a perspective, I don't know. I think it's hard to see something that someone enjoys so much and not be like, “What? I don't know. It’s just, yeah.

[0:09:28] LHL: There’s this mentality that if you enjoy it a lot, then it's not really work. Which isn't true. You’re just smart enough to pick something you really like.

[0:09:35] IAL: Right. Exactly. I try to like, because I have, just going to university, I didn't just go to an art school. It was a liberal art school. There was psychology and science and biology and whatnot, which I'm like you, because I can't do that. It was just really interesting to hear so many people be like, “Oh, what do you think you're going to do?” It's just like, “Well, I'm going to figure it out. I don't know.”

[0:10:03] LHL: With drive, I think you can do anything. I mean, as cheesy as that sounds. It really is, you just – you carve a path out.

[0:10:11] IAL: Exactly. Yeah.

[0:10:12] SW: I don't know. I wish I had majored in something like art. I don't use my undergraduate degree. I'm in a totally unrelated field. I look back on it and I'm like, why would I pick a major with so much math and chemistry? Why?

[0:10:26] IAL: I don't know. I would never.

[0:10:28] SW: Terrible decision, Sarah. I suffered nutritional biochem and I don't even use my degree.

[0:10:35] IAL: I'm so sorry.

[0:10:37] SW: What was I thinking?

[0:10:39] IAL: Well, I think that's the case right now, too. I know so many people that are, or at least have told me they don't use their degree, or go to say, “I'm never going to use my degree.” I'm like, “Oh, okay. Well, first of all, the money.”

[0:10:51] LHL: I know.

[0:10:52] IAL: I’m just thinking. I mean, that's one of the reasons why I went to Canada, too, because it's cheaper there and it was a new area and everything. It's crazy. It's crazy. Hopefully, it will get cheaper.

[0:11:05] LHL: That was part of the idea behind this podcast. I went to a – it was a liberal arts college, but it focused on visual arts and writing. Many of the people I know who went to school with me don't practice anymore. Not even that it's not their job, but they're not even practicing it. It's because it is – it can be really challenging to maintain that drive while you have a day job that may not be in your field. We wanted to celebrate the people that are still hustling and making a go of it, because it's just fueling them. That was sort of the catalyst and then it built into all these other things.

[0:11:37] IAL: That's so great.

[0:11:38] SW: That's such a good point. My husband has a minor in art. He did painting and photography and whatever else in school, but he doesn't use any of it. Because it was easy to do it when you're in the structure of college. You were painting in a painting class and you have no choice, versus making yourself do it at home and you could be doing something else.

[0:11:58] IAL: I find it hard, too. I have moments where I'm like, “I don't even know what to do right now.” I'm in a roadblock. Yeah. It's interesting that you say that, because that's something one of my professors always said that half of the people in your grade that graduate with you are never going to do art again. They're never going to touch it. To me, I was like, life goes on, right? Life just gets in the way. That is so sad, because art is so great. I mean, I used it as fuel, too, because on my first day in his drawing class, he goes, “Well, half of you are not going to even graduate.” She was right. A lot of people did leave.

[0:12:38] LHL: They go into a different pathway, or something.

[0:12:40] IAL: Right, exactly. Which, he was right, but I use that as motivation. I was like, “I'm going to graduate, and I'm going to keep doing this. Just you wait. Just you wait.”

[0:12:49] LHL: Maybe that’s part of the intention of saying it to help other people.

[0:12:53] IAL: Totally. Well, when I was in Freshman, I was like, “What the heck?” I was like, why would I even say that?

[0:13:00] LHL: It sounds like a line from a movie. For a doctor's program, a medical program, or something a little bit more stringent or something.

[0:13:10] SW: That's what I was thinking, too. It sounded exactly like you're talking to a group of freshmen doctors, or whatever and you’re like, “Half of you won't even survive this program.”

[0:13:17] IAL: I'm like, “Wait, what are you talking about?” They should not be dramatic. It was very over the top. I used it as motivation. I thank him for it. I thank him for saying that.

[0:13:32] LHL: Yeah, I love that. I hope he's listening.

[0:13:35] SW: Yeah. Email him. Just a link.

[0:13:37] IAL: Yeah. I'm like, “Oh, here you go.” Our ratings in Canada just go through the roof.

[0:13:45] SW: We know your mom is a creative. We know she's an artist, too. We love asking our guests this. Is it nurture or nature? How much of your artistic, whatever, do you credit to your mom and exposure to art when you were younger?

[0:13:59] IAL: I mean, I would have to say it's a mix of both. Because it's not only my mom that introduced me to art and always put me in creative things. I just remember my dad putting studio jibbling on, how I was moving castle and Princess Mononoke. I'm probably pronouncing that really horribly. That was just a game changer. I was just like, this is so beyond amazing. I mean, he's just such a genius anyways. The guy who created, what's his name?

[0:14:28] LHL: Miyazaki.

[0:14:29] IAL: Miyazaki, yes.

[0:14:29] LHL: It took me a minute, but yeah.

[0:14:30] IAL: Yeah, I know. I was like, I don't also don't want to pronounce it wrong either. I think with a mix of that and just, I love animals, too. I was definitely a little bit of a horse girl.

[0:14:44] SW: Who wasn't?

[0:14:45] IAL: I know it’s my favorite animal, all through elementary school.

[0:14:49] SW: Exactly. If a horse wasn't on your birthday list every single year, I don’t even know you.

[0:14:52] IAL: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. I'm like, you guys are hiding that you’re horse girls, but I'm loud and proud. I love drawing them. I think it was just – I mean, I think it was also during school, I would doodle, because I was not good in school. Just growing up with a learning disability, I think it really helped comfort me in the fact that I had no idea what was going on. I was just like, “All right, let's just draw a bunch of horses on my paper right now. No one will notice,” which helped me along the way to now perfect it.

Yeah, I’d have to say, it's a mix of both. I owe my parents a lot for just showing me different things. I mean, I think we went to Europe and we backpacked when I was in sixth grade. My mom tried to bring me to those museums and everything. Of course, I was like, I'm bored. I don't care about this right now. Looking back, I'm like, why didn't I? Just take a look at those paintings a little bit longer. I was wearing a green tank top at the time. I did not have a care in the world.

[0:16:01] LHL: Oh, I love that.

[0:16:03] LHL: I would love to dive into your style. Because you have such a unique label and obviously, very cheeky style.

[0:16:11] IAL: Thank you.

[0:16:12] LHL: What influenced it and how has it evolved? How did you develop such a clear definitive voice in the way that you present work that also, I think, transcends your mediums?

[0:16:22] IAL: Well, you’re making me blush. Like I said, I've always doodled and growing up, too, in high school, I started, of course, like everyone who's making art try to go into realism and perfecting faces. Because I love drawing animals and people. I was horrible and I'm still horrible at drawing landscapes. We're not touching that for a little bit still. I'm trying to creep into it. It was basically after realizing that realism is not for me, I mean, I think I would – I think I got to a point where I was like, I do enjoy making this, but I almost felt bored afterwards.

Even during university, or college, I would make something I really like, and I would be like, I'm bored. This is no hate to realism art as well, because I think it's all gorgeous. I do look at it and I'm like, I still wish I could make that. I think it was that I started introducing realism in my own style, and it's this cartoonish, quirky almost influence that I was like, I like mixing these. That's when I started slowly walking away from realism. I do a little bit now. I still love introducing both of them, but I think my main style that I like is just drawing weird little animals and weird – I can't think of any other word than quirky, but –

[0:17:56] LHL: They're almost sassy sometimes. There's a little sass to it, like a lot of humor injected in some of your work.

[0:18:04] IAL: I mean, who doesn't love humor? I think it was when, too, during art school, there was a lot of push for like, why do you make your work? What message do you want to come across with your work? For me, I also have anxiety. I mean, I don't know who doesn't these days, but I have a lot of anxiety. I was like, okay, that's something that affects me day-to-day, so why not try to incorporate that into my work? It almost for me, just made me sadder and not enjoy it as much anymore. I almost feel like I was trying to fake it till I made it in this art world that I needed something almost “serious” with my art.

This is not to say that I think my art work is very serious, even though it's goofy, but I think there's I work hard on it, and I think that's what makes it serious. Obviously, to others, I think it's very much like, this isn't very serious work, which fair enough, everyone has their own definition. Yeah, I think I just – I started to put myself into these characters, and that's where this star series that I just had recently came from. I always sketch in my sketchbook. I started instead of just sketching me, I started sketching these little stars.

I'd almost create little scenes where I would be – like a scene at the grocery store, where I'm getting anxious to give the woman money, because I'm like, “What if I don't have enough money this week and I don't want to hold up the line?” Or something happened, as weird interaction with a stranger happened and I would just record that down. I started posting that on my Twitter, too, and doing a star a day. I really enjoyed creating these scenes. But Twitter's so weird. I was getting two likes. I was like, okay, I'm going to stop for right now. I'm posting every day. I'm following the rules. I'm posting at the same time, but we're just going to stop, because the interaction is not getting where it needs to.

I think my message now is that I want to make work that makes me happy and hopefully, will make other people happy. I think there's no wrong, or right way to make artwork. I think, going to art school, too, there was this whole speculation where if you're not making work about movements, or about things that are wrong, it was like, you're using your talent as a waste, which I don't want to be clear. I do not believe in that, because I don't do that. I think, I don't want to put out that I have anxiety. I do a little bit, but I also want to make it be a weird cartoonish star. I just think there's other ways that you can make stuff.

[0:21:02] LHL: Yeah. The purpose of art is multifaceted. There's many reasons. You can use your art for advocacy. Sure, but you can also use your art to help others with relaxing, enjoyment of life, calming their own anxiety without being heavy-handed about it, being about anxiety. There's so many things to do about that. I think especially in certain circles in the art world, that's a very prestigious and upper-crust way to look at it. It's just not realistic that everyone's going to be heavy-handed in –

[0:21:32] SW: Totally. I don't like the implication, too, that everyone should make the same art. How much fun would that be if everybody just made the same art over and over again?

[0:21:42] LHL: Exactly.

[0:21:43] SW: I really like when we take that pretension out of art, because art can be meaningful without being serious and people can be like, “Oh, it's not fine art.” Who cares? What does that mean?

[0:21:53] IAL: Yeah. I think there is just so many different worlds with art, which is great, but also, can just be harmful in a way. Because I had a woman come up to me. We had this like, it was our fourth year gallery studio showing. She came up to me and she was like, “So, how are you going to deal with people and your goofy art?” I was like, I don't know. I just am. I hope they like it. She just seemed so concerned. She was like, how are you going to go on doing this? I was like, “Oh, well. I am right now.”

It just is so interesting, because I do think everyone thinks, “Oh, no. You need to do this to be an artist. You need to do this to be an artist.” Anyone can call themselves an artist. There's art everywhere in our lives. Even liking a movie means you're an artist, you know what I mean? There doesn't need to be this title, or list of things you need to have. My professor is like, you have to get your masters to get to be – to do anything. I was like, “Well, not in this day and age. We got TikTok.” I was like, “I think I'm good.”

[0:23:08] SW: I'll show you.

[0:23:10] IAL: Yeah, exactly. I'm like, “I'll show you my one-minute videos.” Again, if people want to take that path, too, I think it's great. Because again, you get two more years to focus on work. How are you not going to become even a greater artist from that? To me, it was like, well, first of all, I was like, I don't want to go back to school. I was like, let's just take a breather, okay?

[0:23:33] LHL: The expense.

[0:23:34] IAL: The expense. Exactly. Well, again, it's like art is one of those things that is accessible. You can pick up a piece of chalk on the floor and draw something. That's art. It shouldn't be that you need to have this, this and this. You need to have these many materials and this. There's so much free access to education online. I mean, the school of YouTube and the school of Google. I think the two halves of what make art school really great is one, the instruction and the education that you receive, but also the community that you built with your classmates, because you get all this critique and you get all this learning by osmosis sort of vibe.

You can foster that in the real world and develop as artists working together without having an educational structure. Whereas, I don't know that lawyers can do that, or I don't know that plumbers necessarily have clubs where they work on. Maybe they do. Does anyone part of a plumber club? If so, call in now. Yeah, I think it's a unique area of education. I love school. Oh, yeah. I love going back to school. I take a college course here and there just to learn. I like that.

[0:24:48] LHL: Oh, it's wonderful.

[0:24:49] IAL: Yeah, so that's great. I also love to learn on my own, too. I think you can do both. I think it's also that I'm so stubborn when it comes to learning things. you couldn't pay me to go back and try to learn photography and tipping on the chemicals. I was like, “Guys, I thought this was going to be fun. This isn't fun.” I think it's also just like that as well. That's the part where I like, how being an artist can be messy and how you don't necessarily need to follow the rules. I've been tufting for this long, but I just recently found out that I had the thing flipped and I was actually tufting the wrong way for a full year. That's where I didn't look at the information and I am learning. So embarrassing.

One of my classmates and good friends, she came up to me and she was like, “I think you're doing this wrong.” She's like, “I didn't want to say anything.” I was like, “I wish you told me sooner. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? This is horrible.” Maybe it was an artistic choice to experience. That’s what she said. She was like, “I was just like, you do your thing.” I was looking, remembering all the videos I made of me being like, come tuft with me. It's the opposite way. People are like, “Oh, okay.” I'm like, “Why did no one comment either?”

[0:26:12] SW: There's probably so many people who saw that, too, and didn't know better.

[0:26:14] IAL: Oh. They're just like –

[0:26:15] SW: She knows what she's doing.

[0:26:17] IAL: Yeah. I'm spreading misinformation, too, which is so great.

[0:26:21] SW: Somebody reports that as fake news.

[0:26:23] IAL: Oh, yeah, exactly. They're going to –

[0:26:25] LHL: Just say the camera was flipped and it's – 

[0:26:28] IAL: Oh, yeah. I’m like, “Guys, I didn't do anything.”

[0:26:31] SW: Actually, that is so interesting though, your comment about like, oh, it's just a creative choice, or whatever. Could totally prevent someone from being like, “Hey, just so you know, if I give you this tip, it could be helpful.

[0:26:41] IAL: Totally, totally.

[0:26:43] SW: Versus, I don't want to step on your creative freedom. You do it however you want.

[0:26:48] IAL: That's very sweet of her, too. Because she's like, you're having fun. I still made the rugs. I just was making them hard. It was just harder for myself. I was like, why is this so hard? I was just torturing myself slowly.

[0:26:59] LHL: Were you so happy that first time you flipped around and was like, “Yup, that's easier”?

[0:27:02] IAL: Oh, yeah. It was a game changer. I was like, okay, well. I was like, well, this is so much different. It’s basically like a canvas frame. I had it, so that it was – the tufting gun, it's like a drill almost. Instead of pointing it into the monks' cloth, it was going against it. I was standing behind the frame instead of in front of it. I was like, “Why is this monks' cloth moving so much?” I was like, “I don't understand.” I was like, “Well, I guess that's just what it –”

[0:27:34] LHL: It's persnickety.

[0:27:35] IAL: Yeah. I'm like, “I guess, that's just part of it.” Then when I went on the other side, I was like, “Oh, now I get it.”

[0:27:41] SW: Oh, my gosh. I've totally seen videos of tufting. I don't really understand how it works though, because it just looks like magic to me.

[0:27:50] IAL: Because I felt the same way. I was like, this is so scary. It took me so long to actually get it. I got it, because Crackskull’s was having – they had art on the wall. This was my first community art involvement, because going to school, I was like, I'm doing enough, but I really wasn't. Looking back, I wish I was putting more artwork out there. I didn't feel like, I don't know, good enough yet. I went up to the owner and she emailed me back and she was like, “We'd love to have you totally come and do this.” I was like, “Oh, my God.” I was so excited. I was like, “Okay, I need to get a tufting gun, because I need to make work that has a rug in it.” It worked.

It was horrible. I was waitressing at the time, so it was like, I would go from waitressing to tufting, to sleep. It was just like, I was so exhausted. Because tufting, what it is, it's like, it can be straining, because you're holding basically a drill. It's basically two pairs of scissors and thread in between them, and then just poking it into the monk's cloth. I try to do as quickly as possible, because I want it to be over with, almost. I love it, but it's also so draining. It's also very loud, too. It's like, you're holding this heavy piece of machine. You're going up, down, up, down. You're putting it at weird angles. Yeah, my body was destroyed.

I was in time for the show where it was so chill afterwards. I was like, okay, well, this was insane to do last minute, but I made it work. It's an investment. I will say, that's why I'm teaching these rug hooking workshops, because that's how I got into rug, or tufting. The same friend who didn't tell me about the tufting frame was making rugs. Her artwork's very silly, too. I was like, “This is so cool.” It's not just like a drawing, which to me didn't feel enough weirdly. I was like, my sketches aren't enough. My weird little characters aren't enough. If anything, I'd paint them and that wouldn't feel enough as well.

As soon as she taught me, I was like, this is amazing. It's like transforming these characters even more and making them fuzzy and fun. Then I did tufting, which again, it was expensive, but it was worth it. I hopefully will teach tufting one day, but that's going to be an even more expensive investment that I'm like let's wait a little bit longer until I can actually run that. Yeah.

[0:30:30] LHL: Can I ask a question that I don't know if it is, would be considered insulting, or not.

[0:30:35] IAL: No, go right ahead. I can't wait to hear it.

[0:30:38] LHL: Are these pieces – you’re creating rugs. Are they to be hung on the wall, or are they to be used, or both?

[0:30:44] IAL: Okay. This is so funny that you asked that. Because for me, I want it on the wall, right? I made this. I want –

[0:30:51] LHL: Display.

[0:30:52] IAL: Display, right? Exactly. Also, that's how you, I don't know, treat art. I'm always like, paintings go on the wall. Sculptures, whatever. You can do anything with sculptures. I was like, but rugs, what do I do? With rug hooking, I always put it on the wall, because it's pretty fragile and you're just looping it. It can fray and –

[0:31:15] LHL: Sometimes you’re like –

[0:31:16] IAL: Exactly. It's not a rug. it's a rug, but it isn't. But with tufting, you can be a little more rough with it. You can put it on the floor. I made my friend a Jordan rug, and she has it on the floor. She actually sent me a video yesterday. She just got a cat. She sends me a video of the cat scratching it. She's like, “Is this okay?” I was like, “Get that cat off that rug. That cat's destroying it right now.” It was just so funny, because the cat's going ham, just scratching at it, doing a little cat thing. I was –

[0:31:52] LHL: Just making biscuits, mom.

[0:31:53] IAL: Just making biscuits, exactly. But tearing it apart. She's like, “Is this fine?” I was like, “Please, please don't ever let it – don't ever let it near it again. It cannot touch it.” It also depends, too, because if it's – I've made six-foot long rugs before. That can't go on a wall easily. It's going to tear down the paint. For that, I do put them on the floor. My boyfriend, too, he's always like, “They need to go on the floor.” I was like, “No, they don't.” I was like, “They might be a rug, but they're also not a rug.” Honestly, as soon as – if I give it to someone, I'm like, “You can do whatever you want with this.”

[0:32:29] LHL: Dealer’s choice at that point.

[0:32:30] IAL: Yeah. I'm like, “It is yours. I don't care if you burn it, it's yours.”

[0:32:35] SW: Oh, man.

[0:32:37] LHL: That's interesting, because we just recorded a little promo for your workshop. That's going to be coming out. I said two things that I think are incorrect now, in a way. Well, actually, no. You said, tufting was the one with the gun, right?

[0:32:50] IAL: Yes, tufting was with the gun.

[0:32:51] LHL: Okay. I said something about the event being an exciting yet relaxing thing. When you were describing tufting, I was like, that doesn't sound as relaxing, but that’s –

[0:33:00] IAL: Oh, rug hooking. That's relaxing.

[0:33:03] LHL: Then, the second thing I said was something about like, form and function. Creating something that's design and art, but also usable, but that may not be the case, necessarily, depending on – 

[0:33:14] IAL: I mean, people make pillows with that. I think it's also just depending on the yarn you're using. In my workshops, I use acrylic yarn, because it's the most accessible. I love acrylic. I can just go to Michaels when I want to make something, and it's there. Exactly. I don't have to wait. When I was up at school, it was a 40-minute drive to Michaels, so I was like, I'm never waiting again. I'm never waiting again. I'd have to get so much yarn, and just hope that I didn't forget anything. I mean, I think if you're using wool, and even harder, more durable yarn, I think then, yeah, you could put it on the floor.

Also, it really just depends, too, how you're setting it up. With a pillow, obviously, it has a backing to it, so it's not as easy. It can't be destroyed as easily. Versus with my rugs, and during the workshop, I put felt on the back. I give everyone a piece of felt. With that, you can put it on the floor, but just be aware that it might pray, or you might have to clean it up a little bit. Again, it’s just an excuse to make another one.

[0:34:26] LHL: That's awesome.

[0:34:26] SW: That's true.

[0:34:28] IAL: If you want on the floor, just make another one.

[0:34:33] LHL: That's really neat. I'm glad I asked, because I think I don't know what – I guess, I was just assuming it would, but then I was like, well, but if you do a really intricate thing, you want to make sure that it isn't temporal art.

[0:34:44] IAL: Right, exactly.

[0:34:47] SW: I really like when, especially for you, because you do so many – Laura's very much an interdisciplinary artist who touches every medium. I really like when we have somebody on the podcast who does something that we don’t really know.

[0:34:59] LHL: I haven't done. Yeah. I love being exposed to new things like this. I think it's really neat. Karla on our board does felting. I've never worked with felting.

[0:35:09] SW: Felting is another one that I think looks like magic. You stab it and it – No, that makes no sense to me.

[0:35:14] IAL: I don't know what it is either. I still think it's magic, too. My bar is very low. I think sewing's magic. I'm like, you know how to sew your magic? I cannot do that.

Yeah, it's exciting. I think Canada, especially Nova Scotia is so big for rug hooking. They have multiple artists from there. It's a huge thing. Then coming back here, it's like, not many people know how to do it and know about it. I found the goal. I'm like, I hit the jackpot, because now I can teach people.

[0:35:43] LHL: Yeah. I love it.

[0:35:47] IAL: It's an exciting form of medium, which is, I see it as exciting that people can also just do it. It's not like some oil painting, where it's like, you have to know this, this and this, which I don't know that much –

[0:35:59] LHL: Really expensive.

[0:36:01] IAL: It's expensive too. Whereas this, all you need is a crochet hook, embroidery hoop, burlap, and yarn. It's easy. You can take it wherever you go. It's just fun. It's not hard. I just really enjoy teaching people how to do it. I think it's great. I'm hoping to – I know it's around here. Obviously, I'm not the first person. I'm like, guys, I invented this. I think it's cool. For my age group, especially who I feel I'll tell my friends about this and they're like, “Wait. What do you mean? What are you making?” I'm like, “Well, I just feel cool telling you about it, too.”

[0:36:42] SW: I love that. I also love that young people, particularly women, have brought back grandma crafts as cool.

[0:36:49] IAL: Totally. Crocheting is cool. I don't know how to do it, though. It's so hard. I think it's so hard.

[0:36:58] SW: I also cannot crochet, or knit. I've tried so many times. I had so many different people show me and it just doesn't –

[0:37:03] LHL: It's hard. I can knit, but only knit. I can't purl, or do any other stitches. My mom can. She would knit dolls and stuff when we were kids and everything. Yeah, it was just like, wow. A lot of patience. You said something about, oh, what was it about? About following directions. What medium were you talking about?

[0:37:26] IAL: I mean, I was talking about photography.

[0:37:28] LHL: Oh, photography. Yes.

[0:37:31] IAL: I feel that way about cooking and then crochet. A lot of these certain crafts are sewing, like there is a definitive right and wrong way to do it. In certain circumstances, you can experiment and you can go outside the lines, but it's a little bit harder as far as really going off the rails than with other types of mediums, perhaps. I gravitate towards the ones where you can really go wild, I think, too, in a way, because that's why I'm not the best cook.

[0:37:58] LHL: Well, me neither.

[0:38:00] IAL: Well, I think that's why I fell in love with it too, because it's so simple. But yet again, you can experiment and I always tell people during the workshops, a lot of my work is I tell them the rugs that I make are very cartoonish. I'm like, I treat it like I'm making a painting and I'm just coloring it in. My lines and loops are very consistent. I'm like, “Guys, go crazy. Bring the loops up. Make texture.” There's so many different things you can do. Yeah. I haven't followed that rule yet. I'm like, guys totally do it, and I just haven't done it yet.

[0:38:37] SW: I cannot wait for your workshop.

[0:38:39] LHL: I know. It's going to be so great. I'm asking all these questions that you're going to say at the workshop, but is it like cross-stitch where you have a pattern that you've already predetermined?

[0:38:49] SW: I was wondering that, too.

[0:38:51] IAL: Yeah. For again, you can do what you want. What I always do is for the workshops, I have the burlap out, but I have a design on it. I just recently had one and I did Halloween designs. I did a little ghost kitty. I'm actually making a rug cooking ghost kitty that looks like my cat. I'm like, “Ah, Halloween.” I'm getting really into it. Basically, for me, it's easier to follow a design. Because I feel like it's almost painting where you don't have – where you didn't draw anything underneath, which can be really hard.

[0:39:25] LHL: Wicked.

[0:39:25] IAL: Especially when first starting out, it can be frustrating. I always put a design out. Then I also bring a projector that if people later on, after they test it out, they can trace on their own design. Because the cool thing about burlap is you just flip it and the other design is gone. Yeah. I'm always like, there's an option, too. If you don't like my design, I won't take offense. Let's trace something you want to do. I suggest it. I think rug hooking can be frustrating. But once you get past that initial step, you're like, “Oh, okay. I get it. This makes so much sense. Now I can just start going ham.”

[0:40:07] SW: Oh, that's so interesting. Now, I'm really excited because cross-stitch is something I do have experience with. In a way, it seems similar. I can't wait to compare and contrast. Listeners, I will report back after the workshop.

[0:40:21] IAL: See, I don't know that much about – I think I have an idea of what cross-stitching is, but you couldn't put me in front of a room and try to teach it. I'd be like, okay, guys let's just go into this. You'll have to let me know, too, because I'm curious.

[0:40:34] SW: We'll definitely talk. This is to be continued in December. Actually, you'd probably love cross-stitch. 

[0:40:36} IAL: Well, embroidery, too, I've always seen my friends do and I'm like, “That looks so fun.” I've always just been like, next time, next time.

[0:40:49] SW: I specifically like arts that you can do while sitting on the couch and watching TV, or whatever.

[0:40:54] IAL: You're going to love rug hooking, man, because that's what it is. That's basically what it is. People always ask like, oh, because you don't tie the loop in the back. There's no “security.” People are always like, “Well, what if I just pull it? Is it just going to fall apart?” I was like, “Well, let me tell you, I've done that so many times, because I'll be watching a movie and I'll get so upset,” or my cat will jump on my burlap and I'll be like, “Get off.” I'll just mess up a line, basically. That's all it really does. It's one of those things that you can do while watching a movie or TV show.

[0:41:29] SW: Love that. Super cool.

[0:41:36] LHL: You mentioned some on your website. I just wanted to state for the listeners.

[0:41:40] SW: Yeah, I love it, too.

[0:41:43] LHL: You write, delving into comical and unsettling aspects of human experiences. Man, that is just such a great sentence.

[0:41:50] IAL: Thank you.

[0:41:51] LHL: Could you share a little bit? We talked a bit about putting humor and also dealing with maybe anxiety, or other tougher things. We touched upon it, but maybe just talk about that kind of storytelling within your work.

[0:42:03] IAL: Totally. Yeah. I mean, it's funny, because I feel like I do contradict myself, because I'm like, yeah, I only want to make happy art. Then I'll draw a cartoon where I'm like, man, I just am so sad. It'll just be something unsettling. I think it's also for me, it's also just a comfort. Art is so comforting for me. I think that's what it is. It's like, I'm releasing it. I’m like, okay, I like what I drew, because I was feeling uncomfortable. I like the message it portrays, so I'm going to put it out there. I think it's also just humor and unsettling things just go, they've always gone hand in hand. It just works. I don't know. I think for me, it's just one of those things that I put together, where it's like, we can talk about situations that are uncomfortable and just laugh about it, because –

[0:42:57] LHL: It helps you get through.

[0:42:59] IAL: Exactly. Even if it's small. Again, it's like, I'm going to the grocery store and I'm going, “Okay, I really hope I have enough money.” That's unsettling. Again, it's funny, because I'm like, it's going to be so embarrassing for me. I’ll be like, “One second. Let me get out of my car. Let me call my dad real quick.” It's just stuff like that that I think – also, it's just nice to talk about, because again, anxiety is one of those things that's like, even if people don't identify as having anxiety, we all have a little bit. It's nice to also just show someone this, or even talk about it and have someone go, “Okay, I feel the exact same way.” Even just with social anxiety, which I think is the best thing to make fun of, because I have this social anxiety. I think it's just hilarious, the thoughts that I have. I'm just like, why am I even thinking that?

First of all, you totally cannot tell. Second of all, I hide it a little better. Second of all, you can totally have a whole stick, like the New Yorker could hire you could be their cartoonist, where you have a whole series of little star dudes having their social anxiety. I was like, “Twitter, come on. Give me that. I want those views.” Because I would do that in such a heartbeat. I've always, I don't know, it's weird. I love making scenes and everything. If I try to lay down lines for a comic book, I just can't. I give up. It's the weirdest thing. I can't do it. These little scenes, I love doing it. It's either I just need to push through and be like, “Come on, come on.” Because I want to make zines. Zines are so fun. I have this zine that I made. It's like, I made the first one and I'm like, well, that's good enough. We'll just revisit that later.

[0:44:43] SW: I would buy one.

[0:44:45] IAL: Thank you.

[0:44:48] SW: You have a comic on your website in the drawing section. I read it and I was like, “Yeah, I want more of that. I want more. I want more.” It's a little star dude waking up in the morning, going to class. I'm like, “I want that.”

[0:44:59] IAL: That was for Twitter.

[0:45:01] SW: I love it.

[0:45:02] IAL: It's so funny. Because I was like, okay, what else can I do to get these views? I was like, “Come on.” Even now, it’s not even Twitter. It's X. Sorry. The misinformation.

[0:45:11] LHL: The whole thing is just honestly tanking. I wouldn't stress too much about having success there or not. Because it is just –

[0:45:18] SW: I deleted my Twitter. I was done. I don't go on it at all.

[0:45:23] IAL: See, I have the perfect algorithm where it's just artists and cat pictures. I'm like, I love this. It’s going to get ruined one of these days. I'm just going to accidentally click on now. It's going to be like, “Oh, you want more of that? Let's go.” I know. It's sad, because I –

[0:45:40] LHL: It was a good community way back when.

[0:45:41] IAL: Totally. It's so weird now. It was one of those draw your days. It's draw your day. I was like, “Let's do this. This is going to be the thing that gets me views.” I think I got 50. I was like, “Damn it.” I loved making it. It was so fun.

[0:45:58] SW: I was actually going to ask you if you do anything like a Drawtober deal, where it's a daily challenge.

[0:46:04] IAL: See, I've always started those things from, “Hey, guys. I'm going to post every single day.” Then I literally post twice. It's like, this is embarrassing, but I'm never doing that again. Sorry. I just dropped off the face of the earth. I think, I really respect artists who can do ink octo – or was it?

[0:46:20] LHL: Inktober,

[0:46:23] IAL: Right. Because for me, it just adds so much pressure, too. What if I just can't draw that day? I have art blocks multiple times. Especially now, which I'm like, ooh, got to deal with that. I have so much respect. I wish I could do it. It would be like, “All right, here's one post.” Then a month later, here's another, when I felt like it again.

[0:46:43] SW: I can totally relate. I did it two years ago, and I did one, two, day seven. That was it. 

[0:46:45] LHL: There's only been two years that I did every single day. I posted my work every single day.

[0:46:56] IAL: That's awesome. Look at you.

[0:46:58] LHL: I think the only way I got – I haven't done it in a while though. I've done the whole hopscotch around. I think I had the mentality that what I was putting out wasn't perfect and it was totally fine. They were sketches, or they were loose ink drawings. They weren't finished pieces, and that allowed me to break through the perfectionist side of me. Of the 31 days of October, five became prints that I sold routinely that I loved.

[0:47:23] IAL: That is so awesome.

[0:47:25] LHL: I did some foxes. I did –

[0:47:27] SW: The banana bread.

[0:47:28] LHL: The banana bread one. The ghost meet-cute. There's a few that I'm just like, I love them and I remember that time of my life when I made them. But then now, you get busy, you get stretched thin. It's not always – but then, I'm like, okay, I'll give myself permission to do three a month and that's fine. For October, the drawtober this year is only six a month. It's like, you have four days to do a moth bit library and overgrown cemetery. They're all spooky themed. Even that, I still can't get it all done on time. We had events last week. I couldn't even draw. It's tough. I would like to try by the end of October to do them if possible. It's sort of tough.

[0:48:09] IAL: I think it's smart. Like you said, you had artwork that came out of it and it all is artwork. It's like, again, you should be drawing every day. I think it's –

[0:48:19] LHL: I’d love to get there.

[0:48:20] IAL: Totally, right? You just get better and better and you're keeping the creative flow going. Yeah, it's awesome. I just can't do it.

[0:48:30] SW: I know. There's also a very neurotic part of myself that I'm not proud of at all, but would be annoyed that it ruined my Instagram grid. Now I've got 30 posts in a row of a black and white drawing. Come on.

[0:48:41] LHL: I think that's a symptom of the way it is now though. Because five years, six years ago, when I was doing it, I didn't care what. It was just like the wild, wild west of whatever, lots of works in process, lots of whatever. Now, it's like, I think very carefully and the whole stupid algorithm. I really want to get away from that and just plop whatever I do right back in there. That’s like, who cares? There's the goal, I guess.

[0:49:09] IAL: I'm the same exact way. I'm like, well, my Instagram is looking pretty good right now, so we're just going to leave it and never touch it again.

[0:49:16] SW: That's a good strategy. Just never post.

[0:49:18] IAL: Just never post again. People are like, “Where did this artist go? They dropped off the face of the earth.” That was the only thing I did that was consistent was the stars that I post on Twitter. I had a cheat code. I just took pictures. I had so many of my sketchbooks that I just took pictures the day beforehand and posted it. I was like, okay, I need to draw the next day. I'm like, maybe if I try that again, but with Inktober.

[0:49:43] SW: Get ahead of yourself.

[0:49:45] IAL: Exactly. If you did have an off day, you could just be like, okay, I can post this. Again, I'm like, I can't ruin the ‘Gram.

[0:49:54] LHL: I think Inktober releases it three weeks early, too. Which defeats the purpose of it, which is supposed to be a daily challenge.

[0:50:02] IAL: Right, exactly.

[0:50:03] LHL: Is it for people that maybe need that extra time, or have events or whatever going on?

[0:50:09] IAL: Exactly. Yeah. I don’t know.

[0:50:10] LHL: It’s tricky. It's all tricky, but I respect it.

[0:50:13] IAL: I respect it so much and I love it. I love seeing everyone's. It's so fun.

[0:50:17] SW: I actually, sort of speaking of your gram, I really love your photography of rugs. I imagine it's hard to photograph a rug.

[0:50:25] IAL: Again, it was only, because at our university, we had a whole room that was just a white backdrop and I borrowed a digital camera. Now, I'm like, okay, we're going to post it on – we're going to put it on the grass and that's going to be good enough. Because that was the other great thing about going to art school. I love the community and I had so many different things, I could just go in and try. I'm so bad at printmaking. Can't do it. Our freshman year, we had to make sink plates horrible. Well, first of all, you have to put in acid and that's terrifying.

[0:51:01] LHL: That's very scary.

[0:51:01] IAL: I was like, I'm going to accidentally burn my finger up. I don't even know. It's toxic. My last year, I was like, I can't leave this building without learning how to screen print. My friend. She taught me. I forgot how to do it. Don't ask me, because I don't know how to do it. There was just everything there and it was easy. That's the great thing about art school is you can just go in and make and yeah.

[0:51:24] LHL: Yeah, I know.

[0:51:26] SW: Yeah. This whole picture here of the whole squad together –

[0:51:29] LHL: That's so awesome.

[0:51:30] IAL: That was the whole day of just like, all right, we're going to take photos. I was like, “All right, guys. Get in your poses.” I treat it like a whole little photo shoot.

[0:51:40] SW: Also, this one at Crackskull’s of the whole gang in the row between the books freaking kills me.

[0:51:49] IAL: That's actually at my university library.

[0:51:51] SW: No way.

[0:51:52] IAL: Doesn’t it look like Crackskull’s?

[0:51:53] SW: I totally thought it was Crackskull’s.

[0:51:54] IAL: Isn’t that funny?

[0:51:54] SW: In fact, I assumed that it was a class, the workshop that you did at Crackskull’s and that was everybody's rugs. Oh, my God.

[0:52:02] LHL: Told you.

[0:52:03] IAL: That was my “senior year project.” Senior year was – it's just, make stuff, guys. I was like, “All right.” I went crazy. I was like, okay, I want some photos of just them in a white backdrop. I also want to get them outdoors, interacting with space.

[0:52:22] LHL: In the wild.

[0:52:23] IAL: Right. Because I'm a horrible photographer that can't do anything without a white backdrop, I only got so many good photos. I actually went into grocery stores and cafes. I went into the liquor store to ask if I could. They're like, “No.” I was like, “Well, get out of here.”

[0:52:40] SW: That would’ve been hilarious.

[0:52:41] IAL: I’m like, “Can I just put one of them near a bottle, please?” This relates so well to it. I got into the library and I got into this Dollar Tree store where I took photos. The library is the only one that came out good.

[0:52:57] SW: Oh, my gosh.

[0:52:58] LHL: Do you use Photoshop?

[0:53:00] IAL: I do. Well, I mean, I can't say that I'm good at it. My photography friend taught me the little things you can do. 

[0:53:02] LHL: Because I was just thinking about the liquor store, or certain things that you want, it would be really cool to see them if you got photos from Unsplash or Pexils, which are commercial free to use photos. Then you could just Photoshop drop them in.

[0:53:20] IAL: Totally. Wait, that's so smart. I might do that. I don't –

[0:53:24] LHL: You could have them on crazy architecture and buildings.

[0:53:27] IAL: Totally. Oh, my God. I love that. It’s like a Godzilla moment on the skyscraper.

[0:53:34] LHL: Well, I think yeah, playing with scale with those would be really cool, because they're just amazing icons.

[0:53:40] IAL: Thank you. Thank you so much.

[0:53:42] SW: I need to know, have you ever had any reactions, particularly from professors, but just in general from people who are, “Mm. Penises, butt cracks?”

[0:53:50] IAL: Yes. It's so funny. Because to me, I'm like, that's whatever. Now that I run workshops, I'm more nervous. Because I don't want to offend anybody. I just think these things are funny. It's again, that whole thing with humor and humor can go so many different ways. If that's right or wrong, who knows? It was funny, because my advisor loved it. She was so for it. She was like, “This is awesome.” Was so grateful to her, because she really made me feel so special with these guys. She was like, “This is such a great idea,” because I was not only mixing rugs, but I also was mixing sculpture, because they can stand on their own. They're like a frame. it really was just like, boom, great idea. She was so supportive.

With other people, it's just funny, because I think at university, we each had our own studios, but we were all in one room. It was like we were separated by just walls. Everyone can go in and out, talk to each other. I miss that so much. Also, just having a studio. It was so amazing. I just missed interacting with everyone. When we had weekly critiques, we had to do every two weeks, a check-in every two weeks. You'd be like, “So, why so many penises? Just can you tell us?” I was like, “Well, guys. It really comes down to us just, it's funny. It's just funny.”

[0:55:22] SW: Stop looking for a deeper meaning.

[0:55:23] IAL: Yeah, there's nothing behind it, okay. I just think it's funny.

[0:55:27] LHL: Be sure it's not men who just want to be the stars of everything.

[0:55:32] IAL: I think that's the other thing, too.

[0:55:33] SW: Make so many –

[0:55:36] IAL: Totally. I think that's the great thing about this, too, is I made one piece where it was a guy. It was a painting. I know I didn't post it, because it was oil painting. I loved it at first and then I was like, “Wait. What did I do? I messed it up.” It was this guy curled almost in a weird, because he was curled up. Then there was just a bunch of little dudes with little penises around him. Everyone kept coming up to me being like, “What does this mean?” I was like, “Whatever you want it to.” Because I just loved the idea of people being like, it means this. It means this. I was like, it means nothing. It's just something I thought would look –

[0:56:13] LHL: It’s just fun.

[0:56:15] IAL: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I'm like, it means nothing. It was just funny. All senior year, people coming up to me still like, “Why this? Why are you drawing so many of these?” I was like, “I can't keep answering this. I don't know.”

[0:56:30] SW: For the lols.

[0:56:33] IAL: Yeah. Guys, it's a meme. Don't think anymore into it.

[0:56:37] SW: Oh, man.

[0:56:39] LHL: I hate to say it, but we are ready for rapid fire.

[0:56:41] SW: I know. I know. I know. It's rapid-fire time. This one, I want to show you. This one, I showed to Durkee and he totally lost his shit.

[0:56:51] IAL: Oh, I bet. Yeah.

[0:56:54] SW: That's one of our board members.

[0:56:55] LHL: Oh, my god.

[0:56:56] SW: An amazing artist himself. I showed him this and he was just like, “That's incredible.”

[0:57:01] IAL: I'm so flattered. That piece was so funny. Because during the same opening where that woman was like, “How are you going to deal with all this goofiness?” My friend's dad came up to me. I didn't know who – I thought I was just a random guy at this art thing. I was like, “Hi.” He was like, “So, what are you doing there?” I was like, “Oh, nothing.” I was so embarrassed. He was like, “No, that's so funny.” Then I found out it was my friend's dad. I was like, “That's so great. Great. This is just the part I need to accept.” It's so funny, because I'm embarrassed by it. When people ask me, “I don't know. It's just there. What do you want me to do?” At the same time, I'm like, “No, I love it. Let's keep doing this.” I'll post it with no shame.

[0:57:47] SW: It's like the scene in SuperBad, where he uncovers his box of penises.

[0:57:55] IAL: I literally – Oh, my gosh. That's what I tell people now. I'm just, what's his name? I don't remember.

[0:58:00] LHL: Jonah Hill’s character.

[0:58:02] IAL: Jonah Hill’s character. I go, do you know that character and how he just has an obsession? That was me this year. Sorry. I don't know what it was, but it just was.

[0:58:10] SW: Oh, my gosh.

[0:58:11] IAL: The music that went with it, too. So funny. It was all happy. I was McLovin last year for Halloween. I love Super Bad so much. It's such a good movie. Actually, people did not recognize me. I went up to all my roommates and they're like, “Excuse me.” I was like – I'll show you guys a picture. Wait.

[0:58:34] LHL: Oh, I can't wait to see it. That is awesome.

[0:58:37] SW: It’s so funny.

[0:58:40] LHL: We wind down each episode with a series of rapid-fire questions. We're going to ask you quick questions and you give quick answers. What artist has influenced you the most?

[0:58:49] IAL: Okay, this is such a generic answer, but I think Keith Haring. I love his cookie-cutter, just fun, random characters. How much life they have to them. I try to do that with my characters as well.

[0:59:03] SW: I love that.

[0:59:03] LHL: That's awesome.

[0:59:05] SW: What genre of music or other media do you listen to when you're creating?

[0:59:09] IAL: Okay. I love this. I love this answer, because music is such a big deal when I'm making work. I always have headphones in. But I love rap. I love Tyler the Creator. I guess, it's more R&B. Tyler the Creator. Kali Uchis, SZA. But I also really love Daft Punk. I also listen to classical music. It's such a weird mix. I think Daft Punk is something where I'm like, “Let's do this.” Go ham. It's like, I'm going for a run, except I'm painting.

[0:59:45] SW: I like to imagine them all on the same playlist, so you don't know what's going to come next. It's a surprise for your ears.

[0:59:52] IAL: It's funny, because I also do with classical music. I also paint with it. I'm romanticizing it being like, all right, classical music time, let's paint something beautiful. Then it's not. It's like the things of the day.

[1:00:07] SW: That's very like, I'm the main character.

[1:00:09] IAL: Oh, 100%.

[1:00:10] SW: Listening to classical music and you're like, “They’re making a movie about my life and I'm painting something beautiful.”

[1:00:14] IAL: Exactly. Oh, yeah. 100%.

[1:00:16] LHL: I love it so much. What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

[1:00:22] IAL: Oh, my gosh, guys. I have no idea. I've been thinking about it for so long, because I want to do something iconic. I don't even know. I was like, I want to do something funny because I did McLovin.

[1:00:38] LHL: I feel like a lot of people are going to be Barbie or Ken.

[1:00:40] IAL: Totally. I went to a Barbie themed party, too. I was art Barbie. But people were like, “Are you weird Barbie?” I was like, “No.”

[1:00:51] LHL: I considered being weird Barbie. I'm not going to be that. I thought, that's attainable.

[1:00:58] SW: Do you ever think about being Patrick Star because of your stars?

[1:01:01] IAL: It's so funny, because everyone thinks – that they're like, “Oh, it's Patrick Star.” I'm like, “No, it's not.” It totally is, because it –

[1:01:09] SW: Could be his long, lost relatives, but it's not him.

[1:01:11] IAL: That's what I'm saying. It's funny that you say it, because my friend, I was asking, I was like, “Guys, what should I be?” He's like, “You know what you could do? You could be one of your star characters. Then when people ask, it's like, you're putting your business out there.” I was like, “Yeah, maybe.” I was like, “How am I going to do that?” You know what? Patrick's not a bad idea.

[1:01:29] LHL: What's your favorite color?

[1:01:31] IAL: I think I have to say, this blue, which is like a light pearly blue. It's the same as my logo, kind of. I think. I don't know the actual. It's some weird number. It's like, H249, something like that. I'm like, okay, it's that.

[1:01:45] SW: Can you imagine if we ask that question and someone's like, “Oh, it's H249.”

[1:01:49] IAL: I would be so impressed.

[1:01:51] SW: I’m going to actually memorize it, just so I can say – I’m like, H2567. Duh.

[1:01:57] LHL: Amazing. I don't think I could pick one, like a favorite color if I had to do it like that. I say blue, because I like lots of blues. But if I had to pick one blue.

[1:02:05] SW: Right, that's hard.

[1:02:08] LHL: What's your favorite scent?

[1:02:10] IAL: Vanilla. I have a little vanilla organic perfume that I've had for 10 years now that I just do a little. I'm like, “We're ready. We're ready to go out.”

[1:02:21] LHL: Let’s go.

[1:02:23] SW: What's your favorite sound?

[1:02:26] IAL: That's a really hard one. I'm like, Daft Punk. The music. The robotic. Yeah, I have to say music. I'm constantly listening to it. Once I got my AirPods in, it was a game changer. My professor is like, “Izze, take out your AirPods.” We'd be working. She's trying to talk to me and walking right past her. I'm like, “Sorry. In my own world right now. Noise canceled.”

[1:02:52] LHL: This is a good one for you. What is your favorite texture to touch?

[1:02:56] IAL: Ooh. I have to say, yeah. Yarn. The clean, cut, shaved, tufted rug.

[1:03:02] LHL: I was hoping that'd be your answer. It feels so on brand.

[1:03:05] IAL: Yeah, I can't say anything else. I'd be wrong to.

[1:03:08] SW: Where is the most inspiring location you've traveled to?

[1:03:11] IAL: Honestly, I just came back from Europe with my boyfriend and his family. We went to Dublin, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Amsterdam was so pretty. It also just made me romanticize my life. I was like, I could totally live here. I think I was just seeing everyone on their bikes. Also, everyone just had such a cool style. Everyone was so hip. I was like, I could never go out and wear sweatpants in the city. That would be my biggest issue. I'd be so upset. I would know I'm striking. I'm striking a pose that day.

[1:03:50] LHL: Oh, wait. Did you just ask that, or did I?

[1:03:54] SW: I did.

[1:03:58] LHL: Izze, what's the last new thing you've learned? What's wrong with me. This is crazy. 

[1:04:00] IAL: I was at a workshop at Tinker House in Portland, or not Portland, in Newberry. Newburyport. She was telling me, the woman who owns it, she was telling me that you can use a cricket cutter to make a screen print.

[1:04:18] LHL: Wow.

[1:04:18] IAL: Which, I was like, “Are you kidding me?”

[1:04:20] LHL: Neat.

[1:04:21] IAL: Totally. I don't remember specifically what she said, but basically, it's like, there's a type of vinyl you can get where it works. It basically will make a screen print without all the hard power washing and everything like that. I like, I need to YouTube it and learn it, because that'd be so cool.

[1:04:41] LHL: Oh, my gosh. That would be awesome.

[1:04:42] IAL: Totally. Very accessible. I think there's a lot of at makerspaces, there's always cricket cutters and everything, so I was like, might as well try it.

[1:04:50] LHL: The next big thing.

[1:04:51] IAL: I want that.

[1:04:55] SW: Actually, that might be a good fit for you. A makerspace where you have that community, you have the equipment. Yeah.

[1:05:01] IAL: I've been thinking about it. But I'm like, grocery money comes first right now.

[1:05:05] SW: I know.

[1:05:05] IAL: Which is a bummer. I'm like, I miss school, but ooh, got to – in the future though, hopefully.

[1:05:13] SW: Very relatable. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

[1:05:19] IAL: I would say, don't worry about the grades, or the syllabus, or trying to impress my professors. Just because I do wish going back, that I was more my style and I focus less on approval. Again, I still learned and grew, but I definitely think I would tell myself, be like, keep drawing them stars, draw whatever you want. It doesn't matter.

[1:05:44] SW: That's really good advice to anybody who's listening right now. Be true to your own voice.

[1:05:50] IAL: Totally. Totally.

[1:05:52] SW: Yeah. Izze, thank you so much.

[1:05:54] IAL: Thank you for having me. This was so much fun.

[1:05:56] LHL: This was a wonderful conversation. It was like, my cheeks hurt real bad smiling. Too much smiling. Well, we can't wait to do this workshop with you. It's going to be awesome.

[1:06:10] IAL: I know. I'm so excited.

[1:06:12] SW: It’ll be so much fun.

[1:06:14] LHL: Listeners, you can go on our website, is where you can find out more about this workshop. If you're local to the Seacoast area in New Hampshire, you should join us.

[1:06:25] SW: Yeah. It is December 5th, which is a Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. We'll be at Art Up Front Street in the super cool Art Up Front Street front gallery, probably, where we are right now recording this episode.

[1:06:40] LHL: Thank you again so much for being on the show.

[1:06:41] IAL: Of course. Thank you, guys.

[1:06:44] LHL: With that –

[1:06:45] EVERYONE: Show us your creative guts.


[1:06:53] LHL: Another huge thank you to Izze Ardito Lebo for joining us on Creative Guts. Izze's work, personality, and conversation were all so refreshing. I love her artistic decision to not take her work too seriously and really make what she enjoys making, yet she also somehow confronts unsettling stuff and can make really touching and moving pieces. Then make really fun and comedic pieces. It's just such a refreshing combination. What a fun interview. I'm so happy that I've gotten to know Izze. Her workshop is going to be a blast.

[1:07:33] SW: It's going to be so much fun. Our cheeks hurt from laughing. Izze is so cute. I love her and her approach to art and that she doesn't take herself so seriously. I have such a deep appreciation for art that takes the pretension out and is just about having fun and making people happy. Find Izze's art on the web,, and on Facebook and Instagram where her handle is @cheekyneighborhood. Be sure to join us on December 5th to learn rug hooking from Izze. Get all the deets and register on our website.

[1:08:04] LHL: We both said something very similar.

[1:08:05] SW: Did we?

[1:08:06] LHL: We both said, she didn't take herself too seriously.

[1:08:09] SW: Oh, we're so similar.

[1:08:10] LHL: Yeah, I know.

[1:08:11] SW: We have the same thoughts.

[1:08:13] LHL: Yeah. Yeah. As always, you can find those links and more in the episode description and on our website, You will find us on Facebook and Instagram @CreativeGutsPodcast.

[1:08:26] SW: This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

[1:08:33] LHL: A big thank you to Art Up Front Street for providing a space where creative guts can record in.

[1:08:38] SW: If you love listening and want to support Creative Guts, you can make a donation, leave us a review, interact with our content on social media, purchase some merch, whatever you're able to do, we appreciate you.

[1:08:48] LHL: We thank you for tuning in.

[1:08:50] SW: We'll be back next Wednesday with another episode of –

[1:08:52] HOSTS: Creative Guts.