Meet Brooklyn-Based Artist Ludmila Leiva

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Meet Ludmila Leiva - a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, illustrator, and creative strategist. She is the daughter of a Latina immigrant and an Eastern European refugee. Through her art and writing, she focuses on telling the stories of marginalized individuals, exploring themes of race, identity, sexuality, and gender. Her work particularly focuses on the inspiring narratives of women of color and I'm so excited I got chat with her!  

Q: How was your idea of beauty shaped as you were growing up?

Ludi: My idea of beauty was in a constant state of flux growing up. I was a very insecure kid and teenager, my self-esteem was pretty low and as a result I latched onto beauty ideals pretty quickly. Like many women, I definitely subscribed to the idea that there was always something else, something more, I ought to be doing to improve myself or to make myself more palatable to others. I am mixed-race and white passing and grew up in a predominantly white community, which certainly shaped the way I viewed myself, particularly in relation to others. I also traveled to my mom's home country of Guatemala nearly every summer as a preteen and teenager. These were highly impressionable years for me and every time I went I found myself coming back with heightened ideas of hyper-femininity. I also somehow always got convinced to lighten my hair by my mom and many of my family members—I guess that highlights were in style in the early 00s but, looking back, I realize I was encouraged to play up and/or lighten my already lighter features. 

Q: You are an artist, which makes me think that you are constantly interacting with your perception of beauty. How does this guide your artwork? Do you feel that you can affect the larger narrative around beauty? (I always felt that the narrative around beauty was happening to me - without my voice and those of many people like me - which is a large reason why I started this blog).

Ludi: I am so bored of certain types of bodies and features being highlighted in art and media. I center women and people of color in my artwork because that is just what I have felt guided and compelled to do. I hope that, in doing so, I am affecting a larger narrative, but it's also a way for me to understand myself and my ancestors. I like to play with the idea of societal gaze, of vulnerability, of nostalgia when drawing and painting women. It evolves depending on my mood, but my art is a form of therapy and self-care, above all else.

Q: In terms of your own routine, what are your favorite skincare products? What are your biggest skincare concerns? 

Ludi: My favorite skincare product is rosehip oil. I put it on every night before I go to sleep and it makes my skin feel so soft and healthy. It also helps to fade hyperpigmentation which is a concern I have. 

Q: If I could peek inside your makeup bag, what would I find? What are your go-to's - the things that you wouldn't walk out of the house without?

Ludi: I wouldn't walk out of the house without my kabuki brush and my loose mineral foundation. Years ago when I was dealing with a bad bout of hormonal and stress-induced acne, I hated liquid or cream foundation I had previously loved. I felt that I had so much to cover up on my face but every time I tried to do so with these foundations, I felt like I was wearing a mask. A friend recommended Youngblood mineral foundation to me and I got hooked. When my skin is perfectly clear, I put on a light layer of foundation and my skin looks flawless and dewy. When it's broken out or dry, this stuff can do wonders in covering up without making me feel like I have a heavy cake face on. I'm obsessed. 

Q: How do you learn about new brands?

Ludi: TBH as someone who has sensitive skin and has dealt with acne, I am HIGHLY suspicious of new makeup brands. I am not easygoing when it comes to putting things on my face. In general, I'm far more likely and open to trying products that have minimal ingredients and have less weird chemicals in them. Also, I have been living a vegan lifestyle for over five years and refuse to support any brand that tests on animals or derives products that are rooted in animal or human cruelty. I also feel safer with and prefer to support smaller beauty brands and startups versus megacorporations which are all inherently kind of problematic.

Manasa ReddyComment