An Interview with Simone Brûlée

Simone Brûlée (Instagram @5000ladybugs) is a 17 year artist residing in Chicago. Her art is not only venerable but delicate, and her usual subject is herself and her city. Her indie influences shine through in her artwork, but has her own personal twist that makes her so original. Be sure to take a look at her film, a self-portrait titled mirror image (embedded below).

mirror image from Simone B on Vimeo.

Ebonni: What inspires you the most?

Simone: That’s a tough one. I feel like what inspires me most changes so frequently, as I consume other peoples’ art or see a cool fabric or read a book or… really anything! Some consistent sources of inspo for me are The Isis Nicole Mag, Rookie Mag, and The Pulp Zine.  Recently I’ve been chaneling all this inspiration into video. Video is an experience with so many layers and elements, which I love!! One video I’ve been thinking about lately is this series of highlights from Wildwood, N.J.. There are so many sources of inspiration that I look to and try to replicate in my art: a perfectly ripe avocado, the feeling of a really good hug, fleeting things made permanent through a physical manifestation in art… I want people to feel the little happiness in those things when they see my art.

Ebonni: What is your favourite subject to focus on?

Simone: My favorite subjects to focus on are probably teenage girls, friendship, and self perception. That’s such a predictable answer because I’m a teenager, and I freak out sometimes about friendships and the disconnect between how others perceive me and how I perceive myself. That disconnect is something I really tried to focus on in my self portrait video. There are so many shots in that video that I look at and think, “Wow that doesn’t look like me at all,” but they all look like me because they are me. I find that thought is so cool to examine, but I can only really fully explore it when I use myself as a subject.

Sparkle 1 and Sparkle 2 by Simone B.

Ebonni: How did you start making this kind of work?

Simone: I started with a disposable camera at a summer camp I hated. I was maybe 9 or 10, I was chubby and didn’t brush my teeth very often, and I just didn’t have an easy time at camp. I could take my camera and walk into the trees behind the cabins though, and get to see little beaches that no one else saw, and this old tree house no one else knew about. Once, I met a little yellow bird who let me pet her with the tip of my finger. Capturing those places and experiences got me into photography, which then led me to video and multimedia art. I took pictures all through middle school on a little red point-and-shoot digital camera. It was only in high school that I started shooting with a fancier camera and experimenting with film and collages.

Ebonni: What camera do you use?

Simone: My camera is a Canon SX500IS. If anyone is looking to find a good DSLR camera, I would not pick this lil guy. It’s the most difficult DSLR in the world because the manual focus isn’t something on the lens of the camera, it’s internal. The lens also cannot be changed/swapped with any other lens. I’ve been using autofocus on him for all the years I’ve had him and am only now figuring out the ISO settings and all that jazz.

Ebonni: Favorite director?

Simone: I’m not sure who my favorite director is! I really like Wes Anderson’s recent movies, though I’m not a super big fan of his older ones like The Life Aquatic or Rushmore. Sofia Coppola is so cool! Lick the StarMarie Antoinette, and the Virgin Suicides are all some of my favorite movies. Samuel Shanahoy makes some incredible short films. His piece Skate Bitches inspired me to learn how to skateboard, and I cannot wait to see So Long Suburbia! Those three are the only directors I can name off the top of my head.

Ebonni: Dream movie you would love to remake?

Simone: If I could remake any movie, it would probably be Valerie and Her Week of Wonders! I love, love, love that movie. It would be so cool to see it re-imagined.

Ebonni: Favorite actress?

Simone: My favorite actress is probably Lea Seydoux. She has such gorgeous eyes, and I’ve really loved her in ever movie I’ve seen her in!

Ebonni: Favorite decade?

Simone: It’s hard to pick a favorite decade. For style, I feel like the 60s, 70s, and 90s were all really interesting. I can’t commit to just one of them! I am so glad to be living in a time when anyone can pick and choose elements of style or whatever from each decade, and create new combinations from already existing trends and styles.

Ebonni: Favorite movie?

Simone: My favorite movie is probably We Are the Best! or But I’m a Cheerleader. They are both such beautiful movies, but I really love the stories too!

Ebonni: Best advice you can to give to creative young girls?

Simone: The best advice I can give to creative young girls is to try everything!! Think you might like embroidery? Try it!! Think you could make some really cool stickers? Figure out how to make em and do it!!!! It’s okay to be bad at things. No one starts off perfect. (And don’t beat yourself up about it either!!) I am my own worst critic, and a mantra I try to keep in mind is: if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it about yourself. You’d never tell your friend that their art was awful, so don’t tell yourself that! Just keep working at it. No one comes out of the womb knowing how to do everything.

May 2, 2016