We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily Soleil Correa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily Soleil, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
I disagree with the idea of having an aesthetic. In terms of visual crafts, I wholeheartedly believe that having a set “look” for every project creates an expectation for future work and is not only detrimental to our own ability to expand on our talents as artists but I think it staggers people’s impressionability of what we can create. When people know what to expect from you, nothing really catches them off guard and soon enough nothing really catches their attention either. I know that subscribing to an aesthetic can lead to quick leaps in success because as humans it feels so satisfying to watch complementary visuals together and we inherently enjoy making connections based on similarities (which to me explains the success of massive blogs on Tumblr or artists who specialize in a look that screams who they are). However, for me personally, I believe it is much easier to adhere to a look and brand yourself around that look than it is to expand and explore other means of creativity. I still believe that my work speaks for itself but not in the traditional sense. Instead my work screams “Lily!” based on its likeness to water, how my work adapts to the season I am living in, rather than how close it is to my past or “successful” work. I don’t want anyone to anticipate me or predict my next steps. Tomorrow I could choose a totally new subset of art and that would be more in character with who I am than to repeat anything I’ve already made a second time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have recently adopted the term “multifaceted” to describe myself, but I was not always comfortable with that idea. I struggled with saying I was good at many things when perhaps it was more that I wanted to be and not that I had tried to be. I started young and tried to focus on one craft at a time, but even now I struggle to do that. I always want to know how to do everything, it’s never too many skills, but always too little time. I am always looking to learn another skill and I’m convinced I’ll always have this growth mentality. In more recent years I have attributed this stubbornness to learn more as one with a positive connotation. I think it’s what makes me stand out. You put me in a room with ten different puzzles of one kind or another, I won’t be afraid to approach any one of them. As I expand to this multifaceted identity, that is always in the back of my mind. If you put me in a photo studio or a film set, can I know how to help? Can I do more than one of the skills needed in that room? When the answer is yes, that is huge for me. So I went from photography, to videography, to studying film, to exploring journalism, to modeling, acting, poetry, painting, spoken word, event planning, sewing, and makeup. My art encompasses many of these hobbies and talents of mine because I see art as a reflection of my inner thoughts, and so would it not make sense that I would consider more than 2-dimensional means to bring those visions to life? I enjoy the independence and empowerment of knowing more than one skill too. It means that I independently create whenever I want and by myself without losing quality in my work but it also means that I am more capable of communicating effectively with others when working together to bring an idea to life. I am excited to be able to direct larger projects and bring them to life. I am excited to be able to say yes to more because I am consistently exposing myself to more opportunities to grow in new areas of creativity. Was it easy? No. I think with capitalism, we are engrained with the idea that if things don’t make us money that they are not worth our time. I often battle with a negative internalization that if I am spending time or money on art or practicing a new skill, that I am doing something wasteful. To other people too, it can appear as indecisive or unstable and that can be discouraging as well. However, I think the joy I get from being able to sit in any chair of a talent far outweighs the ups and downs of being seen as confusing. Besides, professionally, being able to wear many hats has granted me more opportunities than I ever would have gotten if I only loved one thing. My job prospects are endless and with Picture Party, I can create environments that empower other people to expand their own networks and interests. Nothing makes me happier than seeing teens, young adults, and even people who are older, say to me “before today, I did not think I actually could try X,Y, or Z but I just met someone who really encouraged me or this event showed me otherwise.” At the end of the day that is what I want people to remember about me and to continue when I am no longer here. Everyone can be anything and you can always be more than one thing at a time.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego is where I did so much of my growing up that I have no shortage of ideas. A fun day with my best friend consists of getting burritos at Lupe’s Mexican Eatery right across from my old high school. Their California burritos mark off all my important criteria: quality of tortilla, chunky guacamole, well seasoned carne asada, non-soggy fries, and great side salsas. Then I would take them to any of our beaches, maybe take a stroll through Belmont Park, take pictures, if there’s any creative events that day maybe we hit up Barrio Logan to check out any markets or gallery showings and snag a churro sundae dessert at Salud!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I was raised by a village, as the saying goes, and so I really could not take credit for who I am without acknowledging every person who nudged me along the way. I must mention my family, composed of blood relatives and also people who have treated me like an extension of themselves and have shared their wisdom and kindness with me. They were the ones that pushed me to believe in myself and reinforced great qualities about me. With that I began Picture Party, a San Diego based creative community. I honestly feel that Picture Party changed my life. There is so much it taught me from logistics, to money management, to event organizing, while truly lifting me from my pubescent insecure mentality to someone unafraid to act decisively and demand more of myself and those around me. I learned my love for art and education from Girls! Camera! Action! founded by Karla Duarte. I exercised my creativity in my niche high school of Kearny Digital Media and Design School, where all the teachers I had pushed me to go above and beyond and supported my creativity and passion. My older siblings made huge sacrifices to have me in the United States and to share with me anyone who could offer me love and inspiration. My best friends Ellie, Memo, Josh, Diego, and Ali all for being there since the very first day we met and supporting my wildest ideas no matter how unattainable they may have seemed. I would not be who I am without them and I would have never built Picture Party as we know it if it were not for each and every one of them.
Self Portrait – Paid Commission with Woodzee Inc Sunglassed. Captured, edited, modeled, and styled by Lily Soleil Correa. “Lemon and Orange” – Modeled by Francisca Okeke and Lily Soleil Correa. Wardrobe styling, makeup, editing, and shot by Lily Soleil Correa. Assisted by Ethan Ong. “Buckle Up” – Modeled by Evan Stauber, lighting asssitants Karina Bowden, Kiki Morales, Amber Ramirez. Shot by Lily Soleil Correa “Mi Nicaragua” – Campaign composite of social and culturally relevant imagery to raise awareness of my cultural identity struggle. Constructed with photos from Google. Created by Lily Soleil Correa. “We Like What Feels Wrong” – Commisssioned poem written by Lily Soleil Correa. “Freshen Up” – Promotional photo for Picture Party merchandise release. Modeled by Joshua Koo and photographed and directed by Lily Soleil Correa “Barrio Logan BTS” – Photo of Por Vida Meetup September 29, 2019, by Sydney Prather “What’s New”- Portrait of Lili Wang. Makeup, wardrobe styling, hair, photography, editing, and direction by Lily Soleil Correa.