Ilaria Novelli aka Ila Pop is an Italian artist creating poptastic and surreal art with a dark yet sugar coated vibe. Where waiflike women are engaged enjoying various forms of wanton depravity – defiantly flashing their teeth filled vaginas, pouring milk over their bodies, exposing their self harm wounds on their thighs, being urinated on by skinheads, being consumed and birthed by otherworldly monsters etc.
A world were the whimsy of childhood, meets the eros of adulthood, combined with Ila’s interests in the esoteric, the occult and the macabre.

Art by Ila.

An artistic talent with a defiant spirit, Ila has been creating since she was a child – with some of her juvenilia even raising the ire of the nuns at her Catholic kindergarten.
With Ila remembering,

I’m a really happy, charismatic child and a cult leader at the catholic kindergarden, I once persuaded my followers to eat ants and flowers from the backyard.
The nuns are really impressed with my drawing skills and they think I’m possessed, especially after I draw little girls performing a detailed roundabout around a tree.

Wanting to know Ila a bit better we sent her some questions to answer over email.
You can read our interview with Ila and see some of her wonderful art below…

Getting Acquainted

Name + D.O.B?

Ilaria Novelli aka Ila Pop, age unknown.

City, State and Country you currently call home?

I’m Italian living in a small town in the centre of Italy.

City, State and Country you’re from? 

I used to live in Rome but I moved in the small and quiet Interzone.

Art by Ila.

Please describe some memories from key stages of your life: concerts, art, toys, romance, comic books, hunting, school, politics, crime, religion… ANYTHING really!

* Age 5 – beginnings: 

I’m a really happy, charismatic child and a cult leader at the catholic kindergarden, I once persuaded my followers to eat ants and flowers from the backyard.
The nuns are really impressed with my drawing skills and they think I’m possessed, especially after I draw little girls performing a detailed roundabout around a tree.

* Age 10 – continuations:

I still believe that life is a wonderful adventure, I create worlds with the power of my imagination and I love nature, my house is in the middle of a new suburban area, the neighbourhood is a lazy work in progress of miniature squared buildings still submerged in fields of corn and vines.
There’s a creek that splits this unusual landscape where I spend my afternoons collecting insects, little amphibians and reptiles.

Sometimes I bring the most astounding specimens at school and explain their habits to the other kids, then I release them back into the wild.

Ila as a young girl.

* Age 15 – getting serious:

I play the bass in every band asks me to, I spend time with weird nerdy boys in mouldy dark basements, I’m not really there, there’s a range of infinite possibilities in music and literature.

My new favourite place in town is the antique public library, I get lost in books I can’t find in the polished mainstream bookstores: all Anais Nin’s diaries, Henry Miller’s commissioned pornography and William S. Burroughs novels are more fascinating than any living creature.

* Age 20 – young adult:

I live in Rome, I’m starting to believe that life is just the present and it’s unpredictable, lots of changes, swinging moods and replaceable chances and situations. No right or wrong choices or free will, just living the days wondering about the next five minutes.

I graduate at the Art and fashion design school and I start doing occasional jobs not always art related.

* Age 25 – adult mode:

I’m a mom, I move to my old town in a new suburban landscape with a mix of growing buildings and countryside, I feel more focused on myself for the best of my daughters.

I spend my time with children and in my spare time I try to illustrate what lies in my imagination.

A recent photo of Ila.

Personal motto(s)?

I believe in improvisation and I don’t have any mottos.

Art Questions

When and why did you first start to make art?
… and any pivotal artistic moment(s) / influence(s)?

I’ve always preferred to express myself through visual images rather than words, my drawings came along with my earliest memories.
Travelling with my parents as a child and visiting museums or art galleries had a huge influence on me. I remembered my visit to the Louvre museum in Paris when I was 7 years old as my first immersion into a wonderful world made of eros, thanatos and paint.

Please describe the usual process involved with producing your various art – from initial idea, to creation and finish?

– your drawings and illustration?

I often don’t have an exact idea when I sketch, it’s really natural to start from something and ending in the opposite direction, sometimes it is just an hazy image and it changes constantly until I finish the draw.

The last works I made during the lockdown were inspired by elements I found in J.G. Ballard’s books: the Max Ernst’s paintings he loved, Liz Taylor’s wig (as seen in the screenprint made by Andy Warhol) imagined as an erotic element, Jayne Mansfield crash and various apocalyptic events.

An illustration by Ila.

– your paintings?

The media I use depends on my mood and my urgency to create: drawing is faster and more practical than painting. In these days I change my mind and get bored really quickly, once I finished a work it doesn’t belong to me anymore and painting could be very frustrating if you’ve already given up on the original idea.

I usually decide to paint if the drawing gives me an incomplete feeling and I believe that I can be stuck in that image for a longer time.

A painting by Ila.

– your digital art?

I have always been fascinated by technology, robotics and science fiction, disciplines and concepts consolidated and romanticised by every form of artistic expression. We tend to distrust the digital representation, it’s considered less virtuous and humanised, so I try to use it in a more artisanal way, leaving room to imperfection and to the human component.
Starting with the collage, I turned it into a more immediate and intuitive technique both in the realisation and in the elaboration, a combination between the handmade and a virtual immanent.

A digital work by Ila.

Favorite other artist(s)?

Right now: Ed Ruscha, Mark Rothko, Kazimir Malevic, Unica Zurn, Edvard Munch, Paul Delvaux and Eugene Delacroix.

Any projects you want to hype?

In these uncertain times of pandemic I’m just dedicating myself to personal projects, after my own little ‘atrocity Exhibition’ series of drawings I want to start to painting again bigger canvas.

If people wanted to work with you, have a chat or buy something – how should they get in touch?

I’m on social networks and pretty available.

Art by Ila.

Odds and Ends

If you could live in any place, during any historical era – where and when would that be? …and why would you choose that time and place?

I’m not nostalgic, I believe that any era or decade had its highs and lows, but I’m curious to have a peek at the Manchester music scene in the late 70’s, early 80’s and see a Joy Division live gig and hopefully meet Ian Curtis.

What role did toys play in your childhood(s)?

I preferred insects over toys but I also loved Barbie and all the Sanrio paraphernalia I could find, I created still lives with all my dolls and took photos of them.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

Love is the drug.

A painting by Ila.

Who was your 1st crush and why?

David Bowie, no explanation needed.

Does sex change everything?

I believe that sex has changed.

What are the top 3 items you own?

I don’t feel attached to material thing anymore.

In a fight between the two iconic authors: Bret Easton Ellis Vs. Dennis Cooper – who would win and why?

Dennis Cooper wins, I imagined a tipsy Bret Easton Ellis after a couple of Bombay Sapphire on the rocks more worried about his Hermes tie and Valentino tailored suit. His designer glasses stay on during sex or fight.

Here you are a Dennis Cooper as the Caravaggio’s David holding Bret Easton Ellis severed head.

The battle in all it’s violent glory!

Please describe your last dream in detail…

I usually have nightmares, I often dream that I’m in places that look familiar as they are all the same in each dream (or I think so) but they don’t exist in reality. Big cities with huge concrete buildings and neon lights, shops and hotels with infinite doors hiding secret spaces or landscapes. I always feeling lost and get lost.

Tonight I was in one of these Hotels with some familiar faces and few minor celebrities (weird because I’m always alone) there was a zombie apocalypse going on and things get scary, I was running away and in the room I found there was an ocean full of dead bodies washed ashore and I decided to sleep there.

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I want to be remembered for the things I haven’t done yet or completely forgotten.