Urban Nigths

Lurissu: Artistic Psychology in Austin

Lurissu: Artistic Psychology in Austin

Lurissu reflects the free and brave personality of Austin’s murals. On her walls you can find reflections and an unusual interest in psychology. Her paintings are not condescending and seek to delve into everyday problems such as stress or the expectations we all have to endure. In her comics you can find a more intimate Lurissu showing herself as she is. Her fascinating world is part of all of us. Come and discover her on our trip to her walls.

Lurissu began drawing as many artists in her books and school notebooks. Her drawings went in parallel to a passion that invaded her: Urban Art. Her fascination was due to the books she devoured on graffiti and also because it was forbidden. The most supreme form of art. Over the years she lost the fear of moving her characters and the psychology of her plots from the sheet to the wall.

We met her because of her impressive mural at Mexicarte that commemorated the celebration of the Day of the Dead 2018. We did not even suspect the personal universe so fascinating that we would find in our interview with this very peculiar artist. Do not miss stories that hide behind murals and comics.


What’s your story?

I have drawn since I was a girl. I soon became interested in urban art reading books about the world of Graffiti. It caught my attention, but I was scared because I didn’t want to have problems with the law. I didn’t start painting on the walls until 2016. A friend told me about Graffiti Park. We went one day and started painting a couple of times a week. Little by little, I was meeting friends who introduced me to this world. That was the way to get to the mural of Mexicarte, which is one of the largest murals I have painted so far.

What is your daily routine?

I have a job teaching art for fifth grade and high school. That’s my daily routine.

What is the meaning of Urban Art?

Humanizes the art that is usually in the museum. It is art that you would never imagine seeing in a museum. Sometimes it’s considered lowbrow art instead of highbrow art. Some people see it as vandalism.

What is your favorite painting?

I love the mural I painted in Mexicarte and another mural in Houston. It is a group of dogs with two legs that has a message of positivity. It was my first permanent mural. It’s in a corner, you have to look for it. I like that it’s like a secret.


How did you start making comics?

I started doing comics at school in my notebook. I was not a great student, but I really loved the art class, drawing in my room, and painting my books. The murals started much later.

What do you prefer to paint walls or comics?

I like both equally, but if I had to choose, it would be to make murals because it is something that everyone can see, and your name is there. In addition, it is much more work. You have to deal with the weather and paint with rain or a lot of heat in the street. I also enjoy comics because it’s something more personal and I can do it faster, but I love doing both.

What are you trying to say with your comics?

My comics are something biographical. They talk about things that happen in my daily life. The stress that we suffer or conversations with people whose ideas I like to capture in comics or even in murals. I try to talk about mental health without taboos. Many people throw messages like: oh, life is beautiful, but they do not talk about how they feel.

They do not try to internalize. Many people when reading my comics tell me that it helps them to react against stress in their lives because they feel that they are not the only person to whom it happens. Actually, stress is a universal feeling. We live in a society that forces you to continue forward and reach higher, otherwise you stay out. There is not much awareness that there are people dissatisfied with that way of life. My comics are related to the stress that these situations generate.


What is your reference in Urban Art and comics?

In comics, the Hernández Brothers. I love their Rocket Comics, where they show nightclubs, women, Chicanos and Los Angeles of the eighties. They are my main influences. Also, Daniel Clowes. Recently, from what I’m reading my favorite is Monsters (from Emil Ferris).

In murals it’s a shame because I cannot remember many of the artists I grew up with, but I could say that Sam Flores is one of my references. He is working on Upper Playground (a Californian apparel brand). I used to paint characters with huge hands. I cannot describe it, but it was fascinating. In Austin, I’m really influenced by artists I’ve met here like Emily Ding or Helena Martin.


Is it hard to make money with comics and murals?

Yes, it is. I have sold some comics, but it has not been anything significant. For those who do street art or emerging artists in Austin, it is difficult to value their work in high price ranges. It is hard.  Many people do not know all the work behind these murals.

Others see it as a luxury. Sometimes, they hire you and ask you to paint it in one color instead of doing something different. They see that if you do something colorful it will be very expensive and unnecessary. I do not need something fancy, they tell you.

Lurissu @ Austin’s Pizza

What people or things influence you at the moment of creation?

I have seen many Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network cartoons that excited me, and I have tried to recreate them in my drawings. I also improvise some of my characters by a random shape on the pad and trying to find the character inside. I draw strange shapes in my mind on the sheet or on the wall. They are a mixture of cartoons and imagination.

Do you prefer urban art to be short or permanent?

In my dreams it would be permanent, but I accept that it is not because someone can tag it or paint it over. I think it’s better to be short-lived because you accept that nothing is permanent. You have to lower your ego because the world is changing, and the city changes rapidly. In addition, you will always have photos to remember it.

Do you feel that when you paint you are part of the history of the city?

I feel that my art has been in harmony with the city. People walk and see your drawings and sometimes remember them.

Is urban art a personal expression or something more combative?

It can be both. People need to express things that they do not agree with and art is a way of doing it. Take your anger against everything that is happening and turn it into passion and beauty. It can also be a personal expression of your own style.


How is the urban art scene in Austin?

There are many people painting. You can go to Graffiti Park and find more than 20 people painting the walls. Sometimes, we collaborate with each other. There is a lot of urban art in Texas too in Houston or Dallas, but Austin is smaller and that makes it a more united community. It’s a very nice scene. Everyone is very open.

What was it like to paint at Hope?

It was very interesting. It helped me practice new techniques and meet people. Sometimes, it was not so good because there were many tourists taking pictures with my unfinished mural. Other times they tried to buy you spray, but it was positive because you get recognition. The best thing about painting there was to practice and to build community.  The murals were very short-lived. You were leaving just a second and someone was already painting on top. Sometimes I get angry, but it helps you to realize that this art is brief.

Is the change in Hope’s location sad for you and the community?

It’s sad because we have many memories from there, but it’s a great opportunity for everyone. There is some controversy because many artists started there, but I think it’s a good step. I’m excited to paint there. It is a little further away from downtown which is going to turn it into a place you really want to go. And it’s not that far away.

Lurissu @ Hope Gallery

What do you think about the passage from urban street art to galleries?

Not only it’s in the street, sometimes it’s in the bathrooms, . It has been positive, but I do not think it is urban art to move a wall to the museum. Urban art must remain on the street with the intention of not being permanent.

Is the secrecy of the artist maintained?

It keeps. If I do something illegal, I do not sign. Artist puts his name on Instagram when it’s legal, but you do not know who he is in many cases. They don’t post their own photos. The secret continues to prevent any of them from ending up in jail or having to pay fines. That has not changed. In other cities, people use tags instead of their real names. Obviously in the community we know who we are. Putting your identity is not important.

Photos: Lurissu Instagram

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