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Artist of The Week: Alana O'Herlihy

Meet Alana O’Herlihy—otherwise known as @lilmami_lani, The Joker, or Jack Nicholson. The NY-based photographer and artist throws herself into her work; whether she’s taking on a new identity for a self-portrait, or injecting her subjects with passionate emotion, it’s easy to spot an O’Herlihy image. Her work is often cut up, collaged, and extremely intimate. She’s been commissioned to do campaigns for Dior, Fendi, Maybelline, and her work has been featured in several publications. Hailing from Los Angeles, her work encapsulates the East Coast energy while retaining the sweetness of the West Coast. Since moving, O’Herlihy doesn’t miss much about the creative scene in LA, but there are certain things she can’t skip out on. Videographer Yasmine Diba documented O’Herhily in her hometown at the annual Chilli Cook-Off in Malibu, an event she’s been attending with friends since she was little. Watch the carnival-esque video here, along with our full interview below.

Having grown up in LA and now being a huge fan of New York, is there anything you miss about creating in Los Angeles?

I don’t miss much about creating in LA. The benefits of LA for me are the lack of walk ups and the beach.

What upcoming artists are you looking at?

ALL OF THEM. I think it is very important that me and my peers pay attention to up and coming talent as we are the future and I think it is valuable to support other young artists in their journey.


In terms of technique, can you describe the process of creating one of your collages? Which tools do you use?

  • Xacto Knife
  • Cutting Matt
  • Loads of old and new magazines and books
  • Music
  • I have to be by myself

As you’ve continued to work with bigger and bigger clients (namely Dior, Fendi, Maybelline)—what did that feel like? In which moments did you feel very proud of yourself?

 Blushing even reading this question. I feel very very lucky and over the moon every time I book a job that I am excited about. I feel more pleased with myself as time goes forward and my experience grows. I learn more and more each time and always try to keep my journey slow and steady rather than rapid, rushed, and purely exciting. I think I have felt the most proud of myself this past summer. I changed a lot as a person which in turn affected my work life, seeing this change materialize was rewarding as well as something I don’t think I will ever forget.

How do you maintain a sense of intimacy in your work when you’re commissioned to create something that will be viewed on a larger scale?

My work is something I push to be as personal and as intimate as possible. I try to drive to whatever ‘extreme’ I see fit for the project as I know the client will most likely take it down a couple notches and I will still be left with some of the quarks and intimate moments I placed their the first time around. This is of course dependent on the client and the specific project.

You make an effort to show your true self. Whether it’s through your work or social platforms, nothing feels censored. Because you’re under the eyes of many, do you ever feel that there is a disconnect between the way you’d like to be perceived and the way that you are?

I don’t feel there is a disconnect as I think it is more exhausting to try to control the way you are perceived. It is much easier to just be me and put it out there, one can take it or leave it.

What are the most surprising responses you’ve gotten from your work?

Almost every time someone says they like my work it is a happy surprise. As an artist it is a rare occurrence that I am 100 percent thrilled with everything that I do. I have l learned to trust the process and to not overthink it. I just create and show as much content and work as I can.

In what ways do you insert yourself into the subjects you’re capturing/work you’re making?

I do my very best to connect with my subject. I have found that once there is a level of connection that goes past the idea of creating work or the idea that we are at work the outcome and moment is special and I hope the viewer can see this too.

How do you transform moments of doubt?

I transform moments of doubt when I think about the larger picture. I step back and remember we are not curing cancer here, we are creating art and hopefully lifting spirits. None of this is too serious, it is a joy everyday of my life when I get to do what I love for a living.

You have unlimited uber rides around the city – describe your perfect day.


Great question, and what a treat this would be.

      • Pick up all my friends
      • Go over to the ‘Heavenly Bodies’ exhibit at the Met
      • Maybe go to Queens to my favorite shitty motel and take some pictures
      • Then we could head up to JG Melon uptown and have some burgers
      • If the night calls for it we will bar hop until i have reached my limit and then head on home to my sanctuary

What’s in store for the future of fashion and photography?

The future of fashion photography is exciting at the moment. I see a shift happening, this shift includes a diversity I have not seen in the history of fashion photography. It will no longer be a matured male-dominated sport if all goes according to plan. The future looks bright to me, I hope art and fashion will once again be in one another’s embrace.

What’s in store for you?

I never know whats in store for me! As a freelance artist my future is in the wind and in my hands. I can only control so much. I am enjoying the moving image work I have been making and that has been put out recently. It is very important to me to keep growing and learning in all these mediums, hopefully this year we can see some more directing and short videos from me!

Stay tuned to Milk for more artists on the rise.

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