In conversation with Ayla El-Moussa

In conversation with Ayla El-Moussa

Ayla El-Moussa, the Queen of Waves, shares her artistic journey and a glimpse into her creative process where she balances traditional and technological elements. Dive into the interview to discover the symbolism of water in her creations, the inspiration behind her iconic "Ride The Wave" piece for Playboy, and her transformative Nude Pixels series.


Can you share the story of how your artistic journey began, and when you decided to embrace photography, film, and painting as your mediums of expression? 

My journey in art has been a lifelong adventure, nurtured by my parents emphasis on creativity. I fondly recall learning the alphabet on Gulf sands and diving into painting and costume-making as a child when my mom homeschooled me. My passion for photography started in high school, thanks to my first camera, a gift from my dad. Although I started with oil painting, photography ultimately became my primary medium as I was able to transform the ideas in my mind much quicker with a camera. Now, I'm excited to integrate all my skills into creating multimedia artworks.


How did you develop this unique approach, and what challenges and joys come with being a multifaceted artist? 

My technique of digitally painting over images evolved during my Nude Abstracts and Century Series. My brother introduced me to Procreate, which has become integral to my work. The challenge lies in conveying this to the audience, as I am incorporating so many elements, self portraiture, digital paint, real paint, abstraction etc. I find this approach can complicate how others perceive my work, as people often seek to categorise artists into familiar boxes. 


Being celebrated as the "Queen of Waves," how did the symbolism and power of water become a central theme in your creations? What does water represent to you in the context of your art?

Water has always been a core element in my life and art, partly influenced by my Cancer zodiac sign, whose ruling planet is the moon. The ocean has a dynamic, rhythmic nature which to me symbolises the heartbeat of the planet but also its utter beauty, power, mystery, and danger. Water's recurring presence in dream studies, and its association with the subconscious and feminine archetypes, are also a big reason why I incorporate water into my practice, it encompasses everything I believe in my visual philosophy. 


In "Bodyscape," you explore the ocean as a metaphor for the unconscious mind. How do you blend the forces of nature with femininity in your artistic technique?

This idea was birthed naturally, actually, from a lucid dream. I wanted to find a way to incorporate the element of water, specifically moving drone shots into my artwork, and it came to me one evening right before I went to sleep. It's a fusion of water imagery, specifically drone shots, and the philosophy of fluidity and adaptability, as famously articulated by Bruce Lee. “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup; it becomes the cup...” 


Your contribution to the Miami Beach Art Collection, especially "Ride The Wave," gained significant attention. Can you share the inspiration behind this piece and its connection to Playboy's themes?

Ooooo this was such a fun one. I was talking to Liz and the team at Playboy and they gave me Carte Blanche to do what I wanted- and we ended up pulling inspiration from one of their old vintage cover shoots from August 1968, I got to play with that concept as well as blending my idea of the waves within- and created this film noir interpretation of the cover. Really proud of that piece and I was actually their 3rd ever self-portrait in their 68-year history and that just felt incredible. 


You've mentioned in an interview once, "I am my own muse, creating a visual philosophy." It could be interpreted that your work reimagines the artist-muse dynamic. Could you elaborate on how this dynamic influences your creative process, and how it fosters a symbiotic inspiration in your art?

Historically, in Greek and Roman mythology, the nine muses represented the arts and sciences. A concept later evolved, with the term 'muse' broadly signifying anyone who inspires creativity. In my artistic practice, though, I've found comfort and inspiration in self-portraiture; I feel most at ease with myself, unlike the nervousness I experience in front of another's lens. This self-reliant approach allows me to explore and understand myself, shifting the traditional dynamic where a muse typically serves to ignite another's creativity. Also I despise paperwork and always felt very uncomfortable having models sign papers and release forms. 


Your collection "Nude Pixels" presents a unique pixelated form of self-portraits. How do you believe it transforms the viewer's perception of the female form?

Really, just to not be so intimidated by it, and also, have fun with it. The allure of a nude female body is powerful, but when you zoom in, you actually don't see much …and you realise, in the end, we’re all the same. 


Could you share the inspiration behind this series and its evolution, especially in exploring minimal pixels as a canvas for expressing personality?

This was such a fun concept - it came from a  time when someone told me they had zoomed into my butt and could see my beauty mark…and I was like, okay first of all that’s odd, but it gave me this idea of creating a series of works that look “nude” but the closer you look, the less you would see. It was a fun play on ways to break down the idea of “Nudity” and also homage to crypto punks. Nude Pixels then gave way to the concept of Nude Abstracts, which essentially was the idea of taking portraits of the body and abstracting them.


Your vision for art preceded available technology, and now we see it coming to life. How do you balance traditional artistic elements with technological advancements in your creations?

It’s really exciting to be at the forefront of a new way of experiencing, buying, and creating art. I somehow always knew that my work would be seen and fully appreciated within the digital world, and I'm excited to be able to create interesting ideas and play with both tech and traditional elements. There are no rules so to speak.


Looking ahead, what future projects or themes do you aspire to explore in your art? How do you envision the evolution of your artistic journey?

I'm wrapping up the year with a final diptych, but I'm going through a transformation period right now. I'm excited to be exploring new directions, combining my philosophies with various mediums like print, digital, physical, painting, and photography and merging them all into one final output.

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