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LvL Up Kid, also known as Leila Youssefi, is a Persian-American artist and environmentalist. Through public art, illustration, and interactive community spaces, her artistic work focuses on the wellbeing of society through themes of equity, sustainability, and positivity.

Using character and color as language, Leila investigates the dualistic nature between confidence and doubt in the fantastical realm of “LvL Up!”. Her pieces explore both figurative and abstract landscapes of the mind by imagining these contentions as whimsical cartoon creatures. These characters are seen in prismatic tableaux in which the self-confident “LvL Up Worm” battles the insidious, self-sabotaging “Imp.” By exposing this hindering dualism, the playful creatures aim to liberate us from ourselves.

Like many children of Iranian expats who fled during the Islamic Revolution, Leila is full-Persian and first-generation American. For so many, no matter where their heritage originates, this estrangement between cultural and geographic homelands may create massive inner tensions. By replacing emblematic elements of American daily life with akin symbols of Iranian existence, she employs her split cultural lens to empower hyphenated-identities.

As an alumna of UC Santa Barbara's Painting & Environmental Studies programs, she considers interdisciplinary endeavors obligatory to the progression of society. She believes the following as a truth to be visually explored; as humans are all slowly mixing color and race, the key to a compassionate future lies in the collective understanding that underneath our color – we are entirely soul brothers and sisters.

Leila is a member of the Board of Directors for the Human Relations Council of Santa Monica, the Art Director for Space Milk Music & Arts Collective, and a California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow.

Read more: Voyage LA Interview

Education

Business of Art: Entrepreneurial Training for Artists

Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI)

2021 – 2021

B.A. Painting (College of Creative Studies)

University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB)

2013 – 2018

B.A. Environmental Studies

University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB)

2013 – 2018

Awards, Grants & Certifications

2022    Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification

2021    Individual Artist Fellowships Grant, California Arts Commission (CAC)

2021    Quick Grant, Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI)

2018    Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Grant (URCA), UC Santa Barbara

2018    William Dole Award, UC Santa Barbara

2017    William Dole Award, UC Santa Barbara

Selected Clients

Lyft

Don Julio

Johnnie Walker

SoFi Stadium

Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Wethos

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Branded Arts

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