Face mask art series Beauty in the middle of Blues was born as an outcome of Covid-19 by New York artist couple, photographer Daniel D’Ottavio and Finnish burlesque artist Inka Nevala, better known as LouLou D’vil. In the blink of an eye, they both lost all of their work and all potential income, like hundreds of thousands of other people around the World. 2020 brought isolation from life, financial despair, and confusing uncertainty to people’s life. Fortunately, they weren’t in this situation alone but were able to find strength from each other. After the shock of reality and personal grief, they found an alternative medium to express themselves as a unit instead of individual artists. Both Daniel and Inka have a strong work ethic, so they decided not to fall into despair but to find inspiration for themselves and others.

As ambitious professionals with unstoppable drive, they started a new visual art project and a face mask challenge on LouLou’s Instagram page (loulou_dvil) from the safety of their Brooklyn home. Inka uses any materials she can find, like recycling old burlesque costume pieces, giving a new life to basic cloth masks, and then styling the masks with matching costumes for the photoshoots. Many of the looks are devised from old fabric pieces or even curtains!

“I can’t be out there performing to the audiences, but I do need to create art to give inspiration and take care of my own mental health. I’m creating beauty in the middle of confusion because that’s all I know to keep myself going”, says Inka.

Inka’s boyfriend, Daniel, encouraged her to start making these creative face masks. Daniel then began directing photoshoots to take their and other creative’s minds from the blues to a visually mesmerizing fantasy adventure. They aim to show that beautiful things still happen despite the uncertain situation. Inka and Daniel believe that fresh perspectives and positivity in hard times help inspire people to grow, find their new voice, and give strength to uplift others.

“We want to help others by reminding that COVID-19 isn’t killing creativity; it only takes different forms if we stay positive and keep seeking solutions. We also wanted to spread awareness of the importance of wearing face masks. We both feel like art is even more meaningful in times like these. Pandemic has hardened our opportunity to make a living as an artist, but we are not going to give up”, says Daniel. 

Inka plans to use these lavish masks with her burlesque costumes when the doors for live entertainment open again. “I can’t wait to get back on stage, first here in NYC, and then start international traveling again. That’s all I have known for the past 12 years. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was questioning my identity like a lot of artists. I’m hopeful that things do get better, and the live entertainment gets back on its feet again sooner than later”. 

Inka, aka LouLou D’vil, is a full-time performance artist originally from Finland. She won World’s biggest burlesque competition in 2013 garnering the title of Reigning Queen of Burlesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame. She has toured around the World headlining the stages of established venues over a decade. Inka has lived in the US for five years now, which three years in Las Vegas and two years in New York, with her “Extraordinary ability” 0-1 work visa she received as one of the first-ever European burlesque performers. For more information, please contact via email: 

Louloudvil@gmail.com by phone +1 (702) 606 2820. 

D’Ottavio Photography 304 Boerum street, Brooklyn NY 11206 +1 (347) 528 2263 d@danieldottavio.com