Today's creative style journey is with the quirky, fun and wonderful Lauren Lowen. I met Lauren in Make Art that Sells class a few years ago and now we are both represented by the great Jennifer Nelson! I love Lauren's sense of humor, her fabulous color sense and gorgeous textures. She also is a RISD grad so we have that connection too. Its fantastic to see the development of her work. She also writes very informative and interesting blog posts that you might like to check out on her website.
How did you arrive at the style you working in currently?
My style definitely took many years and phases to develop (I like to say style is like a soup- you throw many different ingredients in a pot and let them simmer together for a long time).
Growing up, I was influenced by a lot of the comics and video games my brother had lying around in the house, as well as pop culture in general. Then in high school I discovered artists such as Egon Schiele and Alberto Giacometti. They used a lot of organic line work and abstraction in their art, which really appealed to me. Now I understand how those two interests have merged over time, but back then it all seemed kind of random.
When I went to get my degree at The Rhode Island School of Design, I had no idea I would end up declaring Illustration as a major! The department was very broad in its approach, and it made me feel like I could explore many different creative avenues. I was lucky that the program and my instructors believed that students should experiment and try new things while they are in a classroom setting. There was never any pressure to have a “style” before graduation, because I think they were wise enough to know that so much of that process happens after graduation and through out your career. Because of this, I was always investigating new things in my projects. Mainly, I would switch back and forth between a more rendered look and another method that was based more on line work.
Many of my peers went on to illustrate and create characters for comic books and the video game industry, so I’d be lying if I didn’t say that didn’t effect me to some degree during my college years (meaning the quirkier stuff sometimes took a backseat). My peers and instructors always loved the eccentric doodles and characters I would draw in my sketchbook, but I had a hard time applying that to traditional illustration markets and my assignments.
After graduation, it was a little weird to think “wow, now I can just make any art I want to make!”. It still took some time to figure out what that exactly was, but in the end the more playful, quirky line work took over. I did mostly illustrations for books and magazines. You may think it was art for children, but actually it was more for alternative or independent magazines- clients who wanted fun art for a slightly off-beat, colorful audience.
Eventually I learned about art licensing, and I thought that was the perfect fit for my art, which was heavy on characters…silly…art that you could see on products like greeting cards and kid’s clothing, etc. I took a job at a company in the gift & stationery industry (C.R. Gibson) to learn more and realized that my sense of humor was a valuable skill, so I quickly learned to embrace that in my art. The other big thing that happened to me at that job was that I had to become extremely knowledgeable about the adobe suite. As a result, I became much more confident with my digital skills, which opened up a whole new creative playground for me (before that, I was working in gouache). In fact, I’ve told people that becoming a digital artist has made me a better traditional painter, because over time I have become less timid due to the experimentation that occurs in Photoshop and such. That brings us to today, where I like to combine textures and mark making with strong line work, all through whimsical and quirky subject matter.
Are there any other styles or techniques you are playing and experimenting with now that you think will incorporate into your work?
Lately, I have been experimenting with different degrees of line work and color in my artwork. Maybe one piece will have so many colors in it that I loose count…and then the next one will have just four. Sometimes I skip the line work in some areas of a piece, so it’s a mixture of crisp lines and shapes that have less contrast.
It’s been a fun past year as I mix it up! Other than that, I would say the biggest thing I’ve been playing around with is subject matter. For instance, I never thought I could do pretty florals or lettering, but in the last months I’ve surprised myself by tackling those things. I just had to figure out what my version of florals and lettering looked like! It’s been a lot of fun.
See more of Lauren's work here.
It's so interesting Lauren! Thanks so much for participating!