Thursday, April 2, 2015

Music as Inspiration - Artist Lauren Lowen

As mentioned in my earlier post I am going to showcase all artists at Jennifer Nelson Artists, a new art and licensing agency. I feel inspired by artist & illustrator Lauren Lowen. Her energy and enthusiasm is as contagious as her work. An artist, RISD grad, and educator living just outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and dog, Lauren creates art that she lovingly describes as "awkwardly whimsical or whimsically awkward" for a variety of markets including editorial, publishing, and licensing.

YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN/ART STYLE: I'd say folk art in general, which has influenced several art movements throughout history. The way folk art around the world utilizes iconic motifs, patterns, and colors has always been something I have connected with. There seems to be a pureness and natural abstraction there that I enjoy and display in my own art.

THE MAIN INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK: Probably music is the biggest inspiration in my work. I don't mean because my work is based on music (although there are a lot of characters playing guitars and various instruments), but I use music a lot in my process to "unlock" ideas when sketching and brainstorming. Each song has a different mood and feeling and that will usually inspire an image in some way, whether it be the colors or a prominent character.


1) When compared to other markets I've worked in, like editorial, artists in licensing and surface design are much more preoccupied and concentrated on trends. Obviously there is a reason for this, as clients need what will sell and artists need to pay close attention to that fact. However, I think sometimes people can be too focused or intimidated by trends to the point where it can be paralyzing. There has to be a balance of both market research and one's own "flavor" and when you find that balance it can be amazing. Pay attention to what's going on in the field, but don't get too wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. 

2) Learn some basic digital savvy. It doesn't mean you have to work 100% digital or only in vector. Even for traditional mediums, if you know how to edit colors or set up layers in Photoshop it can really benefit the types of jobs you can get.

Last year, I had to take a gouache painting and rearrange the elements so it would fit into a client's template. Since I had these skills, I was able to rework the painting easily in less than 2 hours. If I hadn't been able to do that, I would have lost the job. If you can't manage digital work on your own, then know someone you can hire to do those jobs here and there, like an assistant or local art student looking for part time work.

WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE, I.E. YOUR PASSION: I love my family and husband dearly! Also, I am truly lucky that my art is my full time job and am thankful for that every day. I also get to teach at the local art college, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film throughout the year and have always enjoyed working with students. When they talk about "what would you do if you didn't have to worry about money?" my art and teaching is what I would be doing, so it works out for me just wonderfully.

WHAT YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE: I'm not a big fan of being alone for really long spurts of time. I need to switch it up and be with people to maintain my sanity. It's important for me to connect with others - friends, family, my students and other artists.

A FAVORITE SOMETHING: My new house! We just moved in and it's been fun to get everything in order. I can't wait to set up my new studio.

A MEMORABLE EVENT IN YOUR LIFE: Last fall I got married, so I have to say that the big day and all of the honeymoon was very memorable and wonderful. Another big moment is probably when I got asked by Jennifer Nelson (my agent) if I wanted to be represented by her. It had been kind of a rough morning and it was like everything just changed for the better in that one second.

A FUN MEMORY: I visited Australia with my husband before we were married (I got to pet a wallaby!), we got engaged outside the Sydney Opera House, and he was prepared to Skype my parents on his phone so that they could share the big moment (they already knew and had to keep the secret from me).

YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD AS AN ARTIST: Probably my teaching. I give 110% to my students and have kept in touch with several of them over the years. It's nice when they let me know of big things in their lives, like a new dream job they just landed. Sometimes they go through rough things, like maybe their family isn't 100% supportive of their artistic goals. They only have classmates and teachers to cheer them on, so for those students my involvement can carry a lot of weight.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE: Earlier this year I started working with Jennifer Nelson Artists and have been blown away by the support and interest the agency has received (if you are a fan or follower, thank you from all of us!). Each artist has worked on several great projects since we've started and I am super excited to see the variety of clients we are talking with. At the same time, I am preparing artwork for Surtex in May. I will be at booth #559. Please stop by and say hello!

A HELPFUL TIP TO OTHER ARTISTS: I will share a favorite quote by philosopher Francis Bacon that summarizes my approach to the business of art: "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." Sometimes you have to put yourself out there. Make that first contact. Be the solution to someone's problem.

Successful people in general don't wait for others; they say "Here I am! You need me!" and sometimes you get lucky and that client yells back "You're right! Let's get to work."

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