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Interview with Lauren YS.

Zach Tutor of Supersonic Art recently interviewed Lauren for her upcoming show:

Lauren YS travels the world, leaving vividly beautiful murals and amazing stories within each destination. She carries a bare minimum of art supplies with her spot to spot, her imagination being her greatest utensil. I’ve known her now for nearly 5 years, having been a fan of her work and showcasing it in several of my Supersonic shows and we’ve since been both lucky enough to share several amazing adventures. 

Last week Lauren and I shared a phone call to discuss her solo exhibition, “Moon Burn,” which will be on display at Superchief Gallery in Brooklyn starting on July 15th and discuss her gypsy / hobbit lifestyle, her thoughts on her art and share a few laughs.

Lauren will also be releasing a limited edition, hand embellished screenprint via The People’s Printshop in conjugation with “MoonBurn.”  Sign up for their newsletter to be kept up to date on the release!

Check out her interview and new works below:


ZACH: So let’s just start with a few normal questions, where were you born?

LAUREN: I was born in Colorado.

ZACH: Colorado?  What part?  What did your family do?

LAUREN: Rural Colorado, right by Red Rocks Amphitheatre with mountains in my backyard.  Right close to Columbine.  My dad was a pilot and my mom was a flight attendant and they were both lawyers.  Aviation is strong in my background.

ZACH: So, even as a kid you were traveling all the time?

LAUREN: Yes, quite a bit - we were very lucky!  

ZACH: All over the world?

LAUREN:  All over. Sixth grade was Asia, Europe… I remember Greece most specifically. In Greece, I remember seeing all of these dead octopi hanging on clothing lines everywhere.

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ZACH:  Well that obviously affected you a lot.  You feature octopuses in your work quite often.  So I guess, how did art work its way into your traveling?

LAUREN:  I spent so much time in transit: Airplanes, cars, taxis everyday, so drawing was the best way for me to keep myself entertained. So I just kind of trained myself to always be drawing whenever I was moving. My most creative times are when I have something like a long flight. I’ll throw out twenty drawings and have some really good ideas.

ZACH:  Traveling with your family, are they artistic?

LAUREN:  Yeah! My twin is really creative, she studied art history. She’s moving to Shanghai to teach. She always drew and does a lot of writing. My mom used to draw. I remember her drawing hula girls when we were little. She never really pursued it, but she’s always been supportive.

ZACH: When’s the first time you remember drawing?  Or do you have a memory of thinking ‘Hey, this is cool.  I should keep doing this.’?

LAUREN: Not really, I’ve literally just been drawing forever. I can remember drawing pink fairies that were just triangles with pink faces and wings.

ZACH:  So you’ve always sort of kept to fairies and radically awesome, kick ass women.  Where does that come from?

LAUREN: I think… I think it just comes from an overactive imagination. I used to daydream that I had a tiny mermaid that would chill on my thumb when I was at piano practice in first grade. I was super weird. I was constantly coming up with imaginary things. And I guess just drawing them would help me get that stuff out, and I’ve just never stopped doing it.

ZACH:  Have you created a world for all of these characters?  Are they in the same place or do they exist separately?

LAUREN:  That’s one thing that I want to do. I did this thing when I was traveling for a while where I would take pictures and draw characters into different parts of the photos. I think they kind of inhabit a world around me. But eventually I want to, my dream is to do a full length, 3D animated movie. Miyazaki style. Where they interact and have a story and all of that.

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ZACH: Have you ever done a graphic novel or anything like that?

LAUREN: Oh yeah, my school taught a graphic novel class and that’s one of the reasons I decided to go there.

ZACH: What school?

LAUREN: Stanford. So I took that class as a freshman and I somehow convinced them to let me do it again two years later. And then I ended up being a TA for the class. So I spent half of my school career doing that. I was and am really interested in storytelling. I majored in English and Art because I wanted to tell stories and to be able to illustrate them. But the whole visual art thing grabbed me before writing did… However I have plans to bring writing back into my work.

ZACH: So, from college how long was it before you started traveling doing art and murals?

LAUREN: Um, it took me probably a year of working before I realized that I wanted to go full-time art. I tried to work in every area of the art world to get a sense of how things worked, and to see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I did that for maybe a year until I ran into an artist actually painting a mural in the Tenderloin, that was Nychos. And I realized that I wanted to do that. I went to Vienna to work with him that summer.

ZACH:  How long were you in Vienna?

LAUREN: I was there for three months and I was only suppose to be there for one month.  

ZACH:  Had you ever done murals before that?

LAUREN: Sort of. There were a couple of instances where I was fourteen or fifteen where I would draw inside of bathroom stalls, haha, and the house I lived in in college I painted murals everywhere because we were allowed to do that. But it was just small stuff and I never thought it would end up being my job.

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ZACH:  Since you’ve worked so many sides of the art world, what’s changed since you started down this path?

LAUREN: Well it’s really interesting paying attention to how the industry works while simultaneously being in it.  Obviously I get asked a bunch of questions about how social media plays into it and also how being a female plays in.  And something that’s been really interesting has been how important social media has been in building my own career.  Making the transition from having a social media presence but then actually being a person in the art world.  You have an Instagram then you’re actually in a place doing murals.  Realizing that you can’t rely on the cyber world even though I kind of built my world on that.  I was sitting down to have dinner with my mom a few years ago, my birthday dinner, and I sat down and was talking for a while.  And then the guy next to me at the table asks “Are you Lauren YS? I’ve been following your Instagram forever!” and I was just like ‘holy shit!’  It’s so weird.

ZACH: Do you think social media has made art more popular?  And a second part to that question is do you think artists are focused too much on social presence?

LAUREN: That’s a really good question. I think it’s good because in the past before any of this, before Hollywood and everything, visual artists were the celebrities. And I think that it shouldn’t be downplayed how important visual art is to our culture. What I’m known for is not my face or my lifestyle, it’s the work I’m putting out there. It’s the content. So I think that’s cool. And I’m really grateful for it. I would never want to be looked at for any other reason. However, I do think that social media can be a huge social ill. In the end, It's the work that counts.

ZACH:  How many pieces are in “Moon Burn?”

LAUREN: Around 12 mid-to-larger ones and a good number of smaller ones just because I want there to be a number that are really affordable for people. I have some younger fans and I want them to be able to actually own some of it. I think it’s really cool to think of younger fans as younger collectors. They follow you as you rise up and I do the same thing. I want to be able to collect younger artist's work as well.

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ZACH:  “Moon Burn,” how did you come up with that?

LAUREN:  It comes from the fact that I’m pretty nocturnal most of the time or I don’t adhere to any certain time zone because I never know where I am. I was thinking about, well, a lot of the feelings that were coming about were of nocturnes, the supernatural and witches and bats… I would think about that because I’d be traveling through the forest of New Zealand and hear wolves howling and the ocean, crazy glacier lakes and bats in Melbourne. But also more metaphysical things like the impact of ideas. Things that don’t physically exist. So that turned into the absurd concept that 'the moon can burn you.’ The idea you could sustain physical or metaphysical injuries or impact from things that don’t make sense. How ideas could either hurt you or change you.

ZACH:  What’s next?

LAUREN:  Let’s see. Good question. I’m going to Rhode Island to paint with Nychos in about a week. That’s for Inoperable Gallery. Then headed back to San Francisco to paint at Outside Lands with Tatiana Suarez. KaaBoo Del Mar in September. Then Murals in the Market in Detroit. Hopefully a project in Alaska next summer, fingers crossed. Looking forward!