Artist Profile: Lauren Espejo
Updated: Apr 2
CA: What made you first start drawing?
LE: I would have to say my dad because he was an artist. He had me when he was young and had to switched gears when my mom got pregnant. I feel like he has always had that interest in art and it was around me when I was growing up. When it came time for me to choose my path, I was very inspired to pick up where he left off. I didn’t want the talent that I got from him to die so I would say my dad.
CA: Did he give you utensils to start drawing early? LE: Not really. He talked about it a lot and showed me his earlier pieces. I was surrounded by his work but he never put a pen in my hand to get going. He talked about technique and explained how he did something. If I had questions, he would answer them. When I started getting interested in graphic design, it was a totally different outlook on how he was used to creating. It is kind of like we learn from each other.
CA: Do you feel like you have less or more restrictions in comparison to people who draw by hand when doing graphic design? LE: I think I have more restrictions because my tools are limited in a way. If I wanted to have a certain type of tangible feel I would have my works on a stretch canvas. The reason is because I want them to realize there is something tangible about it even if I made it on a computer.
CA: Do you feel more efficient doing graphic design since you don’t have to worry about making mistakes like a pen to paper type artist? LE: I think that being in graphic design especially working in print design, you are more inclined to be prepared to send something to print. Having that in mind and a part of my practice to put that in my work to make it as perfect as possible before it reaches production.
CA: How do you describe your style? LE: My style would be abstract surreal. I have been more inclined to use photographs and take it to a surreal plane. Similar to a dream-like state.
CA: Have you had any influential role models or mentors to you? LE: Definitely. In college, I was lucky to have professors who still practiced art and were in galleries. One of my professors was Joseph Adolphe, who was a fine artist. I was not a fine artist at all. He opened my eyes in a way that made me look at things differently. It was a core class I only cared about passing. You need to know these things in order to become an artist. You need to see things that other people don’t see and translate that to paper. He definitely made be think of creating differently.
CA: When it comes to art, what sparks a piece for you? LE: My pieces are inspired by my emotions. If I have an idea, I will write it down. It is not even I will write down what the piece will look like. I will write down what I feel, what I want the piece to feel like, and how I make the person feel while looking at it.
CA: What has been your greatest accomplishment? LE: I guess OBSG’s first show as a collective where everyone’s work was on the wall. Everyone was represented in their own way and we brought in 250 to 300 people for the event. We had no clue we were going to have that kind of turnout. We kind of just did it and invited our friends and friends of friends. Just to see the turnout and the positive feedback about the event, pieces, and music was amazing to me. It was much bigger than we thought it would be. We had expectations but it was kind of surreal.
CA: Do you have a favorite piece? LE: One of my favorite pieces is from my last series and it is called Hardened Heart. It is the only piece in that series which was in color. My favorite artist right now is Rik Lee. I kind of envy him in a way. It is kind of pen to paper which is straight from his head.
CA: Is there a particular reason why that piece from your series was your favorite? LE: All of the landscape pieces from last series were taken from a guy in our collective. I saw this landscape he did and it was kind of a rocky architecture. When I saw it and reflected back to the nude photography I have taken in the past, it reminded me of a particular one. My subject was not in the moment and I had to ask her what was wrong. She told me about an experience she had with a relationship and at the time she was going through. When I saw his picture, I was undergoing a similar turmoil to the subject and it clicked on what she was telling me. I felt with my last series I wanted to make these landscapes with these women to personify mother nature. It shows how she is temperamental and unpredictable but at the same time can be very beautiful and calming. That piece made it come full circle for me.
CA: You said were envious of Rick Lee’s illustration and I have to ask why? LE: I wish I could do it and in a way I can but it has been a while since I created something from what I drew. Their pieces are very colorful and there composed of women. The use of color in her composition is a level I want to get too.
CA: What do you wish your younger self had known about art that you know today? LE: Not to listen to anyone who says you can’t make money by doing art because you can.
CA: Why have you been successful so far? How will those reasons change in the future? LE: I think it is because I want it so bad. I want to build this audience, to keep creating, and to keep doing shows. I don’t have this point where I will be done. I feel I will always be hungry for it and excited to do a show. I think I have been successful so far because I want it that bad.
I think that change is definitely constant and I feel I will want different things in the future. I do hope my hunger to create will stay the same. For me, there is this whole battle between high culture and low culture when it comes to art. What does it mean for us to be in a gallery or a museum when right now we want to be in a café? There is a lot of politics in that kind of stuff. I think it definitely will change because for me to be in galleries my whole approach will have to change.
CA: What is fun and rewarding for you in regards to drawing? LE: With everything, you get writer’s block or just hit a wall where it is not done yet. There is this struggle when you create. Eventually, you get that ah ha moment where you show it to some other creative or leave it alone to come back to it. I think when you hit that moment where you are like “this is what I was going for” is the most satisfying part.
CA: How do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for? LE: I want it to resonate with a lot of people. I feel like I started to do that with my last series. Going forward, I think I want my work to be more political. I definitely want people to question it. I want people to talk about it and there to be a conversation that flows from seeing one of my pieces.
CA: What is the best advice you can give someone with a strong desire to do art like yourself? LE: Don’t be afraid of doing something wrong and really put in the time practicing your craft.
Follow Lauren on twitter on @laurenespejo and IG on @laurenespejo