As soon as I came across Lauren Webster’s work, I knew I wanted to interview her. She’s a Sydney based artist who revels in all things vintage, using graphics and pop elements to create what one may liken to Keith Haring-esque art. Lending her aesthetic to all sorts of collaborations including surfboard and skateboard manufacturers, fashion labels, jewellery makers and interior decorators, she’s exhibited in solo and group shows across Australia and in Paris. Lauren’s got a very cool approach to her work (and her life!) and I loved chatting with her about living and breathing art, staying authentic and her love for collaborations.
You’ve been drawing and painting since you can remember – how did the transition from passion to career come about?
There was never any transition as such…I have always created and never considered putting a halt to that. I really do live and breath it, so from a young age I spent my days making things – I’ve carried on doing just that up until today. I even started a little business in high school selling artwork and t-shirts with paintings on them to the other kids. I had to shut down that underground operation when the teachers realised I had completely stopped school work for ‘my own work’. I went straight onto art school from there and it was a natural progression to the stage where I am now able to create full time.
You seem to have a pretty easy-going approach to your work, can you speak to this?
I try my best to be easy going with my work but deep down I know that this is a conscious decision. I am completely consumed by my work so whichever attitude I adopt towards what I am creating will be directly reflected in my life. I know that whatever I do is going to eat me alive, so it might as well be in the best way possible. At the end of the day if it doesn’t work, it won’t work and I’ll do something else. I’m pretty determined; I’d be in the gutter before I gave up.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I rise at the crack of dawn every morning so I can pack as much into each day as I possibly can. My days are spent between where I live (by the ocean) and the studio that I share in Surry Hills. Whether at home or in the studio I have a space to work and that’s what I do with the majority of my time. Drawing, painting, reading, writing and musing – they all keep me very occupied. I’m also very likely to hit the road at any given chance; I have feet that like to wander, and I tend to oblige them.
What are the challenges that come with working as an artist?
One of the challenges to this lifestyle is that I don’t really have a stop button – I’m forever seeing so much possibility and the mountains of work that I would love to create, so there’s always so much to be done. It’s not always a bad thing, actually, sometimes I love that about my life…but I know it’s not always good for me. There’s no reasoning with obsession.
Describe your artistic style?
My style is lo-fi, graphic, heartfelt and on the move.
For people to resonate with your work how important is it that you stay authentic?
The most important thing of all is to remain authentic, there’s really no point to any of this otherwise. People are receptive and they recognise honesty and authenticity; whether or not that means the work will resonate with them depends on the individual. All I can do is create art that I wholeheartedly believe in and if it strikes a chord with the audience I will be thrilled, but the integrity of what I am making remains paramount over the perceptions of others.
You’ve collaborated with fashion labels, surfboard and skateboard companies, photographers, object designers jewellery artists and homeware labels – what is it you love about collaborations?
I love collaborating with other creatives. It’s so cool to learn more about other peoples practices and then to push my work in different directions in reaction to that. It has taught me to be more flexible and to work outside of my usual practice which is often solo. One of my favourite things about collaborating is knowing that at the end of it all we have created something together that neither of us couldn’t have achieved on our own.
What’s next? Any exciting trips or collaborations on the horizon for 2016?
Oh for sure, I tend to keep a few things on the cards to look forward to. I have a couple of really great collaborations up my sleeve for this year and next year as well as some fun plans and new steps into the unknown for my own solo practice. Some of these gigs will have me with my head down working away here in Sydney while others will allow me to wander further afield. I can assure you though that each of these will be something completely new from me, which I’m really exited about!
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Blood, sweat and tears! I always give the same advice to aspiring artists, and it’s probably not the fun kind of advice they might hope to hear. You have got to work hard…then work hard some more. Make good art and sleep when you’re dead.
How do you relate to the word ‘adrift’?
To be adrift is to float on and relish in the weightlessness that we are all born into, existing forever in our childhood dreams. To be unshackled by the reality that grown-ups wrote down as law, to break those laws and make your own way.