The Q&A: Lauren Tamaki

By Peggy Roalf   Monday June 29, 2015

Q: What are some of your favorite things about living and working in Brooklyn?

A: I’m originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I’m currently living and working in Brooklyn with some extended jaunts to Toronto. Brooklyn definitely has a lot going for it—great food/beer and the happiest place on earth—Prospect Park. Physically being in New York has afforded me a ton of work opportunities with fantastic companies such as Bumble and bumble, Arch & Loop (RIP) and Kate Spade Saturday (RIP). Things move fast here and I’ve been able to hone so many different aspects of design and illustration in a short time!

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: Working in my sketchbook is my favorite way to pass the time and even eats in into time that should be spent on client work… I keep a tumblr of my sketchbook, which makes me unreasonably happy.


Sketchbook drawings

I’d say my work is 80% analogue and 20% Photoshop. I’m trying more and more to use less digital manipulation—and I want to be clear that I’m not saying digital art is bad! It’s just a personal thing. I’m jealous of people who can make magic using only pixels.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: FW Ink. Hands down. I harbor a secret fear that they’ll stop making it and I’ll have to switch careers.

Q: What do you like best about your workspace? Do you think it needs improvement, if so, what would you change?

A: My workspace is currently nestled neatly in a corner of my studio apartment, which obviously has its pros and cons. Pro: roll out of bed and get to work. Con: everything else. I’d love a dedicated studio space one day but that would require a move to a larger and cheaper apartment, which would require a move out of New York.


Armani Exchange Summer 15 Showroom Wall Art

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: The reason I love ink so much is because you don’t really have a choice—it dries and it works or it doesn’t. It’s a very decisive medium.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Drawing, oysters, Prospect Park, honey, Milton Glaser, biking on roads with no cars, pink, 2B pencils, short shorts, big bowls of Japanese rice, trashy drag queens, beer, FW ink, museums (and old stuff in general), a beautifully cut garment…I could go on!

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were the perfect pair—I loved the The Witches, The Twits and pretty much everything they made together. I also adored Abel’s Island by William Steig.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Even though I’ve read a few books since finishing Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, nothing has topped it.


Toronto Life

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: FW Ink.

Q: If you could time travel to any era, any place, where would you go?

A: Being three different ethnicities makes this a tough question, because in any time period but now people would be pretty confused. If that wasn’t an issue then 18th Century France (aristocracy, natch) purely based on my deep love for that aesthetic.

Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: Honestly? Work! I’ve just started full-time freelancing in February and I swing from euphoria to anxiety almost daily.


Wildsam Field Guide Brooklyn

Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?

A: Places for inspiration: The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the subway (best people watching), The Frick Collection

Books for inspiration: Pick of Punch, Saul Steinberg’s The Labyrinth, Quentin Blake’s Beyond the Page

Blogs/websites for inspiration: (when the new shows are up). I’m a big Tumblr person and can scroll for hours on my feed. I follow a lot of fashion Tumblrs run by 16 year olds for some reason.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: I feel like that one ‘aha!’ moment was stretched out over 3 years of busting my butt at art college (Alberta Collage of Art + Design, to be specific)—so many great instructors showing us so much great stuff. When the late, great Eugene Ouchi told me what Milton Glaser was really about, that really blew my mind.

Q: What advice would you give a young artist about applying to an art school or college?

A: Its so cliché but you really get out of it what you put into it. Talent can take you far but the best artists and designers I know work their tails off! Also, don’t be rigid and conform to a ‘style’. There is so much you don’t know about the world and yourself and limiting yourself will slow you down. Also—be neat and tidy. Craft!

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Fresh oysters, lobster, crab, mussels…if it carries it’s home on its back, it’ll be on my plate.


Sketchbook drawings

Lauren Tamaki is an illustrator, designer and sometime art director. Her clients include GQ Magazine, Lucky Peach, New York Magazine, Cole Haan, Good Magazine and The Walll Street Journal. Lauren can usually be found drawing in her studio apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Sketchbook TumblrInstagram Twitter



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