The Q&A: Lauren Rolwing

By Peggy Roalf   Monday February 29, 2016

Q: Originally from Knoxville, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [Nashville]?

A: Being close to, and seeing family often, is my favorite thing about living and working in Nashville. I also love that Nashville has a great art scene, with an amazing art museum in Nashville's original art deco post office.  

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

A: I do not currently keep a sketchbook, but I do keep more of an online collection of inspiring images. Everything from interior design, to film stills, to photos of fashion shows and beautifully plated, minimal food presentations inspire my compositions and color palettes.  

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

A: I would say my computer is the most important tool in my studio. I work on it every day to create illustrations, and I cannot imagine working without it.   

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

A: My favorite thing about my studio is the light. Having lots of natural sunlight, inspiring art books, brightly colored furniture, and usually at least one cat, helps to create a space where I feel comfortable working in and experimenting in each day. If I had to pick an area to improve, it would have to be organization. Even though it is unorganized, I do know where everything is. Usually I am unable to find anything after I attempt to organize. 

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

A: After I get a color palette, the basic shapes, and the layout completed, I will move objects around like a digital collage until I am happy with the rhythm and composition. I will also duplicate the illustration, drag it outside the artboard and experiment deleting different elements. If an object doesn't add to the concept or have a major impact on the aesthetics of the piece, usually it will go. I don't like to have a lot of unnecessary shapes or details that do not serve a specific purpose.  

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: My favorite childhood book would be any books by Eric Carle. His illustrations were always my favorites growing up, and I remember loving the way the delicious foods looked in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, especially the fruits and candies. I loved the story of the Baba Yaga as well. The visual imagery is so creative.  I remember being absolutely fascinated by imagining what a hut that stood on chicken legs looked like. I also closely associated with the main character's kindness to animals. Giving care to animals in need has always been important to me.  

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

A: Most recently, the book I come back to time and time again is Craig Frazier’s The Illustrated Voice. It has had a profound impact on the way I approach illustration concepts. I was able to hear Mr. Fraizer speak at an event at The Savannah College of Art and Design, and it was extremely inspiring as well. 

I also love the magic realism of L'Écume des jours or Froth on the Daydream, depending on the which translation by Boris Vian, and any books by Haruki Murakami. I also love the books by David Sederis, which I have to read in complete privacy because I drive people crazy laughing when I read any of his stories.  

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

A: If I had to choose one medium, it would be cut paper. I have always loved the geometric aspect that lends itself so well to collage. I also like being able to move the separate pieces around until I am happy with the composition. Also, I am terrible at remembering to wash brushes, and always end up ruining them. I like that in collage, I can walk away for a while and come back and pick up right where I left off.  

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

A: If I had to pick one, I would have to say the 1950's -1960's in Poland. I love the artist-driven film posters of this era. They make me curious to see the film and I feel like they offer so much more of the artist than a lot of posters do that solely focus on the main stars' headshots or a still from the film. Specifically, I absolutely love the posters by Waldemar Swierzy for Sunset Boulevard, and Mieczyslaw Wasilewski's poster for Three Women. If I could pick two, I would pick NYC in the age of Paul Rand and Saul Bass.  

Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: In the summertime, I teach workshops for kids. This summer, I will be working with a group to explore a wide variety of fashion topics, including illustration and history. I am currently collecting historical reference images of how world events shaped trends and every aspect of the world of fashion, including hair and makeup. My best find has been a fashion show from the 1930's where different designers created looks that they imagined people wearing in the year 2000. Attempting to overlook horrible, stereotyped gender roles, they did manage to accurately predict climate change and mobile telephones, even if it was a full-sized receiver attached directly to the chest.   

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

A: My favorite places for inspiration include people watching at IKEA, used or new bookstores, and websites like It's Nice That.  

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

A: When my professor showed me a book by the Czech illustrator, Kveta Pacovaska, it was like being struck by lighting. I fell in love with the energetic, colorful, and brilliant compositions throughout her children’s books. Her works inspired me to have fun with my work and thoroughly cemented my love of bright, bold colors. 

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: After being carried out of the movie Babe in hysterics, as a child, I stopped eating meat. I more recently stopped eating dairy, so for my last meal, I would love a dish full of bright and colorful fruits and vegetables. Maybe a coconut soup with coriander and mushrooms to start, something like kelp noodles with peanut sauce and chopped vegetables for the main dish, and some fresh fruit with tahini sauce for dessert and lots and lots of black coffee.  


Lauren Rolwing works as an illustrator. She has worked freelance since graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design, with clients such as Adidas, New York Times, and Harper's Bazaar NL. Concept is at the heart of her work, and she prefers to use color, shape, and composition to express her ideas while omitting any unnecessary details.


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