Illustrators We Love: Curious Lauren

WORDS Cheri Morris

Lauren Colin Mitchell is a self-proclaimed “annoyingly curious” art director, designer and illustrator that goes by the name of Curious Lauren. We caught up with her to find out more about how she got into design, her style and her favourite thing about being creative.

Tell us about your work.

My work intends to be a voice for marginalised and oppressed individuals and my projects run deep with strong messages of empowerment, equality, self-care and inclusivity. The undertone of my personal work is usually quite serious, with bright, inviting colours and styles that juxtapose the harsh statements. I try to use my work as a way to open a very necessary dialogue about something that might be difficult to address in words.

Curious Lauren

How did you get into it?

I came very close to never getting into what I do now because I almost failed my first year at university because I couldn’t draw, ha! From there, it happened naturally when more of my full-time work required me to be able to illustrate. And so, from doing it almost every day and envying artists online, I thought it was time that I would give it a go myself. I still catch myself daydreaming about how far I’ve come.

Tell us about your style.

My style is wholly influenced by the messages behind my work. Because my messages can be quite serious, I contrast them with a bright, bold and inviting execution style that is friendly and easy to consume, regardless of the hard-to-stomach messages. That way, people are more likely to understand and absorb it.

Who or what inspires you?

Wow, I admire so many creatives that it makes me sad, jealous and happy at the same time when I think about how great they are. I love David Shirley’s work, it’s really dark yet playful and completely absurd. I am Rich Mnisi‘s biggest fan, he knows this. The talent we have locally is finally competing on a global stage and I am so here for it.

Andrea Wan is an artist whose work is filled with existential dread and a glimmer of human hope – it’s beautiful. I’m also inspired by the people I work with every day and the mischief we get up to. And lastly, women. Women inspire me: everything they do, go through, overcome and achieve, politically, socially, economically and generally. I am inspired daily to be a better woman. I try to tell those stories through my work.

Describe the physical space in which you create your art.

Most of my work is digital, so I would be sitting at my semi-messy desk filled with paint, Copic markers, plants, my laptop and my trusty Wacom tablet – or I’ll be in my bed, but we won’t talk about that. When I paint or physically draw, I either tackle it on the floor or outside in the sun.

What is your favourite thing about being creative?

I think to be able to change people’s perspectives, or even (going big here) the world, through the work you make is a pretty extraordinary privilege and opportunity. I also love the freedom you have in terms of how you can think about things, look at things and talk about things – there are very few boundaries in how you can create something.

Where can people purchase your work?

I sell most of my work directly through my Instagram, @curious_lauren. People can DM/mail me to purchase prints, commission once-off pieces or hire me for bigger illustrative projects. A few of my prints are also available through Something Good Studio – they stock a super-rad range created by local female artists called the Girls Club Gallery. Support your local girl gangs!

What are you working on at the moment?

I spend most of my personal time working on big projects, of which I have quite a few coming up. I can’t spill all the tea, but I can say I’m working with Something Good Studio on textiles, as well as working on another project with a powerhouse, female-owned fashion label in Cape Town. In addition to this, I’m juggling a lot of bespoke branding and illustrative projects with working full-time as an art director at King James. I know it sounds like a lot but at least I am never bored.

What’s next for you? 

Hopefully a week load of sleep and maybe a couple weeks of vacation somewhere nice – it’s unlikely but a girl can dream. I am currently just putting my head down, working and learning as much and as hard as I can to make way for an exciting and successful career ahead of me. Big things are coming in 2020 and hopefully every day, month and year after that!

Love Lauren’s bold work? Keep up with her here.

Looking for more inspirational local art? Take a look at Lorraine Loots work.