A Conversation with Lauren Song!
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
For the recorded interview, visit us on SoundCloud: A Conversation With Lauren Song!
Lauren Song is an artist from Dallas, Texas who now attends ArtCenter college in Pasadena, California. We sat down with Lauren who spoke to us about her journey, what
"personal style" means to her, and finding inspiration during the craziness of 2020.
Lauren told us that although she always enjoyed using art as an outlet throughout her childhood, she didn’t always think it was an option for her as a career. To her surprise, her parents were supportive and that helped her make the decision to pursue art.
“I always knew I enjoyed art, but I think for a while I thought I would have to choose a more “practical” and “stable” career. The city I grew up in is really a place people move to find a stable job, settle down, and raise a family. So I didn’t really know what an art career looked like. Clearly, I chose it nonetheless, and I really have no regrets.”
She admits ArtCenter has been rigorous, sometimes asking students to meet impossible goals, stressing the importance of developing “personal style” and finding what it is you most want to make. When asked how she “developed her personal style,” Lauren said this:
“'Developing a personal style' is kind of a huge pressure put on art students while simultaneously being given assignments that require all different methods of working and thinking. I used to stress about this a lot because I didn’t have myself completely figured out before stepping into art school. I guess the way I discovered my personal style was really having to be true to myself, weeding out what didn’t feel like me, and reflecting on all aspects of me despite the fear of being vulnerable."
When asked how she balances the work-load, time management, and pressure to develop her style, Lauren agreed it can be hard to remain inspired, and she noted that for many fellow students their breaks are spent totally art-free.
“I'm a Senior now which is weird and chaotic. At ArtCenter they try to milk so much from you in 14 weeks a term. So everyone's just trying to figure out who they are, but then trying to meet all these impossible goals and things like that. So I know a lot of us, during breaks, we actually do not touch art.”
And when asked if the intensive nature of art school ever caused any self doubt, she said:
“Definitely. It's kinda, like, the exhausting aspect of it. I think if you don't know who you are and what your style is and all that kind of stuff before ArtCenter, then it's really, really hard to figure it out. While having to meet all these demands. And even if you do, you get lost because these professors will try to change it. They obviously mean well, but I definitely went through a lot of questioning what I was doing. What am I like? What am I supposed to make? And I definitely had trouble with feeling like I have a right to take up space with my art and have a voice. There are definitely students whose stories are so inspiring. And I'm just like, I’ve lived a pretty regular life. Everyone seems to have something to bring so it's hard to acknowledge your own value as a storyteller and artist!”
However, she told us that beyond any doubt or fear, art-school has been super exciting and a motivating means of cultivating her skills amongst her peers with shared interests. She said the shift that occurred when moving from her hometown in Dallas to Los Angeles was a very positive experience for her.
“I think it was more exciting than scary. It was like for the first time everyone around me shared the same views and was interested in the same things I was. And I'd never experienced an environment like that before. It was just really nice to have friendships that were built upon what you want to do rather than just being friends and sharing some like common interests. It was really inspiring and motivating rather than intimidating. It is intimidating, but in a good way.
Lauren told us she journaled a lot as a kid, and liked the privacy of it. She compared this to the abstract art she enjoyed making, and described the importance of shapes in her work and their ability to convey the strong emotions she was feeling,
“I experienced some abuse as a child and using the time I spent alone in my room drawing helped me process everything visually. Journaling helped me a lot and just doodling in class or like anything on paper, I guess. It started off with me finding abstraction. For a while I really delved into that because it allowed me to make art for myself, and no one would know what it meant. It was just like journaling in a way. People could take away different things from it, but they wouldn’t know the full story unless I said it, and through that I found a lot of ways to draw shapes that really felt like how I was feeling, but on paper. I put a lot of symbols in my work that I feel translate things like anxiety, depression, confusion, grief. I draw inspiration from my peers and artists I look up to.”
We then discussed her shift from abstraction to more clear and poignant pieces,
"For a long time I thought abstraction would be the direction I’d take with my work. It was a way for me to pour things out without having to be too vulnerable. It was for me and whoever it spoke to, but even they wouldn’t fully get to know what the piece meant. But recently, I’ve realized I want to connect with people through my art. I really want to make work that people can easily take away from. I know getting to know other people’s stories helped me heal when I saw myself in their stories. I hope I can make books, and just tell stories that allow me and others to heal together.”
On making art during Covid-19, Lauren was quick to recognize the positive aspects, noting that it made her feel a lot more comfortable releasing and selling work,
“I actually have been really excited about this, and I’ve been talking to my friends a lot. Art Center makes you feel so insecure about your art, that whenever you wanna sell it you’re like, ‘oh I’m not ready yet, I’m gonna graduate first and then maybe sell a print,’ but with Covid, everyone’s just been making whatever the hell they want to make and selling that shit, so it’s been really, a nice reminder that we are worth something. And it’s cool how Covid shifted that.”
She also noted that she’s used this period of time to address her mental health, as well as to work on feeling confident in her field, taking up the space she desires. (Which we think is a very big and bright space!)
“I definitely was less productive for a bit. But in the more “free time” I have, I thought I would take advantage of this time to really work on my mental health. It’s something I have put off for about 8 years, and it has only become more ruthless and overbearing on top of all my other responsibilities. I think it was a great investment because I already feel a shift in myself. I’m starting to really make work for myself and be more confident in taking up the space I deserve, so I feel excited to see where my work goes from here.”
We discussed that by simply being a new voice, and especially a voice that indeed pushes the boundaries of the majority cis-white-male dominated art world, her art has worth,
“I think a lot of white, cis, straight men dominate the art world. Recently I found out it’s way more than we think it is. It’s like 80%. That’s 30% non-men of color. That’s also why I’m like, my voice matters! We depend so much on these professors, and these professors are also cis straight white men so it’s really just having that representation, having that voice, just being [cat interruption] just like, I don’t see my own voice as being anything so special, but more of just participating in a bigger thing. I had to learn that I was allowed to take up space with my art. That's a whole lesson - that you're allowed to physically exist."
Places To Find Lauren:
Additional Artists To Check Out:
Milo Schureman @visitorparking
Desiree Enano @desenano
Sarah Chon @chons.s
Kaylynn Kim @notkaylynnkim