Meet Lauren Airriess. Lauren is an extremely talented character and visual developer, illustrator, and artist living in San Francisco, California, and currently working as a sketch artist and animator at Pixar Animation Studios. For years, Lauren has been creating and sharing work through her online blog Tula Noodle, and professionally contributing to works on feature length animations such as Tangled. Lauren has exhibited work at Light Grey Art Lab in Searching for Secrets during the Message and a Bottle Exhibition and in the current In Place Exhibition. We are excited to get to know Lauren more, hear about her process, and get the inside scoop!
What are some of your favorite projects so far? Professionally or personally, what projects have moved you to create?
I absolutely loved working on Tangled. The mood and look they were going for when I was on the project was in Rembrandt's style, which I absolutely love. It was my first experience on an animated feature, and I couldn't have asked for more. I feel like when you have a director who really inspires, and a theme and style that hit a chord with you, the artwork just comes flowing out, and you never want to stop.
Has your experience working on animations shaped the way that you think about space, environments, and experience of places?
I have been working either on getting into animation or in animation ever since I was eight or nine, so I wouldn't even know how to do things in a different way. I would say that in the animation world, everything has to be influenced by the main character and how they are feeling at that moment in time. If the character is sad, that will effect the environment, lighting, composition etc. Everything you draw has to tell a story about that character.
You create spectacular and intricate backgrounds everyday and there are so many interesting places around the earth, so how did you select or find inspiration your location for In Place?
I have had this weird reoccurring dream ever since I was a kid about a Victorian conservatory. It was usually kind of run down and overgrown, so I thought that the Palacio De Cristal would be a good choice because it was gutted after left abandoned for a many years. I brought it back to its more wild state. It's now used as a gallery space for sculpture and art installation.
What was your research and development stages like for In Place?
I started by looking up different observatories and the stories behind the architects who created them. Observatories became a kind of status symbol for cities all over the world. The goal was to create the largest, most elaborate collection of foreign plant species - almost like a plant zoo. They weren't just used by scientists to study exotic plants; they were also used to house fantastic parties. I found the juxtaposition very interesting.
Can you tell us what projects you currently have in the works? What is on your personal agenda?
I am developing my own idea based off a Finnish folktale called the Forest Bride. This is really just for my personal development and to teach me to create a world from scratch. It's been challenging, but I have learned a lot.
On top of your professional work, you are creating plethora of personal work, and we are impressed by the amount and variety you make in your free time. Could you talk a little about the differences in approach to personal and professional work? What keeps you motivated?
I try to do the kind of work at home that I am not doing at that moment for the studio. Either creating pieces in a flat graphic style that fit more into the illustration world, or with styles or plot lines that speak to me. Doing things in different styles at home enables me to stay fresh creatively.
What are some of your favorite themes, types of characters, things to make?
Coming of age stories. On a design level, I love movies that have a lot of organic elements. Either with a lot of vegetation, or architecture that falls more on the organic side, with a lot of character and flowing lines. I would say that I like period films the most, but it all depends on the story.
What are some other types of media/people (other artists, books, television, movies) that you are inspired by?
Oh man, I get inspired by so many artists. I would have to say my go to guys are the giants in the art world, such as Toulouse Lautrec, Rembrandt, Monet, Sargent, and Waterhouse. I love their sense of design and color, their worlds are so rich. But on the other hand, whenever I get in a tough spot with something I am working on, I go straight to my Tumblr feed. It helps to see that people are constantly creating new art, and it makes me feel like creating good artwork is possible and within my reach.
You can check out more of Lauren's work on her website or blog, and you can see and purchase her work for the In Place Exhibition and Book here!