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Whimsical illustrations by Lauren Lee

Thanks Lauren aka @byloelee for taking part in our illustrators’ interview series!

How long have you been drawing?

I drew as a child, but not very seriously. It wasn’t until I graduated from university as a graphic design major that I redeveloped my passion for it. I always had an interest, but didn’t feel it was a viable career nor that I was very good. I practiced it everyday after my office job and soon it became another love.

What’s your process?

My process always starts with research. Normally, I have a specific concept or feeling I’m thinking of, but it’s hard for me to envision things exactly (for example, a hand’s posture/position). I also love being inspired by what other artists are creating, especially if their styles are very different from mine. After that, I start with a pencil sketch and fix it up as closely to the final as possible. Then I block the sketch with colors before going into linework.

How long does it take to create it?

It depends on the level of detail – something fun and simple can take as little as an hour or two. On average most of my works will take somewhere between three to thirty hours all-around.

Is it a hobby or your career?

It used to be a hobby, but starting last year, I was able to switch it into a full-time career!

Why do you draw?

I love to draw to tell stories and convey feelings I have a hard time putting into words. One day, I’d love to write and illustrate a book. My favorite subjects are mixing whimsical/childlike themes with everyday life – it turns subjects hard to understand into something relatable.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by mixed emotions and how to convey them simultaneously. For example, feeling lonely while being an introvert or trying to practice gratitude in moments of anxiety (things I think many people are trying to do during this pandemic situation). When I draw these feelings, it gives me a sense of both release and nostalgia. When others say they can relate, it helps us all not to feel as alone. 

What is the proudest moment that you have achieved?

My proudest moment would be at the very beginning of my career when I painted my first mural. It was during a time when I felt abused at the design agency I was working at. The day I resigned (after much deliberation) I reached out to my favorite coffee shop in New York and pitched them a mural in their shop. They accepted and together we collaborated on a 80 ft. black and white mural framing their name. To this day, it is one of my favorite projects and walking in there is a surreal experience every time! 

What is the biggest obstacle that you have faced?

Recently, the biggest obstacle I’ve faced in my career is the stunt of work due to COVID-19. This is an answer I’m sure many creatives, especially freelance or self-employed artists, can relate to. I recently went full-time freelance at the beginning of 2020. The volume of work was plenty at the time, however, the COVID situation has turned that momentum on its head. It’s hard when you feel a new beginning, especially one you’ve built up, has come to a sudden stop. The best we can do is be adaptable, come up with alternate creative solutions, and learn to breathe and take a break!

You have one day to live, how do you spend it?

I would be at home, with my family, my boyfriend, and our two dogs. I’d tell everyone I love that I love them, watch the entire Harry Potter movie series, and be surrounded by an unlimited amount of sushi and ice cream (eaten separately of course). I’d try to finish the outline of my book (so maybe a close friend can take over one day). 

How can people get in contact with you? 
People can contact me via email or instagram! I’m always happy to discuss commercial work and I have a special love for book covers, packaging and murals. 

Instagram & Dribbble: @byloelee


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