Last year, my fiancé bought me everything I would need to start painting with watercolor. I had no idea where to begin, so naturally, I hopped on YouTube and learned from a really old man painting in his kitchen. I painted a leaf. I was thrilled. Over the next few months, I continued mixing colors on dinner plates (palettes, shmalettes) and if you asked any five year old, I was a modern-day Georgia O’Keeffe. By that logic, Lauren Engel would have invented watercolor and judging by her incredible collection, that actually doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Her artwork is a stunning illustration (sorry, I had to) of how colorful her future will be and her spirit? Well, it’s just downright marvelous. Get ’em, girl – paint your dream.
NAME Lauren Taylor Engel
LOCATION Sacramento, California
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from Hawaii Pacific University
COMPANY Lauren Taylor Creates
Tell me a bit about yourself & where you were prior to launching Lauren Taylor Creates. I grew up in a small town in the Central Valley of California. From the age of two, I was obsessed with color and was always drawing and painting. At the age of six, I entered a national art contest and won second place. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist. However, my teen years were filled with uncertainty about pursuing a career in art. My family convinced me that business was a more practical and secure path to follow. At 17, I moved to Hawaii to attend college at Hawaii Pacific University and studied International Business. I suppressed my passion for creativity. I would paint here or there, but it really wasn’t until my Junior year of school, when I was studying abroad in Seville, Spain that I began to paint consistently. Exposure to international influences and traveling around Europe gave me a serious case of wanderlust and artistic inspiration. I began investing in art materials that were easy to travel with and painted during any waking moment possible. Slowly, I began reevaluating what was most important to me. I realized I wanted to create a lifestyle for myself where I could live out my two greatest passions: traveling and creating. In 2011, I came upon Etsy where I built my shop, Lauren Taylor Creates. It wasn’t until last year, however, that I began honing my skills as a serious artist!
At six years old you knew you wanted to be an artist. Talk about foresight! What ultimately encouraged you to turn your passion into a career? Putting pencil to paper is the time I feel most confident. The desire to create combined with a determination to travel made it clear that I needed to create my own business so I could pursue my two passions! With orders coming in every day, I feel privileged to create art that people not only want to own but feel a connection to.
You have a varied collection, with artwork done in pencil, acrylic & watercolor. Do you have a favorite medium? I’ve been painting with acrylics the longest, but watercolor is my favorite. It can be challenging and unpredictable, but that’s one of the reasons I like it! I’m continually learning new techniques and pushing myself to try new things.
Much of your collection has a trendy and vintage-inspired feel to it. Where do you draw (no pun intended!) your inspiration? How has it changed over the years? My inspirations come in many forms. Vintage magazines, the latest runway fashion, everyday people and spontaneous moments! I’ve always really loved drawing people. I like that I’m able to exaggerate different features and at the same time, highlight key characteristics that make that person recognizable. Over the years, my inspirations and style have changed and I’m sure they will continue to evolve. When I was little, I loved painting horses. In Europe, I mostly painted historical landmarks and unusual architecture. Now, my main inspiration is fashion!
The Red Dress print stands out as a particularly exquisite display of your talent. When you set out to paint that piece, where did you begin? Tell me about your creative process. Thank you! I created that painting Spring of 2013. Sometimes I think up an idea for a painting and then go looking online for pictures to use to make the idea come to life. Other times, I see a picture that just speaks to me. With the Red Dress painting, it was the latter. My inspiration was a photograph on Pinterest. I fell in love with the colors, the dress, the mood, everything! I knew I had to paint it. I began by pencil drawing the silhouettes of the girl and the dog on canvas, then outlined the sketch with acrylic paint. Once that dried, I did a thin wash of Burnt Sienna over the entire canvas. It’s easier to paint over paint, so doing this step was critical. I then added blocks of color; flesh tones, red for the dress, light brown for the hair, etc. Next, I focused on filling in the details. Getting the face and expression just right was important to me! I’ve been commissioned to recreate the Red Dress painting multiple times since the original!
What does a day in the life of Lauren Engel look like? I’m currently working a full time job, so any free time I have I spend on my business! My work schedule fluctuates, so that means my painting schedule does, as well. Because I have an always changing schedule, I keep a list of things to do and a very detailed calendar. I get sidetracked easily, so it’s important for me to prioritize and to stay organized. Emails, orders and commissioned paintings take priority as those are time sensitive. Once I have those out of the way I work on my technique, brainstorm and paint new products for my website! I’m definitely a night owl and love to work late into the wee hours. The silence and the stillness of nighttime motivates me and I find I’m able to focus and be really productive. Lately, a large portion of my time has gone to the launch of my new website. I’m so excited to have my own website on WordPress! Etsy has been great, but I felt like I needed a space that I could customize and make my own. My new website gives me that freedom and I’m so, so in love with how it turned out!
Since launching Lauren Taylor Creates, what has been your greatest moment? Recently, I was commissioned for my largest project to date! I created seven custom illustrations for an online store called Shop BURU. They used the illustrations on the invites to their New York Fashion Week event!
Fast-forward five years. What does Lauren Taylor Creates look like? In five years, Lauren Taylor Creates will be my full-time focus. I’m looking forward to being able to work from anywhere in the world and plan on taking full advantage of that and traveling all over! I’m also really excited to see how my technique changes and my style evolves. I’m still pretty early in my career as an artist, so I’m always trying to learn new styles and improve. In the future, I’m looking forward to collaborating with more brands, companies, bloggers, influencers, etc. I love working with people and creating something that is unique and special to them! I would also love to see my work on products other than paper! I can’t wait to see where my art takes me!
Cake or pie? Can I say both?
Guilty pleasure? Reality TV shows like The Bachelor and Real Housewives of Orange County! I can binge watch them all day long!
Go-to breakfast? A green smoothie! I have to balance all of the sweets I eat.
Song you can’t help but sing along to? Anything by Mariah Carey or Britney Spears
Favorite animated movie? FernGully! It was the first movie I saw in theaters. My mom said I danced in the aisle while the movie was playing!