SOHO House Chicago with Lauren Asta
On a tour of America, Artist Lauren Asta is Aprils featured artist at the SOHO House Chicago. With the graffiti on green project continuing, Lauren was a perfect choice. For myself I like to involve the artists own voice understanding that things sometimes get lost in translation. I had an opportunity to ask her some questions and of course I had to ask question #5 as a lot of the artists featured also work illegally.
1. So as you were painting we were talking about how you were painting in Chicago. Where are you going on your tour and how did you come up with this idea?
Taking the leap of faith about one year ago to do art full time, meant turning hustle switch on full blast. Getting praise and feeling successful on your home turf is a great feeling, but at some point you gotta take the show in the road… Just like a band. It’s the ultimate test for myself as an artist. Finding ways to continue surviving as a human solely of making art on this journey and taking this time to seriously concentrate on my art career. It is also a way to grow as an artist, to see what else is happening in the art world outside of my home bubble. Recently I got a very lucrative mural job outside of California. Since the job was already going to get me out on the road and give me some financial freedom, I absolutely knew it was now or never. I gave up my apartment and packed up all my belongings in storage. I’m two months into the journey, with four cities and four murals under my belt. I’m going to keep riding this train as long as I can.
2. As a female artist do you feel like you get asked questions by passersby that would never be asked if you were male?
I think there’s a lot of truth behind this question. Besides having the guts to actually make public art, street artists have to deal with the nitty gritty of the “execution” of the art process. Things like scissor lifts to get to extremely high places, wobbly ladders, priming and prepping a wall, cold weather, time/completion expectations, etc. “Some” might not see this fit for a female to attack as a full time career. This “some” of the population I’ve come across is indeed smaller than the “others” that give me the high fives, but the “some” is out there for sure. Ready to give their opinion freely at anytime. I’ve had older men watch in disbelief that I can actually drive a scissor lift. Or watch in disbelief that I’d prime and paint (3 coats) a 3,000 sq ft wall by hand to prep a mural. Beyond the nitty gritty, the questions I am asked range from pure curiosity to borderline rude. A reoccurring one is “are you a real artist?” I’m baffled by this one. Is the question meant as a compliment? Am I just doing this as a hobby? Could I actually be working successful artist… Let alone a working successful female artist? I don’t know too many other female street artists to be quite honest. Which is sad and could be part of the problem. It is a dirty job and I’ve found is greatly dominated by a male population. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I’ve chosen to follow a “non traditional” lifestyle. My devotion and energy is all focused on my art career.
3. You used several what seemed like random words in both of your murals. Are these real words and why/how do you choose them?
I love words. I love the sounds that words make. Mellifluous is a favorite word and it actually means sweet sounding and pleasant to hear. I love that. I also love the way words look, in the same way I love the way a drawn hand or face looks. Drawing my characters and words have gone simultaneously together for as long as I can remember. Some of the words I use are real and some are made up. I suppose I love the combination of words and images for the simple fact that a viewer can look at a piece of art and ask “what does it mean?” The same way a viewer can look at a word they are not familiar with and ask “what does it mean?” I think it just reiterates the fact that you don’t necessarily need to know the meaning of art (or a mellifluous word) to enjoy it.
4. It’s always good to see artists working with other artists. Who inspires you and who would you like to collaborate with?
While I was in Chicago I was fortunate to meet a couple of local street artists. One of which was JC Rivera. I would love a chance to collaborate with him, not only because of his work but also because of his work ethic. Out of Chicago I am very inspired by an Italian street artist named Millo (Francesco Camillo Giorgino). He also works black and white and takes on massive murals.
5. Does your mom know what you do?
Yes. And she discovered Facebook recently so mom is all up in the know.