ARTIST OF THE WEEK: LEAH GORENNovember 3, 2017
Get to know Brooklyn-based illustrator Leah Goren…
Have you always been interested in art?
Yes—my mum is an artist and teacher, and so I grew up painting and making things with her for as long as I can remember.
How would you describe your style?
Painterly, feminine, loose.
You studied at Parsons School of Design – what was that like and how do you think going to art school influenced your style?
I studied illustration at Parsons, which taught me how to create an illustration for a client from start to finish, and how to cultivate concepts for pieces. At the time I was more interested in finding my style and making more decorative pieces that learning the editorial process, but certain classes and teachers influenced me greatly. I learned what supplies I loved, how to make a repeating pattern, screen printing onto fabric, and so much more that made me the illustrator I am now.
What are your favourite materials to work with and why?
I use Winsor & Newton gouache, which is like a heavier, opaque watercolour. I like how it can be layered, and how saturated the pigment is.
What topics and themes do you like to explore through your work?
I’ve been really into painting interiors from life over the past year. When I’m not working, I like to reset by painting my surroundings in my sketchbook. It feels really good to not think, and just observe what’s around me, and my sketchbook has become a visual diary of a lot of the places I’ve been and people I’ve been with.
Aside from that, I always love warming up by painting a floral. Drawing flowers feels so loose and free! I don’t think too much about these drawings as I’m doing them, and I’m often surprised by the movement, shapes, and colors that result. I can refer back to this as inspiration for other pieces.
What’s the Brooklyn art scene like and how does it inspire you?
I’m not sure how much I participate in the “scene” but I do love having a handful of close friends who live here who do similar work to me. It’s nice that we can always go to each other for advice, or even spend a quiet day drawing or working together.
What are your main inspirations?
Currently, I’ve been into my mom’s paintings of fishbowls from the 1970s, and an old book I have called Wild Flowers of America.
What’s your creative process like?
A client will approach me with a concept for a project, and from there I’ll send rough pencil sketches with different ideas for concept and composition. The client will then pick their favorite sketch or direction, and I’ll make a final piece based on it. Sometimes the client loves what I come up with, and sometimes there will be a bit of back-and-forth with revisions. Generally, this is how it always works, though the process can vary slightly depending on the client and scope of the project.
How do you feel that the internet and platforms like Instagram have changed the art scene?
It’s changed in so many ways, even since I graduated school in 2012, as Instagram only began shortly before then. The first thing it did was circulate a massive amount of images worldwide, and make styles and trends widespread. Everyone had access to everything, and a lot of work began to look similar. Clients also began to turn to Instagram to find artists and designers to hire, and now many of the people I work for saw me on there first. Instagram also created an entirely new way that brands advertise, and the type of work they commission. Many projects are created just for Instagram, and may revolve around the creator, or “influencer”, sharing it.
Have you got any projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I recently released a series of three floral vases with Anthropologie. I’m glad I can work with them to make my ceramics widely available and very reasonably priced, since so few people can have access to my handmade pieces. I’m looking forward to my next series of ceramics, along with home textiles, that will be at Anthropologie this Spring.