Interview: Local Artist Lauren Marx On Art in STL
Sitting in local artist Lauren Marx’s Midtown apartment is actually a sneak peek into her studio. It’s where she spends 80 hours a week working on art for shows that are as far as a year away. With one wall covered in skulls and antlers, and another wall adorned with plants and greenery, it’s easy to see that Marx’s style is a part of her. Having graduated with an art degree from Webster University, Marx has now taken an apartment in the city and is living out the dream of being solely an artist. So far so good, but as most new artists know, it’s not always easy to sell prints to pay rent.
With one hand wrapped from an art-related injury, Marx is forced to take a week off from work which she says “is probably good for her”—considering she hasn’t taken a day off in two years. Lucky for me, this allowed time to sit down and talk with Marx about how her career has transitioned and where we can find her work in the future.
When did you start creating art?
While I was in college for art. It took me a year or two to realize ‘Oh, I’m in college for art, I should probably do this.’ I had back-ups just in case. It’s not really realistic to try to make being a traditional artist a career, unless you’re in graphic design, illustration, etc.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
John James Audubon
How did you find your style?
It was a lot of appropriating from art that I liked, and figuring out what it was that I liked about their work. As years went on, it kind of developed into it’s own thing. I don’t really try to draw in certain styles when I’m making them, they just kind of come out that way. The main thing different from a lot of similar artists is that I do not draw people. I’m sure I could draw them fine, but it’s not really my thing. I like texture, like fur and scales and feathers.
Walk me through the process of creating a signature piece.
The first thing would be, usually when I’m first waking up in the morning, taking a shower or walking somewhere, I come up with an image in my head, a fuzzy little blurry image that could be a drawing. Then over the next day or two, I figure out what I want in the drawing and then it’s a long process of finding reference images—usually about 50 to 100—things that help pick species or different angles.
Then to actually create a piece, I don’t really sketch unless the piece is incredibly important. Then I’ll just grab paper, whatever size I think is good, and I’ll start with pencil, outline in pen, some coloring and some detailing in pen, then all color. I use ink pencils for most of it and ink wash for the background and a lot of other materials for little details and highlights. Usually an 18×24 takes about 80 hours for a drawing.
How much time do you spend on art per day?
Generally I try to work at a job 8 hours a day. Anywhere between six and 12 is pretty normal. I try to work on them everyday; I don’t take weekends off.
What is it like being an artist in St. Louis?
I love the city. I want to live here for the rest of my life, but the art scene is very small and it’s almost segregated. You have Cherokee Street, and that’s pretty much it for art out in the wild. Or The Grove, I guess with all those murals. It’s just kind of hard to find other artists; we’re all scattered around. So it tends to be pretty quiet, but I also kind of like that. I wouldn’t want to live in a city where everyone is an artist. That would be too much.
Showing in Roq La Rue in Seattle. They are a really big gallery; I was really honored. I went from showing only in St. Louis to getting a show there.
Money, by far. Being an illustrator—just because of the market—I can’t really charge as much as someone would for a painting of the same size. Drawing is considered a cheaper medium. Especially with social media these days, if people really want a piece, they will just steal it. Also, with the recession, it’s really hard to sell work.
Where will you be showing next?
Next immediate show is “The 4th Year Anniversary” show at Flower Pepper Gallery in Pasadena, California. “The Platinum Blend” show at Modern Eden Gallery in January. Gallery representation by Alexi Era Gallery for all of 2016 which is sort of local, but no dates have been finalized. And a solo show at Corey Helford Gallery in November 2016 in Culver City, CA.