You have a very signature style Lauren — Can you explain your signature for us and have you had this style from the beginning? Also, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Lauren Webster and I’m an Australian Visual Artist. Like most of us my style is evolving but overall yes there is a language to how I make marks and represent things which tends to be quite bold with clean sharp lines and solid colours. I haven’t always worked this way… When I was younger I used to love drawing things realistically. Lots of shading and trying to get things ‘perfect’. I grew tired of that pretty quickly and I think during art school my work transitioned through a bit of a Egon Scheile/Toulouse Lautrec-ish vibe and then I paired it back, even more, to really simple line drawings for my first solo exhibition.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I’m looking forward to exhibiting more in the coming years as quite a lot of my energy has been going toward collaborative projects or one off commissions for the last little while. I can't wait to sink my teeth into creating a solid body of work again!
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?
A few people warned me that choosing the path of an artist wouldn’t be an easy one to take… this kind of chat really just went over my head and I clearly didn’t listen to it because I already knew this was likely to be the case. No part of me was choosing a life based on what might be free of challenge. I kind of think I just am an artist so that’s the way I lived and what I worked on. There are always challenges, I could list some but that’s probably boring to read, so I will just say that I have had challenges, I still have them and I do my best to grit my teeth and paint through them.
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
Oh man, for sure! I’ve totally had my time… I was a teeny-tiny little kid then kinda turned into a bit of a ‘chubbier’ human (whatever that means) as a teenager. Despite being confident in my brain and my abilities, physically I was super uncomfortable in my own skin for a while there.
When I see young girls today seeming so confident and body positive in a way that I don’t recall people around me being like that when I was growing up, I honestly smile and think, “You’re so damn cool” and I wish I could give a little of that to my younger self.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
I’d say I create from personal experience as well as from mythologies that I create and observe from popular culture, history, and my imagination. It’s not so much a narrative or a depiction of experience in a literal sense, but rather creating a world that the audience can assign their own feeling or stories to.
What’s it like being a woman in the creative industry? Do you find that it has its challenges at times?
I personally haven’t had any experiences as a female artist that have felt like a challenge that exists purely because of my gender. In the past, I have had commentary on my work, in particular, the depiction of my own body in my work which I believe would not have been communicated if it weren't for the fact that the body in question was a female body. It’s important to note however that this kind of thing isn't isolated to being an artist, it can occur anywhere in society.
What’s your favourite part of your body and why?
The first thing that comes to mind is my hands because they are what I use to create and I’d feel a little lost without that. Thanks, hands!
What’s your idea of empowerment?
I think empowerment is a feeling of strength and independence and the ability to use these things to make the choices that you want to make.
What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?
I feel like it’s quite hard to give advice on this because everyone is so different… but I would say think about what real shame it is to waste your precious and limited energy worrying about these things. Try to rise up above the rubbish and use that time and energy to do cool things instead.
As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?
I’m definitely still not the most confident person in this regard but maybe that’s just me being a bit reserved in general. Thankfully though, I just don’t really care about those things as much anymore. I just can't be bothered to lend any of my headspace to negative unproductive thoughts. Generally, if I’m healthy and active I’m feeling good.
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
Everyone should have a chance to play in the playground, so just play nice kids… kinda simple really.
Do you think there should be more talk on body image specifically in the creative industry and what do you think is missing when it is in the spotlight?
I’ve actually noticed recently that there is a lot more art being made, in the world of drawing and illustration for example, that really focus’ on this issue and which has a strong body positive message. I can only image that this kind of work speaks volumes to the audience that’s seeing it and I’m sure would be of real value to individuals who need to to surround themselves with that kind of message. It’s certainly one thing for people to talk about an issue, but creating art and allowing people to consume ideas and delve into them for themselves is another thing entirely. I think that angle is a powerful one when were talking about what the creative world can contribute to the conversation.