Fall in Love with Leona
With the tagline “Keep Loving Leona” there is no better way to ring in this Valentine’s Day then an interview with the one and only Lauren Leonard, the fabulous designer behind Leona clothing. Not only are her finished designs wearable fabric magic, but her sketches and designs are works of art in their own right.
Swoon along with me as Lauren shares how she finds inspiration and why she chose Nashville as her fashion haven.
Prismacolor Artist Interview with Designer Lauren Leonard
What is inspiration to you? What is Art? As I go through more seasons, the less literal and focused my inspiration becomes. I find inspiration in so many different places it is hard to peg. Color will always be my number one source of inspiration. Not just the colors themselves but also the ideas they evoke. I see a color and suddenly I see a specific time period, a texture, a mood, and a song among other things. My collections always start with color.
How did you start working as an artist? Literally from the time I could hold a drawing utensil I was working as an artist. Probably before I even knew what art was. Classmates would pay me a dollar to draw them something of their choice. I soon realized commissioned work really wasn’t my thing and that I would rather create based on what I feel passionately about. I guess that is what all artists want. Although it is difficult to think of myself as an artist, it is a world I felt plugged into very early on.
How do you get the creative juices flowing? With creativity you definitely have your on and off days. When I am feeling on, I try to push all of the business things aside and focus on design that day– though that’s not always realistic. I work with two very different parts of the brain on a daily basis. I may spend my morning calculating fabric yardages or writing specs, and my afternoon sketching. It is challenging to shift from two very different mindsets so regularly but that is fashion. Fashion is really art married with function. When I need to get in creative mode, I put the iphone away, turn away from the computer, put on some great music and just start drawing.
What’s your favorite “effect” you create in your work? OR Best art tip you ever got? The best effect is definitely when someone wears something they never pictured themselves in and learn to see themselves in a new way. They love what they see but are surprised by it. That is always fun!
Who/ what inspires you to create? My customers, and the garments themselves.
Can you tell us about your “process” for creating a new collection? It starts with color, the colors begin to tell a story and I follow that story and find inspiration from it. With effort it begins to evolve into a cohesive group.
What’s your favorite part of this job/ creative process? I have thousands of ideas and then I edit them down to something that makes sense for our retailers and our customers. I love the puzzle of grouping something together that is pragmatic versatile and ultimately functional and sellable. This is where the left-brain comes in and tries to make sense of it all. There is such a sense of achievement once I reach this finish line. BUT I am never happier than when I am in the throes of an all day designing session, free of direction. Those days are the best!
So many people move to NYC to pursue design, why did you choose Nashville as your fashion mecca? I grew up in Tuscaloosa, lived in Manhattan, Atlanta and now Nashville. All of these cities hold a special place in my heart. Nashville is the most welcoming city imaginable and there is a very rich art scene. The arts community has to be the most embracing around. The transition here was seamless and wonderful.
If you could have one super power what would it be and why? I think I would love to see the future, but then again our futures are what we make them right? That’s what I have built my life on. I guess that must be one of the more impossible super powers.
What Prismacolor products do you use and do you have any tricks for that particular medium? I use the colored pencils and markers. I almost always layer them together for my fashion illustrations. The shading and layering capabilities with Prismacolor markers is incredible. I have been using them non- stop since my first fashion illustration class 8 years ago. Shout out to Dr. Koontz! I always think about her while I am illustrating.
What does it feel like to have people wearing your work all over the country? A complete dream that I don’t think I will ever come to grips with. I just feel beyond blessed.
Do you ever show your work to others before its finished? Are you ever self-conscious about your work? My sketchbook is like a diary. Every design thought comes out on paper as I am thinking it without any filter. Sometimes it is terrible, but sometimes it is great. I never use pencils because I don’t believe in being able to erase “mistakes”. I love seeing the mistakes and the ideas they may conjure up. At the same time, I rarely like for anyone to see my sketchbooks, because it all feels very personal in those beginning stages of the process.
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who and why? Coco Chanel. No one has ever fascinated me more on a professional level.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers/artists? Never take for granted any opportunities to learn and grow. Take advantage of your surroundings, and immediately immerse yourself in the area that interests you in any way you can.
Favorite Prismcolor product: My markers, obviously.
Finish this sentence: “ I am…” ready to go draw after all of this art talk!