art studio: lauren rolwing.

Film and fashion are complex sources of artistic interpretation. They both seek simple truths that can be translated into an abstract visual narrative. Illustrator Lauren Rolwing draws on these same concepts in her depiction of runway events. Curvy and mysterious, Lauren's subjects are the anti-muse – flawed with intention and unexpected as an ideal. The artist shares some insight on her influences and technique below:


NAME: Lauren Rolwing | HOME GROWN: Nashville, TN | DAY JOB: Illustrator | DREAM JOB: Illustrator


COFFEE OR TEA: coffee, black | VINTAGE OR COUTURE: vintage, too clumsy for couture | SUCCESS OR FAME: success, genuine | SILVER OR GOLD: silver or rose gold, I can't decide. | APPETIZER OR DESSERT: dessert, vegan | SUMMER OR WINTER: winter, with loads of snow | MILD OR SPICY: spicy Indian, with a coconut yogurt lassi | NO REGRETS OR NO FEARS: no regrets!

Q & A.

JRL:  Your subjects are curvy and fashion fierce, is this a blatant rejection of the runway's version of reality?

LR:  In school, I took a fashion illustration class. We were taught that the croquis should be at least 9 heads tall, where the average person is only 6-7 heads tall. I have a great respect for traditional fashion sketching. I love the beautiful, elongated figures by artists and illustrators like Egon Schiele, Jarno Kettunen, Richard Gray, Rene Gruau, and Tony Viramontes. Drawing such elongated figures, never really came naturally to me. After the class ended, I didn't keep with it and stopped creating any fashion illustrations. Recently, my agent suggested I create some illustrations with people as the main focus. I wasn't quite sure what people to draw. I looked around my studio at the tall stacks of fashion magazines, and thought it would be good to try some fashion illustrations again. This time working on fashion illustrations, I was inspired by the same thing my other illustrations are inspired by: films, Henri Matisse paper cuts, Memphis design, American modernist art director and graphic designer Paul Rand, and Japanese graphic designer Ikko Tanaka, among others. I have always been fascinated by fashion, and I am so excited to tie two of my loves together.

JRL:  Your illustrations are a graphic documentary that highlights a taunting struggle - finding a balance between flawed and attainable perfection. Was this debate your intention? 

LR:  I think this just came naturally to me. In school, almost all of my illustrations were made by hand with colored paper and small scissors. Without the aid of the computer, it was very difficult to attain perfection, and that was never my intent. A wonderful professor showed me works by Polish poster artists and Eastern European illustrators. I found what I loved most about the work that she showed me was their lack of perfection. I tend to work very quickly to try to capture the image I have in my head. During this process, perfection is not an option. Sometimes, I would spend a very long time cutting a detailed shape out, and when I was finished, I ended up using the scraps on the floor instead. Now, I work on the computer, and use the pen tool instead of real scissors, but I try to keep the same spirit.   

JRL:  If eyes are considered the windows to the soul and your subjects lack that feature, is the suggestion that the fashion industry is an artistic statement that lacks depth? 

LR:  I believe my lack of eyes is more about putting the attention back on the clothes. I have noticed that as soon as you add this feature, that is automatically where the eyes of the viewer tend to go. There was a really fascinating study on eyes and how the eye sees that I read about in Cabinet Magazine, Issue 30. Years ago, the scientist Alfred L. Yarbus, developed something called "the cap" that was an apparatus with a tiny angled mirror that fit onto the subjects' eyes. A beam of light was directed to the viewer's eyes while they looked at a painting. Their eye movements were recorded exactly onto photosensitive paper. Although, I do feel quite sorry for the test subjects, it was really fascinating to actually see the precise path the viewer's eyes took. The faces in the work always received the most direct attention. If you Google his book, Eye Movements and Vision, you can see the results. Since these illustrations are fashion illustrations, I wanted the clothes to tell the story of the wearer rather than the other way around.

JRL:  If your self portrait could be translated into a runway show - what designers are featured? What songs or artists provide the music? Why?

LR:  I love this question!

– Rodarte for their love of film inspirations
– Stella McCartney for her use of animal friendly materials
– Raf Simmons for Christian Dior's artistic inspirations
– Jil Sander's beautiful design driven minimalism
– Yohji Yamamoto for his love of all shades of black
– Christopher Kane for his unexpected inspirations

For the music, I would have to say the soundtrack by Miles Davis for Louis Malle's film, Ascenseur pour l'échafaud.

JRL:  What is most inspiring about the art of fashion as your muse?

LR:  I would have to say the opportunity for reinvention! Each season, there is a chance to reinvent yourself and seek new inspirations to research.  


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Illustrations + photography created by and provided courtesy of Lauren Rolwing.

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