Interview with Laura Lester in this showcase series of MCA student artists and their work in the final year of Memphis College of Art
StoryBoard: How long have you been practicing your artwork?
Laura Lester: I’ve honestly been creating art my entire life. I loved art classes as a kid, and I distinctly remember owning several Disney coloring books that I filled with scribbles of my own instead of coloring in the lines.
Have you always worked in your current medium? What other mediums have you worked in?
I tend to shift mediums frequently as a result of always wanting to learn how to use new tools. I’ve recently been primarily creating art digitally with Procreate on the iPad Pro and with Adobe CC programs on my laptop, but I’ve worked extensively with charcoal, acrylics, gouache, watercolor, color pencils, ink, and polymer clay, just to name a few. Pencil and paper, though, will always remain a constant tool that I won’t be able to completely detach myself from. I think that goes for nearly all artists, really.
How young were you when you started becoming passionate about your artwork?
I had always drawn and created artwork as a kid, but I didn’t realize the wide scope of what I could do until 5th grade. I was at recess with my best friend at the time, and she showed me her sketchbook that she had just gotten, and she showed me all of the drawings she’d started filling it with. That afternoon, I asked my grandmother to take me to get my own sketchbook, and I never looked back.
How did your artwork, in your youth, make you feel?
It made me feel powerful and limitless when growing up, and it technically still makes me feel that way. I never feel better than when I’m creating artwork. As I’ve gotten older, It’s also become a source of comfort and peace whenever I’m feeling stressed or anxious.
How would you describe your “eye” when you work? Are you intuitive in your work, or do you have a specific technique in mind?
It definitely depends on what I’m specifically working on. A lot of my more comics-based work, such as designing characters and mapping out comic panels, I typically problem solve and make decisions on the fly as I go, with only a script to guide me. A lot of my personal art is art that I create without a specific plan in mind, I just have a very rough Idea of what I want to create. All of my graphic design and client-based artwork, though, begins with extensive planning and sketching.
How does your work speak to you? What do you feel you are communicating with your work?
I’ve noticed recently that I tend to incorporate a lot of the imagery I grew up around in my personal work. I like to combine the stereotypical religious imagery I grew up with, such as halos, flowers, etc. with subject matter that typically would not be depicted as holy or divine. I also like to think that I always tell some kind of story with my work; the first sketchbooks that I owned were filled with animal characters that had their own identities and stories that surrounded them, and to this day I’m never able to create something that I feel doesn’t have some kind of narrative element to it.
Is there a Memphis “style?” If so (or if not), how would you describe it?
When I think of a Memphis “style,” I think about the new generation of artists that are turning, or will turn, the art world in Memphis on its head. I especially think of the artists I met at Memphis College of Art. Memphis art has always had a heart and soul to it that I feel has always made it stand out in the past, but the art I see my peers creating combines that quintessential heart and soul with an edge.
Where and how can your work be found, or purchased?
I have an Instagram that I regularly use and post on, and you can find me under the username @lurartworks. I currently don’t have an online store, but I do frequent small art festivals and conventions in the area. For any fellow anime and comics nerds out there, I’ll be at Anime Blues Con this summer with a lot of exciting new work.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists or art students?
Laura Lester: I’ve found that no matter what level you’re at, you’re always going to have times where you feel like all you’re making is “bad art.” The best way out of those slumps for me is to keep creating, and try new mediums and techniques. Experiment with something you’ve never tried before. <>