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Lauren Rose, an Artist in Tokyo - The Visual Artist's Spotlight, Season 1 Episode 1



ABOUT THIS PODCAST:


The Visual Artist's Spotlight is an interview based podcast that uncovers an artist's world. Miko Hayashi interviews various artists around the world with one question in mind: how does the world they experience shape their creative output? Each episode will feature one artist, each with their own artistic mediums. Find out how the life they live shape the art they make. To find out when new podcast episodes will happen, follow Miko on Instagram @MimiHanaThreads. You can also hear the interviews live as they happen on Clubhouse at the "Stitch and Bitch" club. All members who join the live interview give permission to be recorded and shared on this podcast channel, and are notified beforehand that they will be recorded before joining



To listen to the recorded podcast, please search for "The Visual Artist's Spotlight" on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Audible, or the RSS site.




Today's episode:

Lauren Rose is a New York native artist, who moved at the age of 9 to Florida. She has always been an artist and a creative spirit, and the slow life in Florida left her thirsty for more. Formally educated as a counselor, she actively seeks new cultures and people to connect with, and uses her worldly experiences to inspire her artwork. Listen in and find out how her international homes give her a new perspective in her creative drive. You can follow Lauren on Instagram @lrose_studios to see her art yourself.


Below is the transcript of the live interview conducted on Clubhouse on March 31st, 2021.


Miko Hayashi

Welcome to the visual artists spotlight, the podcast where we interview artists from around the world discovering how their world inspires their art.


I'm your host, Miko Hayashi, leader of the "Stitch and Bitch" club on Clubhouse, and owner of Mimi Hana Threads, a handmade 3D embroidery company that creates beautiful wearable art accessories. Today's guest is Lauren Rose, an American artist currently living in Tokyo.


Lauren, welcome, and thank you for being my very first guinea pig.


Lauren Rose

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.


Miko Hayashi

So, Lauren why don't you introduce yourself first?


Lauren Rose

Sure. My name is Lauren Rose. Rose is my last name, and I moved to Tokyo in November 2020. I'm originally from the United States. I've lived in New York, Florida and California before moving abroad. I have a background actually in counseling. I think that having that technical training in counseling really puts me in the mindset of intentionality, which is kind of just it's a nice, easy flow into art.

I've always been an artist. I've always really enjoyed making things with my hands, and now that I live abroad, I've been so inspired by everything around me that I can't contain it. I have to create. So recently, I've moved into paper art, and I know we'll be talking more in depth about that. I went from acrylic art, I dabbled in watercolor, and wash. I even bought a bunch of polymer clay. I really am a Jill of all trades, but most recently, paper has kind of stuck to me, and I really enjoy working with paper arts.


Miko Hayashi

Thank you. It sounds like you've moved around quite a lot, then.


Lauren Rose

Yes. I was born in New York, and I lived there for the first eight, nine years of my life, so I will always claim to be a New Yorker. Then my family moved me down Florida when I was younger, and I lived in Florida up until I graduated from a university with my master's in counseling. After that, I moved to San Francisco with my fiancé at the time, now husband.

I love traveling. I've always been a traveler at heart. It's been my dream to live abroad. I didn't know how it was going to happen. I studied abroad in college, and I thought, "Oh, that's it-- just one semester abroad." Then my husband got the opportunity to work for his company in Singapore. Of course, it was an easy answers like-- "Yes, I don't even know where Singapore is, but I'm going!"

That was how we started this adventure abroad now.


Miko Hayashi

What inspired you to start traveling? What was inside you from the very beginning that made you say, "I don't want to stay in one place, I just need to keep moving,"?


Lauren Rose

Have you ever been to Florida before? (laughs)

So for me, Florida is a wonderful place to go. If you know you want to live that slow life, if you like the beach. I hate the beach, I'm a redhead, I have very pale skin and I'm allergic to the sun.

A lot of it is driven from a desire to see what else is out there, to meet people and to just selfishly expose myself to as many different people and cultures. Just to understand what the world is about. Again, it's that counseling part of me that really wants to know people on a deeper level. I find that traveling is the best way to do that, because you can read about someone in a book or you know, see pictures and you get an idea. It's nothing like just being immersed.

When I was in high school, I was all about France and I loved French culture. What high school girl doesn't who wants to go into fashion? I went to France. I traveled around Europe a little bit afterwards, and it's just nothing like being there. You see pictures of the Colosseum in Rome, but it's nothing like-- I mean I did the big "No, no," but I reached out and I touched the wall. It's been there for 1000s of years and I just have so much respect for that history.

Then being here in Japan and you know you're in the middle of this city, and there's this castle that's been here for 1000s of years, or the ruins of the castle. Just the idea that these people and places have existed and will continue to exist so much longer than we will ever breathe air on this earth is just-- it's so inspiring to me.


Miko Hayashi

I totally get what you mean, it's definitely inspiring to be in a place that is not like what you're used to; to what you're used to growing up with. America is a very new country comparatively to all of the other countries that exist. And yes, to be from a country that is still in its teenager years to some where as old as Japan, China, or even in Italy. It's an eye opening experience.

How do these new experiences shape your art?



Lauren Rose's paper quilled maki sushi
Lauren Rose's paper quilled maki sushi

Lauren Rose

Well, a lot of times, I don't speak the language in the places where I go, and I'm still learning Japanese actually. I spoke just enough French to like order at a restaurant while I was living there. In Italy, we learned a couple of phrases. I find that the fastest, best way to get immersed in a culture is to eat. I am not a picky eater. I will eat almost anything that's put in front of me. That's how I find myself immersing with new cultures, and it's the easiest stepping stone.

When we lived in Singapore, we were able to travel around to many Southeast Asian countries, because Singapore is kind of a travel hub. We went to Vietnam, we have been to the Philippines, Malaysia, and it's not in Southeast Asia, but we went to Taiwan. Every time we went to one of these new countries, my husband and I would book a food tour with an English speaking guide, who could explain to us what we were eating. Not only are we eating the food, but we're also getting to know this person who lives here. We can ask weird questions to our guide.

The best one was in Vietnam, we went on a food tour. It was women led. They were all women. They took us on the back of a moped, and they took us from place to place around the city. It was fascinating. I got to sit there and chat with my guide about the pains of having a mother-in-law, the pressure of having to find a job and earn money, with pressure to have children as a woman. It was just so wonderful to get to know her on that deeper level. To really connect.

The human experience is so similar no matter where you live, we all just want to live and survive comfortably. We want to eat, we want to be loved... I forgot the original question. But food is a lot of where my inspiration comes from.


Miko Hayashi

How do these new experiences shape your art?


Lauren Rose

Yeah, that's it. The food shapes my art.

I want the people who see my art to get literally a taste of what I'm experiencing. The easiest way for me to connect with the culture is through food. I want my audience to connect and find an easy way to connect with that culture. Food is the main subject of my artwork.

I do a couple I do Mount Fujis. It's so renowned. It's obviously a landmark, but a lot of the other work that I do is food. Maybe you see an onigiri, and you'll think, "What is this rice ball," but because you've seen my artwork on it, and maybe read a couple of the descriptions, you'd know.

A lot of my audience is not necessarily in Japan. So when they're walking around their cities or their towns, and they see this rice ball, they can say, "Oh wait, that sounds familiar. I think I saw that on Lauren's Instagram or artwork. Let me let me try it."

It takes a lot of the mystery out of it. I'm really trying to connect people. Make it a little bit easier to connect to other cultures that seem foreign to them.


Miko Hayashi

Can you talk a little bit about how you transitioned from polymer clay and also acrylics to paper quilling? How did that transition happen?


Lauren Rose

Well, my dad paints. He painted with oils as we were growing up. We've always been around crafts and art.

I think when I was a kid, acrylic paint was the least toxic. That was what we were allowed to play with. There were also watercolors there, but you know, that's play that's child's play. It helped us to experiment.

I originally had been drawn to acrylics. I like the dense bold colors that acrylic can offer. While I was living in San Francisco, I took an acrylic painting course, which taught me some more techniques, about making color palettes, and gave me the foundation of acrylics. I was doing acrylic for a while, and a friend of mine bought a watercolor book from someone she followed on Instagram. She really wanted to do it. We did a watercolor out of a textbook for maybe two or three times.

It's whatever is inspiring me at the time. I think the polymer clay was on sale at the art store, so I just bought it.

When it came to the paper quilling, I was living in Singapore, and a friend of mine purchased some earring quilled earrings from a local artist. That artist was hosting a workshop. This is right when the lockdown in Singapore had lifted. I'd never heard about it. I didn't even follow this woman's art on Instagram, but I'm always down to learn something new. Also, I just wanted to spend time with my friend. That's how I was introduced to the art of paper quilling.

We made these earrings. They were tulips in a pot. She taught a couple of different techniques. While we were in the workshop, my friend said, "Well you paint and you do things, you're creative. You should do this. You should do this paper. "

I'm actually quite resistant to new things at first, especially if it's not my idea. I can be a bit stubborn. In my head I'm thinking, "I'm not gonna just make something, because she told me to make it."

I don't know if you can relate to that as an artist, but you get a lot of suggestions. You should do this, and you should do that.


Miko Hayashi

Yeah, I've gotten that.


Lauren Rose

While I appreciate it-- that they think I'm so talented-- or they think they can see my work in ways that I cannot, sometimes being an artist, you really just want to create what you want to create.

I was a little salty, like, "Blah, blah, blah... Yeah, yeah, okay," but I was already going to paint her something with acrylic paint.

One day I was riding my bike around Singapore, and I thought it would be pretty cool to add some quilled pieces on to this acrylic painting to honor our time that she and I spent together, and because of this new skill that I picked up while I was with my friend.

I made a Mickey and Minnie painting, and I quilled the Minnie bows, the red bows, out of paper. I attached those to the painting. Once I bought the supplies and played with the paper in a way that was less structured, I fell in love with it.

Once I finished with the bows, I was making a bunch of different designs. I was just playing around with the paper, because there was no pressure.

At that time, I knew we were moving to Japan. I refused to buy more paper, because that meant I would have to move it. I had to wait until we got to Japan to order more supplies. That ended up being like a month and a half of waiting. I wrote down all my ideas and I sketched them out.

Now that I'm here, and I'm more settled in Japan, I feel like I've had all these ideas just marinating in my mind just waiting to come out. Then on top of that, I have all these new ideas from living in Japan and not Singapore, that it's like a battle for which one's going to come out first. I've been leaning more towards the Japan themed inspired pieces lately.

That's the evolution of kind of how I've gotten to paper quilling. It's been a fun journey.



Going clockwise: onigiri rice ball, takoyaki, futomaki sushi, and mochi dango
Going clockwise: onigiri rice ball, takoyaki, futomaki sushi, and mochi dango

Miko Hayashi

It's very interesting on how the location that you're in also influences what you're putting into your art. I think that's why I felt like this would be a very interesting interview, because not many artists have the experience of being able to move country to country and actually live there, and have that be a part of their artwork as well. It's a very fortunate way that you're able to express yourself, I think.


Lauren Rose

Yes, I agree. If you had asked me that when I first moved to Singapore, I would not have agreed. It was quite a struggle. I was looking for a full time job. I was still very much stuck in the mindset having to work full time and, "I have to use this degree that I earned."

But now I have found a really good balance where I do use my counseling degree. I find ways that my degree shows up in my artwork, I find ways that my formal education shows up in the way I interact with people with the way I communicate.

I was very much like that, "I have to use this degree, I have to use it."

I'm so much happier now that I've let that go. I can focus on the artwork and and allow myself to be inspired, and to let go of the "should's" of whatever society pressure I feel... to use this formula.


Miko Hayashi

My next question is what is challenging about making art while living in a different country?


Lauren Rose

Supplies? First of all, finding supplies and getting supplies.

As I mentioned, I did a lot of acrylic painting. Before I really immersed myself in the paper art, I had this strong desire to create and paint. When my parents visited Singapore from the United States back in 2019, they have brought with them. It was like a pack of note cards, and its the perfect thickness, the perfect fold, and the perfect size. The perfect paper. I thought, "When I moved to Japan, it won't be a problem to find this kind of paper. They're so into paper products there, no problem."

I have not been able to find these bifold new cards anywhere for the life of me. I really had to shift gears, and I started actually painting postcards instead of note cards.

For quilling there are specific papers. Companies make them where the paper is already cut into strips. Usually the width is three millimeters, five millimeters, or a centimeter. Since moving to Japan, I could have them shipped to me, but I have so much access to beautiful paper here that it feels kind of like a waste to buy paper that's mass produced somewhere else. Although that does make the process more efficient.

Lately I've been going to Seikaido (crafts store in Tokyo) to their paper floor, and I just pull one of every color. I've been picking the colors based on what's inspiring me that day, and then I bring it home and I cut it myself. Now I can have a variety of thicknesses, a variety of colors that aren't necessarily available online. Also, I don't have to worry about it getting crushed in the mail.

The people there probably think I'm nuts, because I bring this like plastic folders that are really popular here that I love. Then I ask them, "Can you put my paper in here, please, and then put it in your paper bag?"

Because I take the train, and I don't want to bump into anything and have bent corners. They've been really nice.

So supplies is the hardest part, I think the most challenging part about working abroad and creating art abroad.



Lauren poses with the paper from Japan
Lauren poses with the paper from Japan

Miko Hayashi

How do you see your life on Japan shaping the way you think creatively in the future?


Lauren Rose

I love the Japanese idea of minimalism, just the very clean and simple lines. I find them so beautiful. Life is so chaotic. Our surroundings and the things we surround ourselves with should be serene and soothing. To give you a little bit of that escape. I try to keep that in my artwork. Simple, intentional lines and design.

As I mentioned before, just the quality of of supplies that I can find here, the types of papers-- I'm starting a series where I'm including washi paper into my artwork. Just I've been experimenting with that, I haven't released anything yet.


Miko Hayashi

Do you mind explaining to those who might not know what washi paper is?


Lauren Rose

Sure. Maybe you can help me because I'm not 100% sure? From my understanding, it's a paper with a design on it, and it's beautiful. It tends to be a little on the thinner side. If you can please elaborate?


Miko Hayashi

Okay, so let's see is the kanji for washi is, 和紙. "Wa" (和) typically means balance or harmony. It's also a reference to Japan, in general. And then for "shi," (紙) the kanji for that is paper. The literal translation would probably be "balanced paper" or "Japanese paper." It's an artwork of its own, where they create different types of paper, often with natural materials. It's often handmade, and hand pressed and various thicknesses of various colors. Some have a Japanese pattern, some have more of a natural fibers pattern. It's also mostly thin, but it's used for wrapping, and also used for maybe making cards or decorations and anything. That's the basic gist of what washi is.


Lauren Rose

Thank you. I love that you taught me something new today, because I've only heard of it. I just heard of this famous washi paper, and washi tapes. I've been experimenting with that. I haven't purchased any of the fine art handmade washi paper yet, because like I said, I'm experimenting. I'm experimenting with the cheap stuff. It's been really fun. I have a lot of ideas for how my artwork can involve using the materials that I can more easily find here in Japan.


Miko Hayashi

I think that's a very good thing to take advantage of where you are and incorporate that into your artwork as well.


Lauren Rose

Yeah, I intend to think of how I did that in Singapore. I think I was just very inspired by bubble tea, because I was on a huge bubble tea kick.

Since moving to Tokyo, I've shifted gears and now I'm obsessed with Taiyaki (fish shaped waffle with sweet red bean paste, or anko, inside), which I think is healthier? I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a little bit healthier than bubble tea.



Lauren's interpretation bubble tea from Singapore
Lauren's interpretation bubble tea from Sinagpore

Miko Hayashi

It's a lot of sugar, but yeah.


Lauren Rose

I think it's not as much of a sugar bomb as bubble tea, but ...


Miko Hayashi

That's probably true. (laughs)


Lauren Rose

I love living abroad. I love meeting meeting new people and trying new foods. Of course it has its challenges, but it's worth it. Most days it's worth it.


Miko Hayashi

The last question is, where do you see yourself 10 years from now when it comes to creating and being an artist?


Lauren Rose

Well, who knows what country I'll be living in.

My husband's contract is only for two years here in Japan. I know we're only a couple of months in, but we love it here. We hope that we're still here in Japan, but if not, we are open to moving to other countries, or we may just move back to the United States.

Who knows where my inspiration will be coming from. I've only been here in Japan for a few months, but I feel like it's kind of nestled its way into my heart. It's definitely something I will keep with me these experiences.

We also talked about earlier how I started with polymer clay, I've done acrylic, watercolor. It's really all about trying new things. I pride myself on being a lifelong learner. Who knows what new techniques will come my way throughout life?

Ten years is a long time. Maybe a friend will invite me to another workshop and I will learn something new. Actually, I went to the Tokyo Art Studio in Minato-ku and I took a class on intuitive painting. It was so fun to like with a sponge and acrylic paints and not really care about the end results. It got my creative juices flowing.

I'm also going to a class kintsugi class, the Japanese art of fixing porcelain or ceramics with gold. I'm so excited to learn that art.

So I couldn't tell you where I'll be, but I do absolutely know that no matter where I am, or what stage in my personal life, I will always be creating. Maybe I'll be like doing arts and crafts with my kids or something-- future kids, but I don't know. No matter what I will be creating, and I just hope to continue to bring others joy and peace of mind with my artwork.


Miko Hayashi

Thank you so much, Lauren. It's a really great answer. You seem to be on the move so often. Would you rather stay in Asia? Or would you rather be somewhere like Europe? Or maybe Africa or Middle East? I mean, is there anything that attracts you more than another place?


Lauren Rose

Well, I had never been to Asia, I hadn't even been to Singapore, before we moved there. We did not take an exploratory trip or anything, which is probably for the best, because it's very hot in Singapore, It would have been a huge consideration in the move. It's like 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) every day there. It's on the equator.

I lived in France for a semester, and I loved it. I didn't know that I would.

I try not to put too many specifics on my life. I never could have imagined moving to San Francisco, I could never have imagined moving to Singapore. I feel like it could limit me if I'm I have my mind set on something. I'd rather just have an opportunity to show up, and then agree, and then weigh out the pros and cons and decide whether or not to take it. I would live in Europe. I would live in Africa. I would live in other countries in Asia. The only place I absolutely will not live again is Florida.


Miko Hayashi

Sorry, Florida. (laughs)


Lauren Rose

Yeah, I'm sorry. (laughs) If there are any Floridians in the room. (laughs) We can talk about it separately if you want.

I know we're wrapping up now, but I do identify as Jewish and being Jewish does bring a whole other layer of considerations. For example, in Malaysia if you have an Israeli passport, you can't even come into Malaysia. Even in France while I was there, I had to be a little bit more on edge. I couldn't wear any Judaica on my body. You just don't want to invite anything. Any negative attention.

I find that in Asia, especially Singapore surprisingly, people are so-- are more welcoming of other cultures and other religions. For my safety, I think that even in the US, I would be a little bit more cautious depending on what state and what city I was living in. where, I wouldn't necessarily wear my star of David necklace. Here in Asia, I don't feel that same level of discomfort, or fear of my safety when I do that. I really enjoy that part of living here in Asia.


Miko Hayashi

That's actually interesting. I didn't realize that would have such a huge effect. Well, I mean, especially in Malaysia that surprises me, because Malaysia is such a mixed country already. That's very, that's interesting to learn, and I'm sorry, for that experience that you had in France.


Lauren Rose

Yeah. Sorry, to get real deep at the end. Here in Japan, we have found an incredible community of Jewish people who've, you know, just show me where the grocery store is. They take us for a drive around, and they point out where we can take our dog to the groomers and the vet, and where we have some English speaking resources. It's just been fabulous. I wouldn't have normally connected that when you move abroad you've got to kind hone into your groups. It's been fabulous being a Jew in Japan.


Miko Hayashi

That's good. I'm really happy to hear that.


Lauren Rose

I also want to say by no means am I an expert on Jewish relations around the world. When I was living in Singapore, and I visited Malaysia, it was just one of those topics that came up. My husband works for an Israeli company. When he did work in Malaysia, they could not tell the other companies that they were an Israeli company, they would say that they were American startup, which they kind of are.


Miko Hayashi

I see. Wow, it's a different perspective that not most people would normally think about. Thank you for sharing.


Lauren Rose

My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Thanks for giving me the platform and the time. Feel free you guys to find me on Instagram. My handle is at lrose_stuidos. I'm working on a collection of Fujis. If you want a piece for yourself, you can have one custom ordered, or you can wait until I release my collection. I think you had given me a great recommendation. Sunset Fuji. Was that you?


Lauren's quilled picture of Mount Fuji.
Lauren's Fuji-san.

Miko Hayashi

Yeah, I did.


Lauren Rose

Love that. I'm so inspired by that, I will be making a Fujisan that's inspired by the sunset.


Miko Hayashi

I don't know if you've ever seen Mount Fuji in the sunset, but it's very beautiful. Since the sun tends to set behind Mount Fuji. It's a silhouette of the mountain. The sky behind it is very bright and beautiful.


Lauren Rose

I'm so glad that we talked, because that's not what I was thinking. Now I have two ideas for how to do that.


Miko Hayashi

At least from Tokyo's perspective, that's what it looks like. For the sunset, also, at a certain time of the year, if the sun sets on top of Mount Fuji directly they call that "diamond Fuji," because it looks like a diamond on top of Mount Fuji.


Lauren Rose

I need to do some research. That's awesome.


Miko Hayashi

There are so many different names for the different states of Mount Fuji. It's very interesting for you to look at, and also if you need more inspiration, Hokusai the very famous ukiyo-e or woodblock printer, has many different views of Mount Fuji.


Lauren Rose

I love talking to you. from some of our other Clubhouse talks I have butcher paper on my are desk. I have all these notes from talking to you about things to do and places to see in Japan. My desk is like covered in notes with Miko's suggestions.


Miko Hayashi

Everyone, thank you so much for listening in. And Lauren, thank you so much for your time.


Lauren Rose

Thank you and thank you all for listening in. Thank you, Miko.


Miko Hayashi

That was Lauren Rose, a paper quill artist, an acrylic artist living in Tokyo, and a frequent traveler of the world.

Join us next time when I interview a tattoo artist living in San Francisco, who is inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. This has been the Visual Artist's Spotlight. Make sure to visit my Instagram at Mimi Hana Threads, where you can find out when new artist interviews will happen. Also, please subscribe to my blog at smallbusinesshop.com/Mimi-embroidery-blog. We will post all of the past interviews on this blog, including the podcast, a recording and the transcript.

Make sure you subscribe to see when you get the latest updates. This has been Visual Artist's Spotlight. Thank you for listening


Up next: I interview Jared Smith about his tattoo art and the life he lived that brought him where he is today.




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