Editor’s Note: When this conversation started Celebration by Kool & the Gang was on the stereo providing the background to this quick, down and dirty style interview.
Lauren Asta is a traveling artist & muralist who is currently in the process of covering most of San Diego with paint. Well at least a good chunk of it. She’s quick with a smile and gritty laugh that is contagious. We spent a few minutes with her while she was working on painting the oversized planter boxes at Quartyard Container Park downtown. A project she completed last Saturday. Her work in town can be seen at Pop Pie, Sector 9 and even in private homes around town.
SS: So…Where did the Lauren Asta Style develop?
Lauren: Oh dear, in a dark alley somewhere in my mind. No.
SS: I assumed just straight copying out of text books.
Lauren: (Laughs) Yes. (Starts using a British voice, I think) Well, to explain this story one must go back too…just kidding. (Normal voice) I got my BFA in photography back in 2004 when photography was still photography.
SS: BFA, that sounds like a college thing.
Lauren: Yes, a college thing. I lived in a darkroom, yada yada yada. After college the plan was to move to New York and become a rich and famous artist. Right?
So when I got to New York trying to get a job in photography was pretty hard, and doing photography was even harder. And expensive. So finding darkrooms at that time, because iPhones were coming out and everyone was a photographer, digital, it was harder to find work. The next best venue to get my creative energy out was drawing, and it was a lot cheaper. Since I had photographed mostly people my doodles and drawing turned towards people and characters, but drawing proved to be more fun (than photography) because I could make them do whatever I wanted. It’s been over a decade that the style has progressed to this, but I’d say that is where the origin came from.
SS: Were you just doodling and this is what ended up coming out or was there anyone you were looking at as influences consciously? Subconsciously, there are always influences.
SS: You’re in Dr. Seuss country you know that right?
Lauren: I didn’t know that! San Diego? Edward Gorey was another one.
Lauren: You don’t know him? Did you ever watch PBS as a kid?
SS: Sesame Street.
Lauren: Did you ever watch Masterpiece Theatre. No not Masterpiece Theatre 3000. Was it Masterpiece Theatre? Yeah, it was a program on PBS. The beginning credits was Edward Gorey, and he does a lot of children’s books like,(back into British-voice) ““A” is for Abigail who died of Ammonia. “G” is for Gail who died of Gin.”
SS: Besides your murals it seems like you’ve been collaborating a lot on other projects. Today I saw your post about headphones with your design on them. What are some of the other things you’ve collaborated on or had your art put on that you’re proud of? Or is coming out?
Lauren: I think at this point everything is out that I’ve collaborated on, but the things that are just coming out now like the headset, and a gentleman from Chicago put my stuff on handkerchiefs and things are okay. They are fun, and another venue to get my work out. I don’t actively search those out. I get more excited when people want my stuff on walls. But who’s to say that this year things won’t go on more things? I’d love to do t-shirts and hats, and that sort of thing, hoodies.
SS: You’ve been in San Diego for a couple of weeks, and it seems like you’ve been ridiculously prolific. Where can people find your work in San Diego by the end of your visit?
Lauren: The current one I’m working on is at Quartyard. That’s my final project here. It’s one of four. The first one I did was at Pop Pie in Hill…no…University Heights. That one was a fun one plus their food is amazing. The second one I did is a private home in La Jolla so you can see that on my website. The third one is at Sector 9 in Bay Park/Clairmont. You can call ahead and they’ll let you in to see it and take photos. And if you skate you can absolutely skate the bread bowl.
And the fourth one is here at Quartyard in the East Village. I’ve been learning all the neighborhoods.
SS: It’s kind of a great way to learn cities when you’re painting on them. AND you leave your mark behind which is pretty cool.
Lauren: I’ve gotten to stay in more places, I think, than most San Diegoans.
SS: San Diegans?
Lauren: San Diegans get to experience, and I’ve been here less than two months.
Lauren: I’m pretty sure I’m past the point of getting upset if paint gets on any of my clothes. I do have designated stuff I wear out to the end, and then I get to hang them up in my studio like a trophy.
SS: Do you put them in a frame?
Lauren: I haven’t yet. But if I get enough stuff, I have shoes I have hats, beanies, bandanas, tank tops, shorts, pants. (laughs).
SS: All just covered in paint.
Lauren: Yeah these (pants) will probably be retired after this trip.
Up next is a good opportunity for a follow along slash getting new clothing dirty experience. April 1st I leave for a one-month tour in seven cities, New York, Washington D.C., Asheville, Nashville, Atlanta, Laurence (or Florence) Alabama, Bethlahem PA and back to New York. That’s the entire month of April.
I’ll be traveling with five other artists, doing collaborations and solo work.
SS: Where will people be able to follow along with that?
SS: We’ll learn more about you than maybe we want to know!
Check out Lauren’s other works or contact her for bookings at laurenasta.com
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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