ILLUSTRATOR & PRINT MAKER

Lauren Morsley

MARCH 2020

I first met Lauren in 2018 when we were both in London for the D&AD New Blood Festival. When Lauren was exhibiting her illustrations and prints in 2018, she was awarded one of the ‘ones to watch’ awards, chosen by industry members for individuals who stand out amongst their peers. As a result, she was awarded a spot in the New Blood Academy. 

Since then, Lauren has gone on to intern in the design department of LUSH, design prints for V&A Dundee and also being an active store holder in many creative markets. When she creates imagery, she says she ‘often uses an array of textures, patterns, collage and other various mark making techniques.’ Lauren’s work is bold and colourful with a great sense of composition and scale. Recently, I had a chat with her about how her retail job at LUSH went from serving customers to working in the design team, what it is like seeing her illustrations in all over the world, and how she builds her client list.

To kick things off, let’s start with some basic background information. Was your childhood relatively creative, or was this something you found as you got much older?
I grew up with creative parents who both studied landscape architecture with my dad having his own practice. My gran was also an art teacher who got offered to work for Disney, but had to decline to help her parents ill health. I was always encouraged to be creative, draw and make things. However I was never pushed into design and I never realised it’s what I wanted to do till end of high school.

Did you ever have that moment where you were like ‘ok I think I can do this as a job’? If so how old were you? What steps did you take to make it a reality?
I went into university knowing I liked to be imaginative and creative but I never really looked into jobs and future prospects, I don’t know why but I think I just didn’t want to think about it too much. I just knew I wanted to do something creative and I didn’t want to hate my future job. It wasn’t until my final year at university that I started looking into selling my prints and preparing my folio to hopefully start doing commission work. Then D&AD opened up the whole agency world and showed me other options that weren’t really shown to me at university. 
A lot of people can struggle getting their foot in the door. How did you turn your retail job into a creative opportunity to intern at LUSH?
LUSH as a company often looks to see what their employees can offer. I had been working as a sales assistant for a few months and then there was a call out by email to see if any of their employees had any other hidden creative talents and if so to submit work to do a workshop with their design team in Poole. I got selected, went to the workshop and then got invited to do a few weeks of interning for them during their design sprint for Halloween/Christmas collections. It went really well, I designed a lot of things and learned so much about working in house for a company. I was then asked to come down another 4 times over the year for 2/3 weeks at a time. I never expected for it to turn into what it was and have my designs for LUSH sold worldwide. I think that’s a major part of the job as an illustrator or creative. You can’t predict what opportunities will appear, usually it’s the ones you least expect, and that’s what makes the job tough and difficult to see a future with it. This opportunity has been amazing and I am so grateful for it but it hasn’t meant I now have a clear path or it’s necessarily easy to get work. I am still in the very beginning of my ‘career’ which is equally daunting and exciting.

I think because there are so many talented creatives out there, having a great resume or all these great opportunities doesn't always mean that you will get the next job/client you go for. It's a fleeting industry and that is hard to get your head around sometimes. Do you ever experience self doubt when you don't get a client you applied for? If so, how do you pull yourself out of that feeling?
Yes it's really difficult to pull yourself out of that self doubt bubble. I would say I experience it nearly every week hahaha. I try not to spend too much time on Instagram if I am not feeling in the right headspace, as thats the first place that will trigger me to feel unaccomplished. I think there needs to be a balance as some worry is a necessity to push yourself to do more and better work. But too much and it can completely overwhelm you and that's not good at all. I try remind myself that for every commission that has fallen through for me, every other creative has been in the same situation one way or another and it's not personal. For me I often worry about more about way into the future things more than what's happening right at that moment, so it's not so much a self doubt/ worry that I've lost that specific commission but more that I worry I won't get commissions in 5 years time.
I also think that it is so cool that LUSH does that internally. I find it so refreshing that a global company provides opportunities for their team. What was the workshop like? Do you know how many other participants from your workshop that got to intern?
The workshop was quite fast paced, but it was all about generating ideas and doing loose design work. We would get grouped and would have to complete certain tasks like design a wrap or gift around a particular theme or that can be used in more ways than one etc. Throughout designing we were to keep in mind the core values of Lush like them being against animal testing, also being fresh and hand made, more eco friendly. It was like a mix of illustration, product design and textiles. There was 8-10 people. Three of us were taken on to intern however one person was only invited for the first sprint and the second was only invited down twice. They do this process twice a year roughly to offer opportunity to more people but I got to do the full year of sprints. They wanted to see how you responded to design challenges and how you come up with creative and collaborative solutions.

When you interned and went back those 4 times, did they provide you with a wage or some other compensation?
Yes so I got all my expenses paid for: flights, trains, accomodation, food allowances etc. I also got paid, but it was just my basic shop pay £9 per hour for 40 hours each week. So I felt even though I wasn't getting a designer's pay, the accomodation and food costs etc made it worth it. I know I was really lucky, since a lot of internships in those circumstances would not be paid!
All imagery is created and supplied by Lauren @laurenmorsley
What does your creative process look like?
It really depends what the brief is and what format. But for a typical brief I would usually start with researching the brand or company a little, then go straight to making notes and really really rough sketches. I don't really do the whole traditional sketchbook thing. I've tried so many times but I'd rather just have a small notebook and do more idea brainstorming. I just get thoughts all down on paper and maybe then do rough compositions. Once I've got an idea to start with I go straight to my computer and start mocking up. I look at every commission like a problem to be solved with a punch a colour and quirk.

How do you define success or being successful?
For me success would be reached If I still enjoy the job after another 25 years haha. I would love to be able to fully sustain myself on a design income, and I think it's important that people aren't ashamed about being open about that and being business minded (It's VERY important). But if I didn't still enjoy what I work on in 25 years time then there's issues there. Not saying that I have to enjoy every aspect all the time, but as long as I am still enjoying the hard work when I'm 50 I'm happy!

Lauren is one talented creative. You can follow her on instagram and purchase her prints through etsy.

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