ABOUT THE ARTIST
Name, and company name:
Laurén Bienvenue, Once Upon a Laurén
Type of art you create and medium used:
Painter extraordinaire of vintage, new & custom leather goods. I use Angelus Leather Paint.
What inspires you and your designs?
The first place I get inspiration is from the piece itself! If it’s vintage jacket; what era did it come from, who might have worn it and how can I bring that personality out? If it’s a drab bag that’s seen better days; how can I utilize color in an unexpected way? If it’s a custom job; what does the owner want to feel like when they use it? A rock star? A floral queen?
To date, what was one of your favorite projects you worked on and why?
My favorite projects in general are always the ones that start with a customer saying ‘I have this jacket/purse/accessory that’s been sitting in the back of my closet for years…’The process of reimagining an object from something that’s too good to throw away but never used into a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable, usable art that people want to show off is really satisfying. Not only are we giving it new life, but we’re keeping it out of a landfill and challenging the notion of what can be considered a ‘canvas’ by creating something totally unique.
Can you describe your process?
My process starts will keeping my eyes and heart open – seeing a vintage fabric or a retro movie poster, a new type of flower or even a new neighborhood can all spark ideas in terms of color combination, vibe and style.Ironically, I am not great sketching. I get impatient with it and usually like to just dive in but if there’s lettering involved I’ll do a quick chalk outline on the piece itself to make sure everything is spaced out correctly. But most of the time, I’m just winging it. Some pieces are straightforward and others need careful tending, requiring me to step away, look at it from a distance and hit the pause button before adjusting or adding more.
We know you started in NY, but now live in LA. Has living in different cities influenced how you paint or what you paint?
I’ve only been here for three months but I can definitely see the west coast vibe starting to seep into my work. I find myself being drawn to more vibrant colors and abstract pattern and graduating a bit from the soft pink florals I’ve done a lot of in the past.
Who is your artist/style icon?
It’s a combination of Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton. Essentially: badass women with killer senses of style and humor.
And a personal fun question: What are you listening to/reading/watching these days?
I am currently reading Ani DiFranco’s memoir and book of poems, No Walls and the Reoccurring Dream – a real treat!I attempt the New York Times crossword puzzle every day (sometimes with success!) and I have podcasts going all day while I paint. Some of my favorites are Armchair Expert, How I Built This, Small Town Dicks and My Favorite Murder. Quarantine is a very weird time to be in a new town, but the silver lining is that I finally have time to binge all the TV I’m really late to like ‘High Maintenance,’ ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘Ozark.’