Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Lauren Zavala. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Lauren, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Learning the craft is often a unique journey from every creative – we’d love to hear about your journey and if knowing what you know now, you would have done anything differently to speed up the learning process.
Honestly, I feel like as an artist I am never quite done “learning to do what I do”. I think talent is completely subjective and most of my work centers on honing and practicing my own skills. I started painting, same as most of you, as a kid. I have always loved creating and working with my hands, so coloring/painting/drawing felt very relaxing. After high school, I backpacked around Europe for a semester before I started college. Going from museum to museum, I discovered a deep love of art. After I got back, I promptly declared my undergrad Art History and started absorbing as many studio art and art history classes as I could. When I started my MA, also in Art History, I was living in London. The stress of my master’s program helped me pick up my brushes again to relax and I started watercoloring cards and pictures to send back home. I discovered leather paint while I was there and started painting on a leather jacket for my fiancé. Everything kind of spiraled from there and I’ve continued painting on leather ever since.
Knowing what I know now, I definitely would have doubled majored in art history and studio art for my undergrad. There’s a lot I have taught myself painting that I think would have been expedited with classes and techniques that I didn’t end up learning in school. My minimal studio classes I took in college still help me to this day – especially in things like color theory – and I wish I could have studied it all a bit more. My focus was Art History, which I also implement in my work so I wouldn’t switch, rather I’d just take more classes.
Lauren, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
For those of you who may not know me, my name is Lauren Zavala and I am the face (and brush) behind Zavala Bespoke. As I usually put it: Zavala Bespoke uniquely operates where fashion and fine art intersect. Customization and personalization transform your luxury pieces into one of a kind wearable art. From clothing to luggage, bags to briefcases, and everything in between, we are here to help. To put it bluntly, for the most part, I paint on luxury and designer goods. Think Gucci or Prada with a little custom paint – and that’s where you’ll find me.
I got into painting on luxury pieces wholly on accident. I had painted a jacket for my boyfriend (now fiancé) and so many people started asking about it, I ended up making a website to do it while looking for a job after I finished my master’s degree. It took off a bit from there and with some hard work and fabulous clients, here I am!
My work is largely in a pop art and impressionistic style, with heavy influence derived from my background in Art History. I love incorporating art historical motifs and inspirations into my pieces and going from there which I think may be the thing that separates me from anyone else. I’d say, in terms of specialty, I love to focus on lips and mouths and maybe insects. I recently painted a bright gold butterfly with motifs inspired by Belgian artist Gustav Klimt. I had a client ask to try and incorporate butterflies, and that they loved the “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” painting by Klimt. I thought it would be really stunning to do a study of parts of the dress in the portrait inside of parts of the butterfly wings. Getting to incorporate art history into my work is something that makes me feel connected to my art and really makes it feel like my art is contributing to that history (if in any way a teeny tiny bit).
What am I most proud of? Probably starting my own business. It’s hard! And it’s a little trial by fire, but it’s the only way I’d have it. I think starting any business is really brave, and I am really proud of that… especially in art. There’s things I think I have really nailed, and things I think I could have done better at, but all of that has gotten me to where I’m at now. I really do think that’s all you can hope for; just trying your best and letting your hard work speak for itself.
Are there any resources you wish you knew about earlier in your creative journey?
Social media. 100 percent. I made an Instagram account pretty early into my work, and it’s like a job in and of itself. I am still learning to navigate it day by day. And not just Instagram! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, Google and YouTube (phew!). Keeping up posting on all of those platforms is so, so hard, and that doesn’t even include the actual paint aspect of my job. So I wish I’d known how helpful and important all social media platforms would be to my business so I could have started working on them sooner. If you own a business and are reading this, make sure you’re on all important social media platforms. It’s worth it to cast such a wide net.
And never act like something isn’t worth a try. I got on TikTok early in the pandemic and I started posting regularly. Some of my videos have gotten hundreds of thousands of views and I love connecting with people on it. I had people laughing that I was on a “kids dancing app”, but who doesn’t like a little color in their lives. And what do you know? I’m seeing most mainstream brands on it now, and it really works! So I never say never to just about anything.
Is there mission driving your creative journey?
Artistic accessibility is really important to me. Something I love about my work is that it’s, for lack of a better word, portable. My paintings have been to the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu, the Duomo in Florence, Big Ben, the Trevi Fountain and more. How many other artists are lucky enough to say that? My goal is to have fine art all around me. Museums can struggle with making themselves accessible to the masses, and painting on unique surfaces like I do makes my art viewable from the park, the concert or the dinner table- and I love that.
- Website: https://www.zavalabespoke.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zavalabespoke/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zavalabespoke
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/zavalabespoke
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUsJJM6Z58Ps55h9WmveTkQ?app=desktop
- Other: Follow us on all social media @zavalabespoke.