Despite maybe not quite knowing it at the time, illustrator Lauren Doughty has always been one to collect bits and pieces for possible inspiration or soon-to-be subjects. In fact, it’s by looking at outside sources that Lauren can trace back to the root of her love of illustration.
Her childhood, for instance, was spent moving across South East Asia after being born in Singapore. This has “intrinsically taught me to appreciate what is different to what you ‘know’,” she begins to tell It’s Nice That, when describing her route into illustration. This extends to her parents' encouragement, who “didn’t have ‘creative’ jobs, but definitely have creative spirits in many ways,” she says. In the case of her mum, it was her role as a buyer at the iconic Fiorucci that introduced Lauren to its iconic graphics, while her dad passed down a collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics, “which are just so good!”. An only child too, drawing offered a place of play for Lauren, who admits “she has a tendency to live in [her] own head and thoughts”. Luckily, she found a best pal with a similar frame of mind; the two (both J.R.R Tolkien obsessives) would spend their break times at school drawing their own detailed maps of Middle Earth.
Today, Lauren is an illustrator based in London – her parents settled in the English seaside town of Folkestone when she was around 10 – after graduating from Camberwell in 2013. Her work revolves around a fair few recurring themes, from natural motifs “out of a love for plants… but also because I feel very aware of its importance for our mental and physical wellbeing,” through to drawing from memory, "creating something I can see in my head,” or highlighting everyday subjects and “capturing them in the moment to make them feel special,” she describes.
These pieces are then brought life through a mixture of drawing mediums, purposefully juxtaposed for the enjoyment they bring Lauren creatively. Combining both the handcrafted and the digital, she notes legendary designers, artists and all-round polymaths like Tadanori Yokoo and Milton Glaser as key influences. “I love the idea that illustration or an artwork doesn’t need to stick to one ‘look’, ‘style’ or ‘medium’,” she adds, “it feels very freeing.” Asking Lauren if there are any regular habits in her practice, she responds detailing a consistent change that involves trying out “new ways of drawing, new mediums and experimenting” – a process that keeps her practice exciting.
This melting pot of influences and mediums comes to life in Lauren’s ongoing project, Ikebana Practitioners. Admiring the practice of Japanese flower arranging for a while, her first attempt at the art practice was in a small community room off Bond Street a few years ago. Finding that the art of carefully arranging flowers allows an individual to portray moods or concepts through creating sculptural shapes, the method is one she likens to abstract drawings. Creating the series as a combination of these two interests, and in turn creating abstraction on paper, the series also lays out Lauren’s decision on how shapes work together; “what to conceal, or not,” while also imagining the person behind the scene arranging the flower and creating a narrative with the viewer. “They’re really fun to make!”
Hoping to extend the project beyond just a solitary practice, Lauren has begun speaking with her friend Haruka Hirata, currently at Sogetsu, an Ikebana school in Japan. Discovering similarities through discussion, the pair will soon work together on an ongoing series where Lauren also hopes to create personalised Ikebana portraits for people – “all they’d need to tell me is what their favourite plants and flowers are! I imagine it a bit like sending someone a bouquet of flowers, just on paper instead.”
Currently working on various projects at home, Lauren is spending time developing a new still life series while brainstorming for an upcoming exhibition later in 2021. This in between time of the pandemic has also allowed Lauren to see areas that her style could be applied to next, noting an interest in maybe working in textiles and clothing. “Through the weirdness of the pandemic I’ve found more time to concentrate on my work than I have in years, so I just want to keep building on that, and hopefully more commissions, collaborations with brands and individuals to create fun things!”
In the meantime, Lauren is busy working with Untangle, a bereavement support-focused start up. Creating illustrations and aiding the brand in developing its tone of voice “to help comfort those in need of support”, Lauren’s approach is influenced by the loss of her father three years ago, “and with that experience I found that it can be weirdly difficult to find the help you, or your family, needs when you’ve had a loss – whether that’s emotional or practical.” Fans of her work can also keep updated with her work via Eye See Sound, a series of monthly playlists Lauren puts together on Spotify, featuring “songs to draw, paint and make to”, which she also illustrates her very own covers for too.
Lauren Doughty: Ikebana Practitioners
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.