Lauren Kelly Small is a Graphic Artist, Illustrator and Fashion designer living and working from her home in the Orara Valley, just outside Coffs Harbour, Australia. You can find her work on her blog and at gingerkellystudio.com
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
My memory is a bit hazy but as far as I know I started drawing when I first learned to hold a pencil, and there's never been a time when I didn't draw...
I suppose the beginning of when I started to take my art seriously was when I was recovering from a few horse riding accidents and the only thing I could manage to do for the long months of recovery was sit with a sketchbook in my lap and just draw everything I thought of. Dreams, imagined stories with fantastical creatures... I was also reading alot of fantasy, myths, legends and folktales at the time so that fueled my fascination with folklore and fantasy illustration.
My jewelery making is a fairly recent creative endeavor. I've been designing and creating my own clothes for a long time and I'd wanted to try making some jewelery too. I bought a few vintage beads that looked really interesting and after doing a little research I made my first pair of earrings.
It sort of exploded after that, (not literally) but I seem to be addicted to gathering old bits of jewelery and turning them into new pieces that are sort of an extension of the fantasy illustration. I can imagine my fairytale nymphs and fairies would wear my jewelery.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Sit outside under the trees in Autumn, with all the falling leaves gathering around me and just spend all day drawing. I'm never more happy than when I have a pencil and paper in front of me and theres nothing else to think of except fill the page with my imagination. Of course, its also a bonus if there is chocolate ice cream nearby....
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Because I'm running Ginger Kelly completely by myself, I'm often struggling to manage my time each day so that I can get everything done in between days where I'll do nothing but draw and paint... Its very easy to let my creative side get carried away and it often does! But there's a business plan to organize and self promotion can be time consuming, not to mention the piles of housework and paperwork that stacks up when I'm not looking.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?I really didn't believe I was going to grow up so I didn't have any plans. My childhood was spent daydreaming... but as far back as I can remember I have been addicted to drawing. I was completely absorbed with the natural world around me and loved all the animals I grew up with and the creatures I would find when I would spend hours exploring the paddocks and creeks around my home in the Orara Valley, NSW Australia.
Though I didn’t immediately pursue an artistic career when I finished school, spending a few years training in equine husbandry and young horse education, I quickly realised that formal education was making me frustrated and it was drawing and illustration where my passion really lay.
What item in your collection would you like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
I've always wanted to have my walls covered in art so getting my artwork printed on canvas or framed is something I've been longing to do.
A framed print of Hedgewitch is at the top of my wishlist
What other artists out there do you love?
I adore the artwork of the master fairy painters Edward Hughes and John Atkinson Grimshaw. Grimshaw’s painting ‘Spirit of the Night’ is one of my absolute favourites. I also love the darker illustrations of Victorian children’s book illustrator Arthur Rackham and the vivid, strange fairy scenes painted by John Anster Fitzgerald. Another two masters that I greatly admire are Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the prolific painter of mythical and Shakespearean women, John William Waterhouse. Their medieval maidens and rich symbolic scenes have provided me with inspiration to last a lifetime.
More recent fantasy illustrators such as Brian Froud and Charles Vess have also left fairy shaped marks on my imagination. There is an ever growing list of contemporary digital artists that I am simply in awe of including Diane Özdamar, Lisa Falzon, and Annie Stegg.
On my bedroom wall I have a print of 'Beauty and Death' by Xiao Bing. Its the first thing I see every morning and it always inspires me to imagine magical places and creatures...
What does your future hold?
Hopefully I’ll be knee deep in illustrations, with all my creative endeavours in full swing. I want to have more art exhibitions, go to art fairs and have a stall at some of the handmade and indie art markets around Australia. There are so many things I want to do and learn more about, including photography, silversmithing and maybe even sculpture...
I have dreams if travelling again... I want to go back to Ireland.
I’m also hoping I’ll have my own studio space soon. Even if I have to carve a little Hobbit house out of the side of a hill, I’m determined to move into my own space where I can stretch my imagination and where I’ll be allowed to paint on the walls.