Lauren YS on Self Worth, Miyazaki, and Keeping a Healthy Schedule

Continuing our month-long celebration of International Women’s Day, Lauren YS joins us for a conversation surrounding her two gorgeous 12-color silkscreen editions. Available on reflective foil and fine art paper, Noodle Time is a celebration of femininity, strangeness, sex, and food. In our exclusive interview, YS details her early gigs, influences in comics, and advice on staying healthy.

1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this image?
Lauren YS
: A playful celebration of the femme, created particularly for this.

1x: Tell us about your execution of this image. What materials were used, how much time did it take, etc?
:  This image was created as a black and white ink drawing and then colored digitally, then converted to a layered silkscreen.

1x: What were your earliest interactions with art growing up? 
I grew up watching animated films that really affected me –– Miyazaki, Disney films, anime –– I think that was the initial hook that pulled me into visuals. As a teenager I worked at the Denver Art Museum and read a lot of comics (Jhonen Vasquez, Junji Ito vibes), watched a lot of cartoons and got very into the Tokyo Pop Underground genre of art. I made money in high school by drawing/painting on people’s shoes and giving fake tattoos in sharpie. When I was 16 I wrote a graphic novel about a girl who sews an octopus onto a headless body for a boyfriend, which weirdly won an award from the Scholastics.

1x: Who or what was a prominent figure that played a role in your formation as an artist?
I was very affected by artists like Moebius and Miyazaki – something about two dimensional dreamworlds that really intoxicated me and made me want to chip away at my own surreality. I think seeing Spirited Away for the first time was the turning point where I decided I wanted to be an artist. I felt like I needed to spend my life bringing to life things that don’t exist, and I knew I’d never be satisfied if I didn’t start now.  

1x: What are some of the biggest challenges to being a working artist?
 Trying to constantly stay honest with yourself about what direction you need to push towards, when to speak up, when to hold one’s tongue. Not being too hard on myself, yet never becoming complacent. Knowing one’s self-worth while staying humble. Keeping a healthy schedule. Finding space for other things. Creating a separation from work and life (could there be?!) Being a good art patron at the same time as a good artists. Trying to support causes I believe in without being didactic, and at the same time trying to protect myself from letting politics infect my work and mental health.

1x: In what ways is the art industry becoming more or less accepting and equitable for women? 
 It feels like progress is being made, albeit slowly, given the monumental disparities between male and female artists if you look at statistics. However it’s powerful to see strides being made-for example, traditionally the Venice Biennale has featured between 26-43% female artists, yet in 2019 it included 53% female artists. News like that is powerful and should incite change in other areas of the art world.

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“noodle time” ink on paper for @abvgallery “paper trails” show • • • Been a rough time for me lately, how strange that when you have something so precious ripped from inside you, it leaves space for the displacement of other things? Have you ever felt love or lust or joy as acutely as in the throes of grief? I am exhausted and so happy and so torn all at once. The good news is I think im barely back to thinking about the body and the mind and sex and strangeness, all the feral power it takes to be human and conscious and true to something , anything good, or bad even if it’s real….feels good to have things cut open, I am resisting the urge to go numb, keep me alive keep me pulsing and angry and raw ok? • • Ps I am in my hometown for @thecrushwalls this week and so happy to be painting where I grew up, please be gentle with me if you see me crying in the lift, I love you

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1x: What are changes that you would like to see?
I would like to see curators actively following, supporting and pushing the work of female artists as much as our male counterparts, which requires research and effort, as we are much fewer and further between–without necessarily needing the premise of “all-female” lineups. I would also like to see more trans and gender non-conforming artists’ work shown in prestigious art institutions.  

1x: What does a balanced art industry look like to you?
When women earn the same amount as men (rather than 74¢ to their dollar). More work by women in museum’s permanent collections (I find the statistic that out of over 10,000 artists’ work in private collections, 87% are male, and 85% are white –– particularly horrifying.) Lineups that, as a rule, present gender parity. More femme-identifying people in positions of leadership. More coverage of femme-identifying artists in publications of note. 

1x: What artists have inspired you in the past? Who are some woman-identifying artists that inspire you today?
 Yayoi Kusama. Jenny Saville. Louise Bourgeois. Noelle Longhaul. Jenny Holzer. Kara Walker. Marina Monteagudo. Kristen Liu-Wong. Grimes. Louise Zhang. Sarah Sitkin. Jillian Evelyn. Soey Milk. Helen Beard. Georgia Hill. Paola Delfin. Stickymonger. Swoon. Faith 47. Björk. Hellen Jo

1x: What advice would you give to an aspiring artists?
Accept that you will fail, and fail again, and the power of that acceptance will give you freedom to grow further than you could’ve imagined. Understand that one woman’s success does not take away from your own, and never let jealousy or competition override the responsibilities of sisterhood. Be militantly honest with yourself and others – be kind, be angry, be forgiving, work hard.

Follow Lauren YS on Instagram at @squid.licker.