- All right, my name is Lauren "Lo" Harris.
I'm an illustrator and animator currently based in Brooklyn, New York.
In my practice, I like to focus on joy, confidence, humanity, and I like to use, you know, very strong figures and relational compositions to sort of imagine a more just and kind world.
There's this element of vibrance of color and characters are very, very strong in my work.
(laid-back funk music) I did not study art.
I am a self-taught artist.
I've always been interested in digital art.
I remember when my dad first got one of those fat back computers, I would be on Microsoft Paint all the time, just trying to paint away with my little mouse.
I never really considered my art form to be that serious or to be something that could become my career one day.
I thought more that way about creative writing because that's what I was trained in and I had that confidence, so I ended up going off to college to study journalism.
I, for the last year or so, had been working in the major news organization in this high stress environment trying to cover the news while you're in New York City where there's a whole curfew and there are fireworks popping all the time and to hear George Floyd dying in your ear over and over and over and then to still have to look at, you know, your coworkers and look at your boss and be like everything is fine, to pretend like this conversation about my humanity was something that I could be unfazed by.
That was kind of the pushing point for me.
That was kind of the point in which I drew my piece, Justice.
That peace is very emblematic of that specific time where we are both in protest and also in a pandemic.
So I want my work to kind of exist in a space where we are acutely aware of what's going on.
I want the audience to recognize and appreciate a sense of joy in spite of the chaos of the world, not in ignorance of the chaos of the world.
Although trauma and pain is a part of the narrative of what it is to be black and in America, I am very, very purposeful in being one of the storytellers of the other aspect of the, "Hey, here's the joyous side."
There's a complex humanity that goes into that narrative and not to even discredit the other side of the narrative, but I think that what I'm doing is an equal contribution to the full story.
Companies and brands and folks kept coming up to me and asking more about my work and, you know, it got to a point where I felt confident in my ability to kinda fly on my own.
And this is the space, this is the calling that allows me to actually use my voice in the way that it was meant to be used.
All of the experiences that I've had have actually all come together in this perfect circle.
Every skill where I thought, "Oh, maybe I should do this instead," is helping me in some way as an artist and I think that it's so fantastic and so wild how the universe works that way because not only was I interested in creative writing, so I do have the ability to convey my words in writing but I also went to this journalism school and I understand the importance of really getting to the point and cutting out the fat and what's the lead of what I'm trying to do here?
Marketing has definitely helped frame the way that I think about where my art stands in the industry, my interest in digital storytelling, animation.
Working as an animator has definitely contributed to the the ways in which I decide to put things together.
All of these things have come together so beautifully.
I felt like, "Man, if I don't make this decision and do this, it would be kind of like the universe giving me free ice cream and me saying no!"
I've gradually been able to push myself to create things that would've otherwise intimidated me as an artist, drawing backgrounds, drawing objects, drawing animals, building my universe.
I have this #LoHarrisUniverse.
I'm obsessed with the idea of exploring the boundaries and the world that my style can create, you know, like piece by piece and just venturing further into that world.
You know what a donut in the Simpsons will look like.
You don't have to wait for them to draw.
You kind of understand the styles is so distinct, it's so potent, that you understand how they would go about that.
I want to be able to have that same sort of universe and place where people can really kind of understand how my work works and they can see my work applied in a variety of different mediums, whether it's printed materials or video games or amusement parks.
When I figure out how to draw something in my style, I'm like, "Oh, I understand that now."
Now we have trees!
(laughs) My work is very approachable.
There is this invitation, there is this warmth, there is this sort of Southern hospitality that is implied.
You know, I often like to think about how the characters relate to each other and to the viewer.
So there's just this Alabama, this Southern warmth, that is prevalent in everything I do that underscores my own personality.
People assume that creative work is easy.
If creative work was easy, we would have many more beautiful things to be looking at, let me tell you that.
But people assume that creative work is easy and they assume that it's not worth as much.
You know what I mean?
Because you're not, you know, an engineer or a doctor.
And sometimes it's just simply out of ignorance.
It's not even going to be out of a predatory sort of intention, right?
Sometimes you just have to kindly educate a client and say, "Hey, this is how I work.
Here's a contract, I mean business, you know, here are the terms of this contract, including the revisions, including if you have any other revisions beyond this point, here's a fee."
And that really kind of gets them to say, "Oh, snap, this is serious and I need to be specific about what I'm asking for and I need to respect this person's time."
I don't think that it has to be all-consuming, I don't think that you have to say yes to everything, I don't think that you have to work for free or work for little to no pay or work for exposure.
Use your voice.
And if you're someone who has a very big voice, you can also use your voice to make space for other people's voices who need to be heard.