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Meet Laina Miller of Laina Lynn in Altadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laina Miller.

Laina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I would describe myself as an artist. Sure, my career encompasses design, illustration, and art direction, but I usually use those labels to categorically describe what I do in order to land a job. Fundamentally, I am an artist. A creative. A maker full of clever concepts with a deep desire to create with my hands.

As a kid, I spent afternoons collaging my potential futures using paint, glue, and scraps from the TV Guide. Following the repeated advice I had been given, I chose not to strive toward my dreams of becoming a working artist, and I instead grew into a career as a Branding Designer and Art Director for various companies including Seychelles Footwear, L’Oreal Matrix, Izze, and OPI.

When some of my personal projects gained attention from The New York Times and Elle Magazine, I was encouraged to focus on a brand of my own. Last year, after a series of major life trauma and events, I chose to shift gears from the corporate world and go back to my roots of art and making. Nowadays I create art and design products that draw from my life experiences and the environment around me.

Most recently, I was focusing on a series of illustrations that I created as an exercise in self-care during the process of loss and grief; a stunning example of how art and beauty are often borne in the most tender places. Currently, I have a line of paper goods including prints and greeting cards that can be purchased through my website and in boutiques across California.

I also have a textile collection featuring my illustrations and patterns in the works, which will launch later this year. As the future of my brand expands one thing is certain; the designs will be crafted, serene, and personal. I like to believe it is this calm intimacy that viewers connect to, and the reason they choose to bring my pieces into their homes.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The struggle for me has not been in landing jobs or making a ton of money – although, there have been some major ups and downs. My struggle has been more internal around working for other people’s companies and feeling like I’m just another cog in the corporate wheel. As an employee in that world, I’ve always felt like I was wasting my talents and simply being used for my skill set.

This – and the general corporate structure of sitting at a desk in a windowless office for ten hours/day – has been something I’ve struggled with my entire career. I’ve taken time and done a lot of work on my own self-value to build up enough confidence to believe that I am worthy of building a business of my own and that I deserve the success that comes from my own personal brand, and then finally take the leap.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My company is a paper and textile brand. I paint and illustrate all of the patterns and designs, which are turned into prints and greeting cards and applied to various home textiles, such as tea towels, napkins, and pillows. There is an organic harmony between Laina Lynn products and nature, from the linework and silhouettes of the art to the 100% organic hemp and soy-based inks used in textile production.

To be honest, as I grow my business and product line I am most proud of myself. I’m proud that I have climbed the massive hurdle that is self-doubt and can see the other side. I’ve been through a couple of phases where the ideas don’t come as naturally, or my critical eye becomes a little too critical but, in contrast to the past, I’m not allowing myself to cower under insecurity.

Instead, I’m learning to breathe through each phase, knowing I’ll come out the other side happier and even more productive. I always do. I’m also proud that I am able to push out interesting, unique, and original art inspired by my life experiences and the environment around me rather than trends, market demands, or the opinion of some CEO who knows very little about aesthetics.

What were you like growing up?
I’ve been told that when I was young, I was “a little spit-fire”: outspoken, chatty and always involved in something creative. I can remember having a creative project on deck at all times, whether I was making jewelry, latch-hook rugs, or a painting.

My world was a dance from youth through my first year in college. Daily life was consumed by ballet classes and rehearsals. Summers were dedicated to out-of-state dance programs and workshops. I’d have it no other way. The discipline, organization, musicality, and communication skills I gained were invaluable.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jenn Emerling, Aga Maru and  Mathieu Young.

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