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Meet Lauren Steinberg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Steinberg.

Hi Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
I grew up in an old house. Old for Los Angeles that is. It’s on a palm tree-lined street and is the house where my grandmother raised my father and aunt. As a kid, I was drawn to the anachronistic, dream-like aura of the house. I collected objects from bygone eras I would find in its closets and crevices, like drapes with surreal floral patterns, a thermostat, a glass doorknob. Layered with the patina of age, I imbued these things with great value. I eventually used them as props in my photographs, weaving together a narrative about the quality of time.

Driving through older pockets of the city, I used a medium format camera to photograph overlooked architecture that evoked a past I romanticized yet never experienced. I tracked down an abandoned house in the Angeles National Forest where I co-curated an exhibition- a carnival of sorts pointing to the uncertain conditions of our generation. I found myself working in an antique shop with virtuoso “pickers” who helped me find curious objects and furniture that I used to make art. Sometimes the finds emerged as pedestals for my sculptures, other times as sculptural arrangements for my stage-like gallery installations. More recently, I’ve spent long afternoons in used bookstores pouring over children’s books and out-dated technical manuals for graphics to use in my printed collages.

Through these experiences, I have honed my ability to use found objects and images as slippery symbols. This form of communication, rearranging symbols to suggest new meaning, is central to my work as a graphic designer and artist.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Shortly after my 21st birthday, I woke up in a hospital bed connected to tubes and machines, limbs wrapped in casts and mounted in a fixed position. I had been flattened by a speeding driver while delivering a couple of pizzas from one side of the street to the other. I sustained traumatic injuries to my head and body- shattered femur, shattered pelvis, collapsed lung, fractured skull. The good folks at UCLA Medical Center put me back together with bolts and rods, but there wasn’t much they could do to repair my eye. The accident left me partially blind and forever changed the way I see and interpret the world.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a graphic designer, but I’m also an artist. The two realms of my practice are distinct yet nurture each other. As a designer, I enjoy working collaboratively. My experience designing websites, developing visual identities and photographing for artists and emerging brands lets me be a translator of sorts. I find joy in communicating my clients’ ideas into an aesthetic experience. “Quality Above Everything” is my design ethos, inspired by the legendary Apple Pan restaurant (serving burgers and pies on Pico since 1947). Recent projects include website and graphics for Evan Cooper (a New York Times best-selling author), Life Between Cakes (a multi-media event producer), Figures on a Landscape (an artist run print studio) and Bodega Bunnies (a female-founded creative agency).

As an artist, I like to experiment with materials and processes, synthesizing elements of thought into new visual and cognitive combinations as I traverse the process of meaning making. I make and collect objects, then situate them as still lifes in front of the camera or arrange them as sculptural poems. I alter and rearrange images from forgotten catalogs, books and media to make kaleidoscopic prints.

My work has been exhibited at institutions and sites including the Every Woman Biennial at the Bendix Building, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Acid Free Book Fair at Blum and Poe, The Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles City College, and in the Angeles National Forest. My first artist book, The Basement Archive (with an introduction by artist, activist and educator Harry Gamboa Jr.), was published by Sming Sming Books and is held in the Whitney Museum Library Collection and Los Angeles Contemporary Archives.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Now, more than ever, I want to use my skills to help burgeoning small businesses, people and projects that are socially and environmentally conscious. Showing up and speaking out is so important to me. As an artist, it can be easy for me to live within the bubble of my own creation. Yet, the tumultuous political, social and health crises of 2020 helped me realize the importance of connection and community. I have all these skills and it means so much to me to design for projects that dare to imagine a brighter future.

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Image Credits:

Lauren Steinberg

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