This week I’m delighted to feature the work of Lauren Williams, a talented Fiber Artist who makes ‘Modern Bohemian’ hand dyed wall hangings which have a very distinctive and chic style.
Fiber art in the US is what we in the UK generally refer to as ‘textiles’ and encompasses a wide range of techniques. The 1960’s and 70’s saw a surge of popularity in fiber art, way beyond the original weaving techniques which are thought to have started back in the 13th century in Arabia, with artists exploring work that could be hung on walls for decoration, as opposed to just producing functional items such as blankets.
Nowadays there are some incredible artists who really have turned their craft into art, creating modern pieces such as intricately woven macrame dreamcatchers to large-scale tapestries and wall art.
Lauren Williams says her tapestries are a ‘canvas, but with movement’ which seems a great way of describing her work.
If you are a lover of Instagram you may well have come across @bohobylauren as she has gained a big following and is in high demand with Interior Designers using her pieces for commercial, home and event styling – but she still manages to make time to produce tapestries to sell to the public, including a few custom pieces each month.
From her interview, it is clear how much each piece of work means to her and how much care and time she takes over it …..
I understand you are a self-taught painter, were you working within a creative industry before you launched ‘Boho by Lauren’?
I’ve always been a maker of various sorts since I was little… but professionally, I began as an event producer and evolved into event design. I focused on upscale events in Hollywood and backstage green rooms for film and TV. I was able to creatively style spaces, which I loved. Then I moved on to teaching yoga and opened a yoga ad spin studio with my husband in LA. After having our first baby we sold the studio, left LA and moved to Dallas. Since then, I’ve used my tapestries as a creative outlet and just recently made it my full time job.
Am I right in thinking that you somewhat naturally started selling your fibre art, after posting something you made for yourself online and getting a positive response?
YES! I made my first tapestry as a solution to a large, blank wall in a rental home. We have moved 6 different times since coming to Dallas. Each rental comes with its own challenges for decorating so I never like to spend too much money when it comes to new homes. I would buy canvases or repaint old canvases when I wanted to refresh our décor.
Then I had the idea of making a canvas, but with movement – so I got a wooden dowel and attached over 400 strands of yarn to make a giant “canvas”. Then I went to the backyard and just got really messy playing with dyes. Once it was dry, I hung my “tapestry” in the dining room and posted a photo to Instagram. The response was immediate! I started making them for friends and family who asked for their own hanging and quickly started selling them on Instagram.
How does your design process work – do you have a specific idea for the pieces and create a sketch, or start working and see what evolves naturally?
Sometimes I start with a sketch… however working with a canvas that essentially changes with each movement makes it difficult to execute an exact deign. I’ve learned to work with this medium but it was very challenging at the beginning. I’ve come to enjoy the process of NOT knowing how a tapestry will turn out. I have my initial ideas but I have to be very patient and forgiving with any preconceived expectations… if you think about it, this form of art is a great way to exercise acceptance and appreciation for things out of our control.
Do you ever paint freehand on, or add embellishments to the tapestries after they have been created?
I love to add beaded detail to the landscape style tapestries – I use gold and silver beads for additional texture and shine that resembles a sun or a moon. Those pieces take so long to create and I haven’t made one in a while… maybe its time I work on one for the next sale!
What inspires your work?
My home – I like to hang each tapestry in my house somewhere for a few days before deciding if it’s finished. If I don’t like it on my walls, I wont sell it. If it’s a piece that I like to look at in my home, then I feel excited to share and send it off for someone else to incorporate into their space.
You’re a mom, how does working professionally as an Artist and running your own business fit into family life?
It’s really tough actually. I’ve been struggling with the balance lately. My husband travels each week for work and often I’m home on my own with three little boys… between soccer, homework, birthday parties, school events and the daily chores of maintaining a home and a family, I’m so exhausted.
Finding time to answer emails, respond to messages or even execute new designs and ideas for my work has been so hard. I have to slow down a little and sell fewer pieces to make it all work. My family is my priority, so making sure they always feel the attention and love is my main motivation.
When I have extra energy left over, I always retreat to my studio though! I crave the creative release that making my tapestries allows.
Yes I have a few large walls that allow me to stage the big tapestries. I also painted a wall bright white in my garage that allows me to stage my product photos for the shop. I also love working with designers because they take great photos and allow me to use them for social media.
Instagram is such a great way to begin – take the time to research your demo. Understand what they like and what they are looking at on Instagram. Follow them and like their posts as well as pay attention to the hashtags used.
Also, never be afraid to reach out to accounts who share similar followers or have a style that works well with your art. Offer trade or simply send them a piece for them to style in their space. Make sure they have followers who are interested in your type of work, however. Just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t mean that their followers will follow you.
Keep in mind your price point, too. Align yourself with others who are in the same price range.
I take on a few custom tapestry orders each month. Sign up for my newsletter http://www.bohobylauren.com/ to know when new openings are available for commissioned work.
Lauren also makes ‘ready made’ tapestries to sell and posts on Instagram when new pieces are coming up.
I think Lauren is a real inspiration, both in terms of the dedication she shows to juggle her busy family life with her desire to use her creative gifts and the amount of time and love she puts into her work.
Pieces can be shipped worldwide and I think it’s safe to say the tapestries are one-of-a-kind and would be the making of any room – so if you would like to have a chic, statement piece of art on your walls, whilst retaining that modern boho vibe, check out Lauren’s website or follow her Instagram where you can’t fail to be inspired: