Anna: Today we are talking with Lauren Lomprey, the artist and owner behind the creative company, The Doodling Nomad, a brand that offers prints and unique travel-centric stickers. So, thanks for talking with us today, Lauren.
Lauren:Thanks for having me.
Lauren's Background and Going to Alaska
Anna: Yeah! Ok,so first off, can you give us some info on your background? Tell us your story.
Lauren: I was born and raised in Las Vegas. I've kinda always been an artist. I got my first art kit when I was 6 years-old. Art was just always a thing. I played violin as a teenager, that was kind of my art expression. I was always into lettering, calligraphy and all that stuff and that is how I started diving more into the art aspect of my creativity. About 5 years ago, I went to Alaska, on a whim, just to get away and try something different. Drove up and that's when my creativity was like “Pow"! When I was isolated in the middle of nowhere Alaska.
Kat: Were either of your parents artistic or did you have someone that encouraged you?
Lauren: My mom was always very artistic. She put me in sewing lessons when I was like 4 or 5 years-old. She would take me out of school to drive me to Boulder City to go to sewing lessons. So she always encouraged creativity and yeah...My dad was creative in his own way, but not really in an art way.
Anna: So what made you pick Alaska out of all places?
Lauren: Randomness. I was between jobs and all my work experience was in the legal field and I did not want to become a lawyer. That did not interest me at all. I saw how many hours they worked and I just didn't feel like it was awesome. And so, I had quit that job, became a nanny and then my nanny family moved away after just a few months so I was left like "Well crud. What do I do"? And I had a friend, he got a job in Denali National Park and Alaska wasn't on my radar. I was never someone that was like, "I wanna go to Alaska". Never on my radar. I thought it was too cold. Everyone lived in igloos. I was ignorant I knew nothing about Alaska. And it just kind of seemed like the perfect, change. So I applied to this job, middle of nowhere. Again, my city-self had no idea what middle of nowhere really meant, until I got there (laughing). I show up in my yoga pants and flip-flops after driving 6 hours through the tundra of Alaska. Oh and with a random dude that just picked me up in Fairbanks...(laughter)...drops me off at this po-dunk gas station, I couldnt even describe..I roll up just like "Whoa. Fish out of water", no cell reception, no internet, it was super remote. We primarily dealt with locals there, but yeah, I showed up. I was one of 2 females that worked there. Out of 10 men, there was 10 men, 2 females, and then just like all the workmen that came there.
Anna: What was the job?
Lauren: I was like a server/hostess for like this, it was like a cafe/restaurant, we sold gas, lodging, but lodging was like these double-wide trailers all stacked by each other. And uh..(laughing) the restaurant was you know, salmon everything. Salmon soup, salmon burritos, salmon tacos, salmon salad, everything. I don't eat salmon anymore. I don't do salmon. But yeah, it was just kind of like...I'm someone that kind of likes drastic changes. I think that a drastic change can be good for you, so I just kind of went with it. Figured I was young. What was there to lose? And I showed up in the middle of nowhere Alaska.
Trying a Tiny Trailer and Starting the Business
Kat: Is that when you started living in a trailer?
Lauren: The trailer thing was only very recently. That's kinda when the trailer idea started tho because I living pretty nomadically. Just going from Alaska down to Vegas, or I would spend my winter somewhere else. Like I spent a winter in Joshua Tree and then went back up to Alaska. That nomadic lifestyle, I was like, I want a trailer. Because I'm sick of living with 20 other people in a tiny like living quarters. I would rather have my own tiny living quarters. But the trailer thing was very short-lived. Because, i think it was, well I got this 13 foot trailer and realized it was way too small to run a business out of. Plus it had no bathroom, no sink, anything. I also realized I have no building skills. I have no desire to build. So yeah, the trailer was short-lived. It's hopefully something in the future again, um, in a different way, kind of now that I have learned more about it, but just that nomadic thing, was the goal. The freedom. To just pick up and go.
Anna:That's awesome. I fantasized about living in a tiny house so many times, but with 2 little kids and a husband, I don't know how realistic that is right now. But it would be fun for vacationing. I think that would be awesome.
Lauren: Yeah! Now I live with my boyfriend and his 2 teenage daughters and so we were all not fitting in either a 13 foot trailer or a 30 foot trailer. (laughing) We were not fitting in a trailer. We were not doing that. No desire.
Kat: By the time you got your camper trailer, you had already started your business?
Lauren: Yep. Yeah.
Kat: So you go up to Alaska, that's when the creativity starts booming, how did you transition. or what made you transition from just a hobby artist to, oh, I can make a living out of this?
Lauren: It pretty much was almost just right off the bat.
Kat: I like it!!
Lauren: I mean..My very first summer when I was in isolation (laughing) um..I was really learning to be like creative and how can I express this in a way that is not calligraphy? Because I did see that the calligraphy market was heavily saturated and I just didn't see how I was gonna make a living or money doing that. It just seemed like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. So I was trying to figure out another way to do my art to make money and that came in to play the 2nd summer in Alaska. I was in south-central Alaska on an island and I just did a design that said "Go outside and play" and I turned it into a sticker. And oh, there's no cool stickers here, I want a cool sticker and so I got 100 of them and yeah, then it was a business from there. I just went selling it to all the kayak guides, all my co-workers. I was selling it at the bars in town. I literally carried around a pack of stickers with me and when I'd go to bars, I'd just like open up my pack of stickers like (laughing),"Here's my goods", and sell stickers at the bar. So at the bar on weekends, I would just sell stickers and then it was just non-stop from there. So from there I obviously grew with more designs and things like that.
Anna: That's cool. So how long have you been doing Doodling Nomad now?
Lauren: I have been doing it since August of 2016.
Anna: Ok, so that's when you were in Alaska? Around that time, right?
Lauren: Yep. And so, I started as a different name though. I only recently changed the name to Doodling Nomad back last summer. I was under Wild and Free Papery at first. I was still trying to figure out what it was I was doing. So papery was this kind of cool word that meant nothing and (laughing)… and then as I was pretty much doing just stickers, then it was Wild and Free Sticker Co., and then I felt like that was too long of a name and just entrepreneur life, I guess, I just wanted to change my name a thousand times. So now it's The Doodling Nomad and I'm happy with my name. It's wonderful.
Anna: It's catchy!
Lauren: I think it kind of encapsulates all that my stickers are about, Because even though, I'm not so nomadic anymore, that's what I think my stickers kind of capture is being different, unique, outdoorsy, whatever it may be, I have a little bit of everything in there.
Kat: Yeah. Community conscience. She just makes some of my favorite stickers, like the "Shop Local" one. We'll put a link to it in our show notes. You've got such a free spirit so it comes across nicely.
Lauren: Well thank you, Because sometimes my brain feels scattered so, I'm glad there is a concise uh…
Anna: I think that's the mind of an artist though.
Lauren: Yeah, I have to make like a thousand lists a day just to remember basic tasks or else I'll just get distracted and go on a tangent elsewhere and it's like 10 am, go to bank, 10:30 drive home from bank…(laughing)
Kat: Time blocking. That's the only way I got through college. Literally like color chunks of time.
Lauren's Creative Process
So, how do you find inspiration for your designs?
Lauren: Pretty much life. I, you know a lot of outdoors, but then also just life in general. My own personal experiences. You know the sticker," Create a beautiful life"that has a personal meaning to me and you know that's something I feel like I could share with others, with creating a beautiful life, yeah, it's pretty much just my own life. I just kind of find inspiration in little things that I do and put that into my art.
Anna; Well you just have an experience where you just see it perfectly? Like, do you see these instantly and then kinda create it from that thought or do you have a basic idea and then build upon that?
Lauren: It depends. Um..for the most part tho, I see the clear vision of the design, and then you know, it just kind of...maybe there's like little things I change as I get doing it but for the most part the "Shop Local" one, I saw a bag with fruits an veggies hanging out of it with words "shop local" on it. Like I just do a quick sketch to get my ideas down and then from there go in and design it.
Anna: What process do you use to actually create your stickers?
Lauren: So ,I use an app on my iPad Pro. It's called Procreate and I don't really touch any Adobe, 'cause I think it's complicated. But for Procreate, it's really great 'cause I can just, it's just drawing. There are no tips and tricks. There's not things that do things for you. It's just like drawing. So you pick a pen and you draw. That's it. It's a simple thing. You erase. You can add layers which is really nice. A lot of my more detailed stickers have layers. So it has those benefits that a program like Adobe would have which is like the layers, the edit-ability, stuff like that. But it is so simple. It's just drawing. Anyone can pick up Procreate and draw something. It's so simple. There is no learning curve, aside from maybe like a few minutes of learning where things are at, but it's such like a seamless drawing experience. So much so, I've actually gone from using my iPad to a piece of paper and when I want to erase, the erase tool on Procreate is in the corner and I'll tap the corner of my paper. And then I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this is paper." So I just love how simple it is because Adobe programs, from the moment I looked at them, it was the most complicated process I thought. You gotta do this and this and upside-down backwards just to move something. I can't figure out the basic functions of Adobe. It's so difficult. I have built an entire business on Procreate. So most graphic designers would use Adobe, you're seeing a lot more people use Procreate now, because they realize how easy it is. It is so easy and so fun and you can buy different brushes for it that give texture, that do calligraphy, all kinds of stuff. So I'll use some other little graphic design apps with that, because sometimes I need a perfect circle. I cannot draw a perfect circle, unfortunately. I can come pretty close but I can't draw a perfect circle, so I'll use another graphic app to get a circle or sometimes fonts. It's not always hand-lettered , it's fonts I'll use and there's a different app I'll use to manipulate the font in a curve shape, not a straight line. Stuff like that, but for the most part everything I do can be done on Procreate alone. You can use it for so many different things too! Even if you're someone that needs to do a quick lettering or calligraphy, you can just quickly do those things. And then you have a file. And it's done. And with Procreate you can export it to be a photo-shop file.
Anna: Oh cool! So you can bring it over to Photo-shop?
Lauren: You can bring it over to Photo-shop to do some of the finishing touch stuff. I don't do any of that.
Anna: Have you ever thought about getting the equipment to print it all yourself or is that just so expensive?
Lauren: It's like 50 thousand dollars for the machine.
Anna: Holy cow!
Lauren: It's just not feasible for me to print my own stickers. I've looked into machines. Yeah, they are massive. I mean, I do love just the design but I also have a very specific way I like things to be and look. Because it's a whole package, you know? So often on my Etsy, I've since closed my Etsy store, but, when I had Etsy, you know, it was, the reviews were "It's the total package. I'm getting this cute little paper bag that they're coming in…
Kat: And your cards are cute. Everything about your brand is cute and it goes together and it's just so well-done. That's one of the things I was really impressed with when you first came to the market. I do pride myself on, you know, like us, we've been in retail. It's probably where you get it. You understand what goes into a retail thing. A lot of my experience with the Farmer's Market is coaching these businesses to get next level. So when they're beginning, they're at home, they're figuring it out, they're testing brands, or testing logos, they don't know how to do, you know, they can't make their own logos. I can't make my own logo, so I'm not saying anything…(laughing). But when somebody comes out that understands those little pieces and it's already all together it is impact-full and it's awesome to see. When you look at brands and you see a well-developed brand, you see they can make it. They're gonna be awesome. They're gonna get their own following. I don't have to do a lot. And as long as I know she's here and she's happy and she's making a living, I'm cool.
Lauren: Yeah. I mean it's taken 3 years to get to this level. I would say at this point, I am finally comfortable with everything in my business. Everything has it's process. Everything looks a certain way. I'm not changing anything anytime soon. Even my booth. I'm not changing how it looks anytime soon. It's gonna look the same. But in the early years, everything was constantly changing. Because I was trying to figure out a look and the craft paper bag was always a thing. That's the one thing that's always been a thing. Because I liked that it was paper, recyclable, and it just fits the aesthetic. It's my vibe. It's a lot of little things. But, you know, it's taken me a few years to get to now, where I can just show up to a market, pop up my table and I'm gone before anyone even knows it's done.
Kat: You are.You are out of there fast! And I love that. Because by the end of a market, not really at the Farmer's Market, it's like the perfect time, 3 hours is like so perfect. But I've done markets that are like an 8 hour day and it's just... Okay, it's an 8 hour day, boo-hoo, but it's exhausting to talk to so many people in a day.
Lauren: And also that's part of then why I dwindled down from ever doing anything else. When I was doing prints, I had to take a whole extra bin. When I was doing pins, it was a whole extra thing. And my stickers, my entire inventory can fit in a backpack and I can hop on a plane and fly anywhere and still be running my business. I ran it back and forth from Alaska to Vegas. I would take all my stickers with me to Alaska and bring them all back.
Anna: So, would you ever go back to living in a trailer full time?
Lauren: Yeah. Yeah, so I, it's funny too 'cause then a big reason why I didn't do the trailer thing, was I realized the extreme cost of towing a trailer and how expensive it is. That's kind of part of, there's a thousand reasons that ended up being why I pulled back from the trailer idea, but that was one of the big reasons of..I need to grow my business a little more, I need to kind of hone in this idea of trailer. I can be a bit, uh, impulsive and I think it was like I saw this perfect trailer and I bought it and then once I was living in it realized almost the magnitude of what I still had to work on and grow and fix and stuff like that. So definitely down the road, I would love to be doing the trailer life. Right now, I'm planning out a platform build for my truck at least so that will get me around to markets that I do out of town. But yeah, it's at least not as overwhelming as a trailer, having to tow it and things like that, but I still get a bed, cover, you know. That's pretty much, I'm fine with sleeping in a vehicle. (laughing) Like I car-camped my way down from Alaska to Las Vegas two summers ago. I just drove the way alone, car-camped the whole way down and uh, it was great! I had a bedroom, I had a garage, I had a kitchen...(laughing) and I was just driving a little Subaru Forester at the time. But, uh, I didn't get eaten by a bear, so it worked. Once when I was in northern, northern Alaska, I was on a hike and we took a canoe to this secluded spot, hike and whatever and we see a sign made out of a paper plate that said " Bear in area with 3 cubs" you know, uh,"watch out". So we bee-lined it out of there. The whole way, I'm like terrified. I'm like looking at the bush, whatever...like a cub is just going to run across and mamma bear is just gonna attack me. And so we get back to camp and we had one work computer that was connected to the internet and I thought, I'm gonna look up a bear attack. That's gonna make me not afraid of bears. Wrong.(laughter) I became exponentially more terrified.
Kat: Yeah. But I mean I just have, it's, I don't know, it's just respect for like the situation and animals and stuff around you. Water? Respect the water. It can kill you. Like, you know, it's always, for me, there's times where it's fun. But when you're with people that aren't aware and aren't respectful of nature, I was like, 'You're going to get killed". Something's gonna happen. I'm not going.
Lauren: Well, that's something we deal with here with heat. If you don't respect the heat, it can kill you. You'll find yourself in a bad situation. You know? I got lost at a hot spring hike in, um, the Arizona/Nevada border once, and cause some guy at the pool the night before, said "Take this way. It's a short-cut". But it was the middle of a heatwave in Vegas, it was the beginning of May. So we start hiking and we realize we are lost. It's 105 degrees, we ran out of water. Literally, boy scouts saved us. Like we got lucky that a boy scout group was taking canoes that day and they were in the harbor, or not the harbor, but it was like a little cove, I guess you could call it. Yes, we finally found our way back to just the hot spring which was then another 2 hours out. And we get back to the hot spring and one of the girls with a little bit of energy runs to the boy scouts, they run to us, carry all our packs. They fed us. They gave us water. They let us sleep at their camp for the night.
Kat: Oh my gosh!
Lauren: And then the next morning gave us food and water so we could then hike back out.
Anna: Go, boy scouts!
Lauren: They're taking pictures….
Kat: They came prepared.
Anna: That's why they have the slogan!
Kat: They probably got a badge for it!
Lauren: They did. And they took a picture of us and the scout leader was like,"You're the weakest link." She called me out as the weakest link.
Kat: The leader was a woman! So that's the young boy scouts, 'cause at a certain age they get guys. But until like 13, it's always the moms that are the leaders. So it was like some 13 year-olds that saved you!
Lauren: I was some 13-year-old's badge. Yeah, these 13 year-olds come around this corner and I was just like, "Yes, please. Carry my bag."
Anna: Well you're probably in their stories, now for the rest of their life.
Kat: You have probably inspired an entire generation of Nevada rangers. (laughing)
Anna: Well, actually, I was gonna ask..what's been your favorite adventure you've been on? 'Cause you've seen like you've done a lot of traveling so, is there like a favorite place you've been? or adventure you've had?
Lauren: Probably my favorite was when I worked on Fox Island in Alaska, that's when I was in south-central Alaska. I was there for 3 summers and that was just my favorite spot in general, 'cause I just got to see whales all the time. I got to see Humpback whales. I got to be a few feet away from orcas. They made me cry. It was the most intense experience. Yeah, probably just that. Being able to experience Alaska in general, has just been one of my favorite life experiences. I got to see some really cool stuff there, that I never would see here in the desert. Just really unique interactions with wildlife. It's not like at a zoo, you know?
Kat: And it's big wildlife. Like everything up there is massive. The whales, freakin' bugs…
Lauren: The mosquitoes are almost the size of my palm. My first summer is when I just got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Like, I had bites under my nails, between my fingers.
Anna: What is the climate like? Is it humid? Is that why there are so many mosquitoes?
Lauren: In northern Alaska, it was because we were on the river. So we were on the Yukon River which is what I'm assuming brought all the mosquitoes to that area. It wasn't really humid. Then in south-central Alaska, on the island it was humid, I mean, we got 3 weeks of rain a month, you know? It rained a lot. But there were never mosquitoes because it never got hot enough. In south central Alaska the weather always stayed kind of below 60, usually 55 and under and cold and rainy. In northern Alaska, we got up to 100.
Anna: Wow. That almost seems like would be the opposite.
Lauren: Yeah. Yep, but we got to 100 degrees in northern, where I was but in the winters there, they would get to negative 80. So they just had this insane temperature swing, but then they didn't have A/C or anything there; it was so remote. So when it's 100 and no A/C, not even my desert self was prepared. for that. Like it was bad. But then, it only lasts a week, because summer only lasts like 3 weeks there and then it's winter.
Anna: Well, do you feel like people in Alaska are environmentally minded since they are about as close to nature as you can get?
Lauren: There's kind of like a 50/50 of that. You'd be surprised at how many people aren't really environmentally conscience at all there. When I was in northern Alaska, we burned our trash, because you have to... there is no other option. There's no landfill. When you're 5 hours into the bush or tundra, whatever it is, there's not gonna be like a dump that comes to get your stuff... There's no recycling, there's no trash pick-up. You just burn everything. When I was in south central Alaska , the island I worked on, we were very environmentally conscience. We had solar panels that ran a pretty good amount of our equipment for running a huge operation on an island. It was surprising. And we also had our own water system, so our own water tanks that was spring fed water… And then we had our own septic up there, where we had, where we would recycle unused meats to give the, um, the dog kennel. We did a lot of things there too, but we were more civilized there. It was an island but it was only a 40 minute boat ride from town verses..and it was easy 'cause we had like a boat that transported our goods, so it was easy to transport things back and forth. The people that just lived so in the middle of nowhere, there is no recycling, there is no, maybe they are more environmentally conscience just because of the fact there's not really...They're not consuming as much of those plastic-wrapped things. They are killing their own animals and…
Anna: Well everyone used to burn their trash until, I want to say the '60's or '50's like, everybody did. They had to ban it in California because it was getting so bad.
Lauren: Yeah, exactly. So it's kind of like..it's almost nice that's there is not really landfills there cause…
Anna: Yeah. You're probably more mindful of how much waste they create.
Lauren: It's not obstructing your views and the stinkiness or anything …
Kat: Probably just more shocking when you come back to the mainland.. You're like "Holy moly, there's a lot of trash”
Lauren: Yeah, because really you just don't see trash up there like you do..
Kat: Well and if you keep trash doesn't that attract animals up there too?
Lauren: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: So it's like a survival thing..
Lauren: Yeah, because you have to be very careful of how you dispose of trash, especially if it has food in it. Like the cities...Like Anchorage has a huge, like, bear problem. Bears just get into their trash and do all kinds of crazy… I've kinda learned this phrase "a fed bear, is a dead bear"? So if a bear starts getting into your food, they're going to have to kill the bear because the bear is going to become comfortable with humans, then they start to get aggressive. So it's like this whole different eco-system almost you have to be aware of when you're up there. You just have to be more aware of, pretty much everything when you're there. Everything that you consume and do 'cause you have to figure out a way to get rid of it. So that was a big thing for us on the island was the environmentally conscience aspect of it and trying to make sure we weren't wasting as much food and producing as much waste. Because every bag of trash has to..it has so many steps, until it get to a landfill. Where as here, in St. George, you know you put your trash on the street, it goes to a landfill. There you're hauling it 3000 times because you have to transfer it from the trash bin, to the trash boat, from the trash boat, into town, from into town they take it...like it passes like so many hands.. ...just to get to a trash.
Kat: They charge you for that, right?
Lauren: I think so, yeah.
Kat: I bet that's expensive. Just seems like in Alaska, you have to pay attention to everything.
Lauren: Yeah. I mean you, you forget to put something on a boat. Now that boat has to make another trip, another 45 minute round trip, you know? So everything just...
Anna: Did you ever think about any of that stuff before you moved up there? Was that, any of the environmental thinking about waste and stuff..was that ever in your mind before then? Or was that kinda like a shock when you got there?
Lauren: No. I was definitely already on the hydro-flask, like reusable train, I guess we'll call it (laughs) like...
Kat: Well even if you're not into reusable, hydro is the way to go, like..
Kat: Hydro-flask- they'll change your life.
Lauren: I've got stickers to put on them!
Lauren: I was already kind of part of that world a little bit. Um, but yeah, being up there, you see, it's such on a magnified scale.. And then also you see climate change on a very like, whoa, intense scale. My first summer in south central Alaska seeing the glaciers, versus my last summer, the glaciers look totally different. Like they melted that much. In 2 years. You know? Or people would show me pictures from a decade ago and it was like, "whoa"!!
Anna: And what do people think is like, do people up there, do they talk about it a lot, or is that something that's just in their everyday conversation? Like they're driving by the glaciers everyday, like "it looks smaller."
Kat: Well, down here, you'd run into people down here that are like, "That's not a thing. That's made up." But up there, are there people that are like, "No. That's not a thing." Or are they like, "Yeah. we're screwed."?
Lauren: No, most people pay attention to it up there, I would say. Like, as far as like, especially with glaciers, things like that. It's the wildfires. All the wildfires that happen here that are like big news, that's like a pin-drop to Alaska, you know? 'Cause they're having hundreds of thousands of acres burn.
Anna: But that's 'cause it's not populated, right? that's the difference?
Lauren: But it's not populated. So, so the difference here is you know you have 10,000 acres burn but it's crossing a lot of houses here versus up there you're having hundreds of thousands of acres burn and they never once reach a dwelling. And so they don't have to do anything about it. But it still can be devastating to the wildlife aspect, cause that's a lot of wildlife that's displaced.
Kat: Which puts more pressure on everything. All the other systems that you guys have in place to try and negate the issues with the wildlife. That was a cool tangent....
The Process to Create Sticker and What Lauren Wish She Would Have Known Before Starting
When you start a sticker design, how long does it usually take you? Like from conception of idea to finish? Like holding the sticker in your hand?
Lauren: Um...about a week and a half. So the design itself take a day. I usually spend no more than one day on a design. Um, I don't have the attention for it. And that's that.
Kat: And finished is better than perfect,
Lauren: Yeah. So I'm just kind of focused on finishing a design and um...yeah, so I'll spend like a day on the design process, um, and then I send it my sticker printer and I get them within a week and a half.
Anna: That's awesome. Where do you get them printed?
Lauren: I go out of a company in southern California. It's called Vinyl Disorder. I bounce between them and Sticker Mule. Both are really good. Same quality, matte vinyl.
Anna: That's awesome. Yeah, those are heavy duty stickers.
Kat: Oh, I know. I love these stickers. I remember getting an email from Lauren and she was like, "Hey..I make stickers. Can I come to the Farmer's Market?". I'm like, "Sure." And I was blown away when she was setting up and I kept walking by and I was like "These are the best stickers I have ever seen" 'Cause they're nice, they're heavy, they're vivid. Like the designs are, they're just so unique. You know, they're playful and they're young and they're fun and it's just stuff that you don't see walking into any, like, you know souvenier shops. Like that's like the easiest souvenier to get and you can't find great, unique stickers sometimes, and so I was just like...I bought them for everybody. If you could start all over, what's one thing that you wish you would have known before starting Doodling Nomad?
Lauren: I wish I would have known more of the business side of things. I'm really bad at that. I hate it. Like I just don't like it. I'm actually in school right now for marketing and in that I'm learning some of the business side of things.But, maybe knowing enough in the beginning would have been nice?
Anna: Are you able to do this full time? Or do you do other stuff on the side too?
Lauren: I do this full time. I just started working at Affogato West part-time... just to get out of the house. Um, and they sell my stickers thee too, so it's really fun.
Kat: Afogado West, if you're just listening, is where we hold the west village Farmer's Market on Wednesdays. The first Wednesday of every month from 4 to 7. And when we're not there it's a really bomb coffee shop. And it has a bumch of little cool artisans shops inside of it. So Lauren works at Turtle Cove Trading Company, right?
Lauren: Yep, umhmm.
Kat: Which is an artisan and high-end vintage shop. It's really cool.
Anna: And if you go Afogado West, you can bring your reusable cups and they'll fill them up for you.
Getting Out of a Creative Block
So what motivates you and inspires you?
Kat: Just especially with art. What motivates you with art? Because you know, as an artist, do you ever suffer from creation block?
Lauren: Oh, oh, all the time.
Kat: Oh, you do?
Lauren: All the time.
Kat: You would never guess that because you're one of the most prolific creators we have at the market.
Kat: Yeah. Like every time she comes and you set up your thing, I'm like,"You have a new sticker. This is new." And you're like, "Yeah, of course". But, Like you're creating a whole new design in a matter of weeks.
Lauren: Yeah, I come out with 3 to 5 new designs a month. That's kind of my goal every month. And so, I'll filter out some older ones or keep 'em and then bring new ones in and kind of trying to always keep a cycle of stickers, so it keeps people interested.
Kat: So when you feel like you hit block, what do you do to get out of it?
Lauren: So, sometimes it's like, uh, super concentrated, so and I mean that by, I'll be in a creative flow and crank out 5 designs. I'll be in a creative flow and crank out 2. Crank out 3. And then, I'm like in a creative dead-zone for a week. Usually it's just when I'm in those kind of dead-zones , I just look on Pinterest. I kind of look at other things I like. I'll, you know, think about some other kind of creative outlet like, right now like, last week I was in kind of a rut and then I got into designing my truck platform. And so, I'll like dive into something that's, like there's A, B, C, D that I have to fill out and do 'cause it gets my brain like turned on and, uh in like a cycle,I guess, you could say.
Anna: So you don't put like a pressure on yourself? Like, "Oh, I have to create a design today. I'm gonna sit down and just do it."?
Anna: You let it com to you and let it just...
Lauren: Yeah , I don't do anything that, I tell myself to do. And that's also why I wanted to be full-time with design um, because I kind of like a more natural flow process. I can't really sit down and force myself to do things. It kind of lends me that ability to, when I'm feeling inspired for a design, I can crank it out. But that's the beauty of my process because I do everything on my iPad, I can take my iPad everywhere. And so sometimes, I'll get a design and I can do that quick little sketch on there. So even if I'm not inspired later, I could go back to that sketch and it's enough of an outline of what I need to do. It's that A,B,C,D, that I can just dive into that and get it done. So I kind of just am always writing down ideas. I'm always sketching out a quick little idea. And they look like blobs. If anyone looked at them, it'd look like a blob, but to me, it makes sense. It's like , okay yeah, the sun's gonna be there, the tree's gonna be there. It's gonna go like this, it's gonna go like that.
Anna: That's cool. It makes them feel authentic. It's like nothing in them is forced. It's all authentic, free-flowing...
Lauren: So with my stickers, it's just such an easy process. My turnaround is a week and a half. From design to when it's in my hands. I have a really low, like, cost to get a sticker. I can get my lowest quantities of 25, to test out stickers, and that's only like 20 bucks. 25 bucks for 25. So that's a low cost way for me to try out a design and say ok, "Does this work?" Ok, if not, it's $25 dollars. I'm not gonna cry myself to sleep over it. But, where as with prints or I tried pins once, I have to spend like $300 dollars to get a hundred... I'm not committing to a hundred of these. And spending $300 dollars... Just to get one. My stickers are such a quick turnaround. It's really hard to branch off from that. I've tried a few different ways, cause I thought people wanted other things and so I like tried to do what other people wanted then I thought, " Nope. Don't care. Stickers work. They're great". They work for me and my like, it's just I can make a design and it doesn't really impact my decision making because I can say "Eh, it's not a great design but oh, I'll try it tho. Maybe someone will like it and it will work. I've had a few designs become popular that way, where I'm like, "I hate that design. Like, I don't like it. I hate how it looks." But I get it printed to kind of see...cause that's also something I'll do if I'm in a rut, if I'm like kind of not feeling the flow, I'll go back to old designs.
Kat: I'm just bringing this up for people that are listening and maybe haven't been to the market or are from far away, like when you come, you set up this cute, you have probably 40-50 stickers right?
Lauren: Yeah, I've got around, like 50 to 60.
Kat: Yeah ok that's the part, when I look at your stuff, I'm like, "This is overwhelming cause they're always so...Every single one of them is good. And I'm just like, "Wow." You know? She's just like prolific and she's always making. And I think of some of the artists I know that take so much time and that's their style and you know their different types, but I was translating it to you and how prolific you are and I don't understand how she does that. But now you're telling me it's pretty quick.
Lauren: Yeah. (laughing) Yeah. And I mean I guess. But part of the quickness could be just the skills I've learned.
Kat: It's taken you 5 years to get here.
Lauren: Yeah, you know, I've learned tricks and tips and things along the way to make it be this quick.
Kat: Have you heard of the story of this guy who runs into Picasso at a bar and asks him to draw him a picture on the napkin? And Picasso just busts this picture out in like 5 minutes and gives it to the guy. And he's like, "That'll be $10,000 dollars." or something like $5,000 dollars. And the guy is like, "It took you like 5 minutes." And he goes, " Yeah, but it's taken me a entire lifetime to...
Anna: To get that good.
Kat: to be Picasso.
Kat: Yeah, like he, it was like, it might take me 5 minutes but it's taken me my whole life to get here. And I was like, "Don't agree with half the things you did in your life but that's a good quote."
Lauren: I actually think of that quote often because it's just true to like the artist's struggle, I guess you could say...Because it's a real thing that no one really ever wants to pay the right price for an artist and so, you know, someone spends 200 hours doing this beautiful painting and then they price it at,okay, 2 grand, that's making $10 bucks an hour. And someone's like," Ugh! No!" But it's like, I spent 200 hours painting that! Like, and I'm gonna like make almost minimum wage. You know? Painting is very exhausting work. That's why I try not to do it for too long. My back starts to hurt 'cause I like paint in a horrible position and I'm like hunched over and...
Anna: Well and I think about, I mean it takes what, like 10,000 hours before you're an expert on something, right? So I think about that. Like that's a lot of time. People need to be compensated. I mean, they might be able to do something, like you said, in 5 minutes, but it took them 10,000 hours to become an expert at that one thing.
Kat: It's just really interesting that that applies, that concept, that lack of understanding, applies to art and food. Everything else, we get it. Like I will pay $700 an hour for the best lawyer if I'm going into this case because they have the experience and stuff but it's a really hard to get people to understand, to pay for food. Like the people that are doing it right and putting in the hours and growing the most amazing food and art. It seems like those two things people feel entitled to.
Lauren: Yeah, because they feel like it's almost like it's easy
Kat: Or it's common knowledge or something
Anna: I think that might be like a shift in how we think about consuming too, 'cause back in the '60's you would spend 10% of your income on clothing a year. That's a lot. We spend like 3.5% now and then on food it was 20%! And now it's 9%! Think about how much you could have allocated to healthy, local, food, if you put 20% of your income towards it. That's a lot of money. And 10% towards clothing, or 10% towards household goods and art. And people used to do that.
Kat: Yeah, but they were also like, "This is my investment, this is what I'm keeping. Like my grandma has the same wedding set that she got when she was married.
Anna: Right. It's not that throw-away culture, where you just get something new. Like, people bought things that lasted. An average person would have 30 items in their closet- shoes, purses, dresses, everything was like 30 items. So you would want high-quality stuff to last.
Lauren: Where now it's the fast fashion, it's fast food, fast.... Everything is like on this accelerated pace.. And so that also, I think, it makes it even harder for art. You know, I did like an 8 foot chalkboard once.. and the person wanted to pay me like $50 bucks. And I was like, "This took me like 12 hours to do."
Kat: And I think it also speaks to this indentured servitude that everybody on some level is accepting and nobody is questioning. You can get these shirts because children are making them. You can get these clothes because a family is enslaved in a factory making these things. So when you're here and you're buying local, like, free people are making your clothes and making this stuff. You are paying a living wage and if you have a problem with that then I think that as a society we need to look at that and address that.
Anna: Yeah. Well I think that's the "out of sight, out of mind". People don't know. Like people don't even think that's a thing. But I think that's another thing-people used to make their own clothes, they used to grow their own food. They knew the work that went into it. I just don't think that people have that appreciation 'cause they don't have to do anything anymore.
Lauren: Our lives are so easy. Like, so ridiculously easy. We've become detached from like our consuming...
Kat: Or the work. The work behind it. And so, it's a big issue in the agricultural world too because there are so many undocumented workers that are willing to work in the field and that's the only they can keep the cost of the food down.
Anna: Right. About 75% of agricultural workers are undocumented and their average age is 55. So that tells you how much of an impact that has on their health. That's a lot.
Learning From Failures and Successes
Kat: What's something that you failed at on the way? And, uh, what did you learn from it? 'Cause it actually doesn't sound like you've failed at a lot. (laughing)
Lauren: I have failed plenty!
Kat: 'Cause it's been a pretty consistent upward rise for you...(laughing)
Lauren: I would say, the other side ventures of doing pins or doing prints, like, those are kinda failures. And those took a hit on money I could have spent for more sticker inventory but instead spent it on trying to please other people you might say....
Kat: Yeah, I was gonna ask, did you do those things because other people were like... You should do this.
Lauren: Totally totally. And then no one ever buys them. So everyone is saying,"You should do this and you should this and then I do it and then no one buys it.
Kat: So your biggest failure is listening to other people?
Lauren: Yeah. 100%
Kat: Ugh, isn't that always how it goes?
Lauren: Yeah and just, you know and accepting that I've got a good thing with stickers. You know? I used to, I still sometimes get intimidated when I go to like, um, bigger markets and they've got these big set-ups, they've got so many different products, you know? They've got all this stuff and I show up, plop my table, my set-up is so simple. Like, so insanely simple and it's just stickers. And sometimes I get intimidated, like, "Oh man. This market's gonna be a bust. Like, I get all in my head and I'm like, "Oh this is gonna suck" and then you know, the market opens and then it's just, I'm killin' it, right? And it's just like, "people love stickers". And so, my biggest failure would be to, uh, that I had to, in a roundabout way, learn to trust my own intuition and my own needs for my business. Stop listening to everyone else.
Kat: Do you think that would be your advice to young up-and-coming artists who are...if I was a beginning artist, what would you say?
Lauren: To trust your gut. Do what you want to do. Don't do what anyone else tells you what you ought to do because, yeah, that's where my biggest mistakes were. Was listening to what someone else told me I needed to do. I've had people tell me I needed to do certain markets. I had bad feeling about it and I did that market. It was a bad market. It wasn't my vibe, but all the markets I've wanted to do, that I've thought about and really like looked into, it's just perfect. It always works out.
Anna: What would you say has been your biggest success and what did you learn from it? I guess you've already answered that with just sticking with stickers but is there anything else?
Lauren: Yeah. I guess my successes have just been compounding (laughing). I don't want to sound like full of myself. But just kind of like as I've had a success, it's been built to another success and another success. At first my biggest success, I would have told you was that I sold a sticker. And now it's that I've sold thousands and thousands of stickers all over the world. I have stickers all over. I did a custom design for Girl Scouts of San Diego.
Anna: Oh, that's awesome! Well and also I think people like to come back for the high-quality items. Would you mind telling us about the quality of your stickers?
Lauren: They are all high-quality vinyl stickers. Indoor/outdoor use. Um, they have a matte finish on them so, I've actually found that the matte finish helps to keep them from deteriorating. I think the glossy finish, that glossy film starts to peel off... And so, when they're matte like this, they really just stay and um, you know like the sun isn't like glaring on them and burning them as much. So these are yeah, like sun-fade resistant. They won't fade. Dishwasher safe. Indoor/outdoor use, cars, water bottles, kayaks... Helmets, ice chests, snowboards, like they can take a beating. They were like Alaska tested, right? They were like Alaska proofed. They've outlasted snow, rain for constant, days on end...
Kat: So you've been all over. You're a nomad. So in your opinion what makes Utah so special?
Lauren: Uh, The one thing I've always loved about Utah is that you could drive for 8 hours and encounter like 10 different sceneries. So, I grew up coming to Utah lots and I just always loved that like change in scenery that's just like so fast like, all of a sudden you're in the forest. And then you're all of a sudden you're around these tall red mountains, or you're in the desert. It just changes so fast and so, there's just such a vast scenery here, it kind of covers all your bases in one state. (laughs)
Anna: So what's been your favorite part about being in the Farmer's Market community?
Lauren: Oh, it's been super fun for me to like just get into like St. George community, you know? Like living here and just, it was way different than what I thought Utah was. Like, I just didn't expect to like meet so many cool people In Utah. It was actually just really easy. You know, I started doing the Farmer's Market and just like instantly, like everyone was so welcoming and nice and it's like spawned already so many opportunities just since December.
Kat: I love it. That's what I love about the Farmer's Market community. It's not who we serve, it's what we build.
Anna/Lauren: Oooh. (laughing)
Anna: Do you have a favorite book publication or social media account that you find inspirational or profound?
Lauren: Basically, like I try to follow, as far as social media accounts go, accounts that are like positive. So anything that's like positivity, you know? 'Cause I think people can say that social media is so bad and it's horrible but it's all about the accounts you follow. And I like only follow uplifting accounts. If ever I follow and they make me feel a negative feeling, I unfollow them. If there's something about the account, whether it's me comparing myself to someone, like I'll unfollow artists for that. Nothing personal, but it's, I find myself comparing myself to your art too much and I need to focus on my own art, so I actually don't really follow really any artists. Cause I don't like to compare myself to other artists. I'd rather, cause it's so easy to fall into a hole of comparing yourself to artists. I just can sometimes fall victim of the compare game. A book I read that was really like life-changing for me was Jill Bolte Taylor's book, uh, I'm drawing a blank on the name but she's a brain scientist who had a stroke in the left side of her brain and she was able to recall the whole stroke as it was happening. And then recalled in detail of like the numbers starting to disappear and look like squiggly lines and trying to match squiggly lines to a squiggly line on a business card so she can call someone to say she needed help. But because of her knowledge as a brain scientist, she was able to like really dissect a stroke in a really interesting way. And she was young- she was in her 30's, and she had, because her ,um, left side of her brain had the stroke, her right brain became like lit up in use. And she talks about like being expansive and when she was in a coma, how she could look down at her body , I think a coma, but she would like look down at her body. It used to be, "how can my body be in the expanses of the universe"? and then she realized she was the expanse of the universe trying to fit into a body. And like just that switch of like your right brain is so open and free and that left brain is what like, the left brain's important, ego is important. She did a Ted Talk and then she has a book and it was just like 1 book that I've read multiple times. I've watched her Ted Talk multiple times, um, I think she's a genius and it's really cool how she just describes the difference between right brain and left brain and how before she was this boring brain scientist, her life was black and white, and then since having her stroke, she says she has purple walls in her house. Everything is colorful. She's relearned that scientist skill and language and can now bring this new open concept to science. It's fascinating. She's amazing. I will say quickly that I, I once describe art as everything. So people can like say, "I'm not creative" or "I wish I was creative like you." But it's like an accountant is creative, um, farmers are creative. Everyone's creative in a different way and art is expressed in a million different ways. Art is just self-expression. So however you self-express yourself in this world, that is your art. And so "black and white" people, they're creative, they're artistic. Just as much as colorful people.
Kat: So why should people buy local food and support local farmers and makers?
Lauren: Because we're the little guys. Each sticker I sell is, it's going to my life. Like it's buying me groceries. It's putting gas in my truck. It's funding my own dream. Where as when you buy from like big box stores, you're just making someone who's a billionaire, just like more of a billionaire, you know? Where as, for me, it's like, it's all in like my own world. And it's from the support of other people. When you shop local, shop small, that's who you're supporting. And that's all we need in life ...is little people to all be supported.
Anna: If listeners want to learn more about all you're doing, how can they find you? And where can they find your stickers?
Lauren: So, you can find me, uh, on Instagram @thedoodlingnomad and just online. www.thedoodlingnomad.com I'm at the Farmer's Market, oh and then I have a Patreon, which is where my sticker subscription club is, and so I announce the stickers for the month around this time, like I just got them in today, so I'll be announcing that in the next few days. Um, and like the exclusive sticker and what it all is and that's just real quickly set up in 2 sections..I have a $3 dollar a month and that gets you just the exclusive sticker for the sticker club and then I have an $8 dollars a month and that gets you 3 new stickers plus the exclusive. Yeah so you're getting 4 sticker for $8, which my deal at market is 3 for $10 so it's a better deal, plus you're getting the exclusive and so that's on my Patreon and you can find it at patreon.com/thedoodlingnomad.
Anna: And then are you gonna be at the Farmer's Markets in the summer too? You go every week? Is that what you're planning on doing?
Lauren: Yeah, yeah. So this will be my first summer doing them here.
Anna: Well, awesome. Well, thank you so much for talking with us today. It was fun getting to know your story.
Lauren: Yeah! Thank you! It was fun.
Kat: Thank you. Yeah
Music for this episode was created by southern Utah local Jake Shepherd