“This series has given me so much, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me from here!” – Lauren Barger
Charlotte artist Lauren Barger has dreamt of being an illustrator as long as she can remember. But, when she arrived, at age 19, at Herron School of Art and Design with the intention of earning a degree in fine art with a focus in illustration, she hit a wall. She wasn’t convinced she could make a living pursuing her creative dream. So, after one year, she left.
After graduating from college with a degree focused on Spanish literature and linguistics, she embarked on a successful career as an immigration paralegal and translator in Washington, D.C.
But, she never gave up on her love of art, creating work for family and friends.
After moving to Charlotte and having a baby in 2018, Barger decided the time for her art to take center stage had come. She began creating custom portraits in traditional art mediums – watercolor and colored pencil. Eventually, learned to make digital art. She soon accepted the moniker of “Butt Lady of Charlotte” when she created 32 watercolor prints in her “Animal Butt” series.
But, it was her next idea – “Coffeedraws” – that proved to Barger once and for all that she was born to do this. We caught up with her to learn more about it.
Where did your love of illustration start?
I have been making art since I could pick up a crayon! I used to bring home schoolwork and exams to show my parents and the backs of all the papers were covered in drawings.
Some artists may say that art is just a creative outlet, or that they just happen to be good at it – so they do it. But I make art because I like to look at art. If I had no ability to draw, I would still be looking at art and enjoying it in my free time. It’s an added bonus I get to make it for myself – and now everyone else!
How did you develop your talent? What do you do to pay the bills?
In 2018, I had a baby and my husband and I moved to Charlotte. I left my job in immigration and decided to return to my original passion! I opened LB Fine Art in 2019, producing mostly portrait artwork on commission. I worked in traditional art mediums like watercolor and colored pencil, but soon started learning to paint digitally.
When did “Coffeedraws” start?
More recently I have been getting attention for my social media series called “Coffeedraws!” – a lottery-like giveaway that I run.[It] started in February. I decided to close my commissions for six months to work on growing my business. I realized that I had about two hours of “free time” in the morning that felt wasted. And so, “Coffeedraws” was born!
My goal was to build up a following on my social media platforms. And, it worked! I select one of my followers to draw digitally while I drink my coffee. To date, I have completed over 170 “Coffeedraws” and have gained over 25,000 followers between TikTok and Instagram.
After I completed 100 consecutive days of “Coffeedraws,” I took three days off, and added a theme for May – “MerMay.” Throughout the month, I turned my followers into mermaids! This is a globally recognized drawing prompt that was started by a Disney animator named Tom Bancroft (creator of Mushu from Mulan).
Bancroft and the other judges of “MerMay,” including Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid) noticed me! He interviewed me for a sponsored segment called “Tail Talk Tuesday,” and it was the highlight of my year.
After “MerMay,” the theme for pride month (June) was “Love is Love.” The goal was to highlight and find joy in all different types of love. Every day was such a joy and, personally, I couldn’t wait to see who commented each day! WCNC caught wind of “”Coffeedraws”” and highlighted me.
This series has given me so much, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me from here.
What have you learned about yourself and/or your art through “Coffeedraws”?
Before “Coffeedraws,” I did not consider myself to be social media savvy. Now as I’m nearing 200 days doing it, I feel like a professional. (Haha!)
I would categorize my drawing ability and growth into three stages:
The first 100 drawings were tough. The time constraint forced me to make quick drawing decisions that may not have been up to my standard, but I had to accept them and keep moving. I think my technical drawing skills really improved during this stage.
In May, I really started making work that I felt was up to my high standards. Some of those prints are even hanging up in my studio!
And finally, during June, I felt confident enough to start playing with stylization and new rendering techniques. My style and ability have grown exponentially from “Coffeedraws.” I owe it so much.
What do you think of Charlotte’s creative community?
I am blown away by all of the talented artists and local makers in this area. I am lucky enough to have befriended many. I am proud to be a member of this community and hope to contribute to its growth as much as possible.
Work with Lauren
Lauren is closed for commissions at the moment, and her website is under construction. You can follow her and enjoy “Coffeedraws” at @lb.fine.art on Instagram. Her “animal butts” and other art prints are available for purchase on Etsy.
She is available for hire by book publishers, art agencies and animation studios at LB.Fine.Art22@gmail.com
Watch Lauren in Action
View this post on Instagram
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