|Times Square by Veronica Lawlor|
Lawlor’s romantically inclined reportage illustrations have led her around the
world, completing assignments for a diverse group of clients, including Brooks
Brothers, the 3M Corporation and the Hyatt hotel chain. Her emotionally charged drawings of the 9/11 attack on New York City are featured in the Newseum in
Washington DC, and were exhibited at the NYC Fire Museum in 2006.
Prix, and her work was presented at the Louvre, in Paris. Veronica has written
and illustrated several books and is on the illustration faculty of Parsons the
New School for Design and Pratt Institute. She is the co-founder of the Dalvero Academy, an Urban Sketchers correspondent, and the president of the Studio 1482 illustration and design collective.
I know that
you were born in New York City — where did you grow up and what was that like?
elementary school years in a community called Parkchester, in the Bronx. I had
so many friends in the neighborhood; each building had dozens of kids my age! I
have some classic memories of growing up in New York City – moms throwing money
out of apartment windows for ice cream when the Good Humor truck came by,
roller skating and having my own skate key, all of us hollering up at the
building to our moms to come down and get us (since we weren’t allowed to take
the elevator by ourselves), and jumping around in the spray from a fire hydrant
when the weather got too warm. NYC summers can really heat up.
suburban Long Island when I was 10 years old, and although it was a beautiful
town, I never really got over missing urban life. Once I was old enough to move
from my parents’ home, I came back to NYC. I have lived in Manhattan, the
Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, and each borough has its own charms. Never tried
Staten Island, but I hear good things. 😉
get your start as an artist?
draw. As a child, drawing was a way for me to connect with my friends – we
would do it together. I remember in the second grade, making up fake gossip
papers with my best friend – we would create the stories about celebrities at Studio 54 and design and illustrate the magazines. Too bad Andy Warhol didn’t
know about us back then!
guess my more focused desire to be an artist came about in high school, when I
decided to make it my life path. A partial scholarship to Parsons School of
Design helped me to make my dream of being a young art student in Greenwich
Village come true, and the teachers I met there continued to help and mentor me
– especially one teacher named David Passalacqua. But my love of drawing as a
way to communicate was there from the beginning.
unique drawing style. How did you develop it?
practice, and drawing on location, went into developing my personality in
drawing. There is that famous saying about how 10,000 hours creates an expert –
I would agree! I remember my teacher told me that if I wanted to draw hands, I
had to draw 10,000 of them before I would even come close to understanding
them. He was right.
look for a unique style, but the truth is that your style develops over time,
by making art, by looking at art, and by living with your failures as well as
your successes. It’s an evolution that doesn’t happen overnight, but produces
the most unique and honest artist.
|Grand Central Station|
matter do you enjoy sketching the most and why?
adrenaline and excitement from that. If things are moving quickly, I have to
rely totally on instinct, as there is no time for pre-conceived ideas or
pictures. And I love to see what comes of it! When I am drawing at an event, I
become a part of it – people see your contribution right there on the spot and
often will ‘adopt’ you as part of the action. It’s the best. I think growing up
in New York City made me addicted to a certain kind of high energy, and drawing
things that are fast-paced feed that addiction.
you usually work in and which do you prefer?
a new graphic feeling and sensation. The experiment is always enjoyable. I
guess on location I often gravitate toward pen and ink, with watercolor and
pastel chalks – these are faster mediums than something like oil, and so feel
more suited to the spontaneity I often look for in my location drawings.
finished writing a book about watercolor called One Watercolor A Day, which features my own art and the other
artists from Studio 1482. It was so much fun to play with watercolor in a
slower way as well, and see the possibilities it offers.
|The Empire State Building|
your favorite project in your career so far?
that it’s hard to choose. Drawing Central Park for the Mandarin Oriental hotel
was like a dream – spending a week in early autumn making drawings in my
favorite park – that was really magical. I also did a cross-country tour doing
drawings of American icons for Brooks Brothers, which was fantastic, as it
combined my love of drawing with my love of travel. I could keep going, I feel
that I’ve been so lucky to receive commissions that have been both interesting
studied with our mentor, the late illustrator, David J. Passalacqua. He taught
us a philosophy of illustration with a fine arts oriented viewpoint, and we
developed through hours of discovery, studying location drawing and painting,
and research and communication, with him.
team at Studio 1482 collaborated on the book, One Drawing a Day. Can you tell me a little bit about the book and
the purpose of it?
really expresses our philosophy of art as a very personal experience, best
learned through doing it yourself, trial and error, with guidance, as opposed
to being shown how to do it. Art instruction can sometimes become a confining
experience, with so much emphasis on ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of drawing, which
is the exact opposite of the way we were taught. We learned by working through
all the drawings – good and bad – one at a time.
|The East Village|
play and experiment, without sacrificing our professionalism or ability to
complete an illustration assignment. The open nature of the blog gives us
permission to try things that may not
work, and show them to each other and the world for feedback. You have to be
open to the idea that you don’t know how something will turn out, to find the
new and unusual solutions in your own work.
With the One Drawing A Day book, examples of our own work are offered up as
a point of departure for others, as a suggestion of something to try. The book
creates an experiential and open kind of art instruction, as opposed to a
step-by-step kind of instruction with a specific goal. And we like that idea so
much that we have a new book coming out in December with a similar philosophy – One Watercolor A Day.
has been the biggest influence on you and your work?
earliest heroes in art have had the biggest influence on me: Toulouse-Lautrec
and Daumier for their energy and honesty, Matisse and Picasso for design, Hans
Hofmann and the abstract expressionists for passion, Antonio Lopez for style, and traditional Japanese arts for pattern and taste. That’s just the tip of the
iceberg; I believe it’s so important to be influenced by art history, photography, film, culture, design approaches, and what’s happening now. You need to keep
studying to keep yourself moving forward as an artist, otherwise the well can
|The Brooklyn Bridge|
In addition to
your work, you also teach at Pratt and Parsons. What type of classes do you
teach and how has teaching affected your art?
storytelling, animation/animatics, and location drawing, at both schools. And
of course, living life as an artist, in many different ways, is an ongoing
topic of class discussions.
Teaching has affected my art big time, since I feel a sense of
responsibility to my students to work hard and be honest in my artistic
expression. Practice what you preach, as the saying goes.
up-and-coming artists in New York?
true to yourself, and be curious. Follow your heart and do what you love. Focus
more on the process than on the desired result, and you’ll enjoy your artistic
York projects on the horizon?
neighborhoods with both drawing and video. This is an ongoing project that hasn’t
fully blossomed yet, but I am excited about where it may go.
York City – it’s been a long love affair. My hope is that the drawings may be
of interest to the other NYC lovers out there.
idea of a perfect day in NYC?
cappuccino, pen, ink, watercolor, a sketchbook, my husband Neil, laughter, and
good friends. Can’t beat that.
you don’t love about living in New York?
I love it all.
diversity, energy, and personality. It is full of the hopes and dreams of
everyone who comes here to fulfill them. I was lucky enough to be born here and
I can’t see myself ever leaving. I love to travel, but I always find a little
piece of what I discovered in my travels exists right here in my hometown. No
place like New York City, and I will always click my heels, like Dorothy in the
Wizard of Oz, to get back home to my own backyard.
|Bow Bridge, Central Park|