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Welcome to the Blog - Allow me to introduce myself!

Hi everyone. I have been thinking of starting a blog here on my website for quite some time. Boy do I have a lot in store for you all!

I figure that the best way to start out this whole thing is to really introduce myself.

Hi! I'm Lauren. I'm an artist based out of Boulder, Colorado. I specialize in luxury goods but really pride myself on painting just about anything. I started professionally painting after I got out of school. I have an undergrad in Art History from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors from the University of Buckingham. When I was working on my Masters thesis in London, I discovered leather paints. Man, did I love it. I purchased an entire kit online and went to town on Christmas gifts. I painted all sorts of things for my family, including a black leather jacket for my boyfriend. He wore that jacket everywhere. I painted all sorts of characters and skate styled pieces on it in a bit of a miss-matched, collage style. No matter where he wore that jacket, he was stopped and asked where he got it. He told me dozens of times that I needed to make a business card and he would start handing them out. I kept dodging it because I had never thought of really practicing art professionally. Sure I had studied art and practiced it as a hobby, but was I really ready to do this as a job? It seemed crazy.

To put it simply - I gave in eventually and Zavala Bespoke was born! So here I am, three years later, starting out on my very own blog. It's feeling very 2006 of me, but I'm here for it. Let's start with 5 facts about me!

1. I am a complete Art History nerd. Looking at my work, it's pretty evident that I carry a lot of my knowledge of Art History with me in what I paint. I love painting in a pop art style but am most inspired by impressionism. I take my use of black lines and use of color directly from pop art inspirations like Roy Lichtenstein (my favorite), Takashi Murkami, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama and so many more. That photo is the incomporable Yayoi Kusama. Yes, she does look that cool.

2. I grew up in Houston, Texas in a mixed family (I'm half Mexican). I lived in Houston until I was nine, and absorbed a love of the color and festivity of TexMex culture. I use a lot of Mexican imagery in my work. I love Mexican folk art and artists like Frida Kahlo and am really inspired by the use of bright colors and stark contrasting color palettes. You can look through a lot of my portfolio and see that, I think.

3. I love musical theatre. Love. I've seen dozens and dozens of shows (maybe over 70ish shows. I should count them all up so I can sound informed). My favorites I've seen are Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Hello Dolly, Little Shop of Horrors, My Fair Lady, Dear Evan Hanson, and so many more. If I could see any production of any show it would be the Julie Andrews version of My Fair Lady. Ugh to go back in time. Fun fact for you: Julie Andrews was the original Eliza on the West End, but when they adapted My Fair Lady to the screen, she was replaced with Audrey Hepburn who way deemed "prettier" and able to play the part better. Andrews then got the role of Mary Poppins and won an Oscar that year for the role. I'm pretty sure there are about 10 life lessons in that story, so do more research into it if you're interested. It's pretty amazing.

4. I love to travel. I talk a lot about it on my social media platforms but that's because it's such a large part of who I am. I'm not a beach person or really a sun lover, but I love to travel to places where I can get to experience other cultures and have tons to learn from. I took a semester off before college to backpack around Europe. During that trip, I realized how much I really loved art. I went from city to city exploring any museum I could find and looking at different art and architecture. My budget was so strict, I never wanted to pay for guides so I would research each thing I was going to see and would take notes so I could read them while I was there. When I returned to the US, I enrolled in school to get an undergrad in Art History. I'm hoping my next few trips are to Mexico City, Kenya, to see the Northern Lights and to see the Mountain Gorilla's in Uganda.

Side note - I'm laughing at this picture of me at the Colosseum below. Hello over exposure in the background!

5. A lot of my job has been totally learned off the cuff. When I started, Zavala Bespoke (Zavala Customs at the time) was just a passion project. I had finished my Masters and was starting to look for a job. I had to jump right into it or else this was never going to work. I had to start by teaching myself how to make a website, start business social media pages, and learn techniques in paint that I absolutely was not used to on top of a million other little things. It was scary! Honestly it still is sometimes. As my business grows I always try and take time to help up and coming businesses who ask me questions. It's the same reason I post YouTube/tiktok videos of my process and materials, etc. I've had to ask for help (and still do sometimes!) and I am so grateful for any artists who have offered any insight to me. Social media has been a god send for things like that. I'm able to easily have a network of artists and clients who can quickly just reach out. If you run a small business of any kind, social media should be your absolute first stop.