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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Q&A with Lauren Taylor (BFA Graphic Design)

Introduce yourself and tell us where are you from originally?
Hey! I’m Lauren Taylor. I’m a senior pursuing my Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design. I’m from Denver, Colorado, and I now call Naples, Florida home, but I have roots in St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois as well.

What attracted you to the Department of Art & Art History?
When I visited Ole Miss for the first time, I was able to take a tour of the Art Department. I knew before I came to college that I wanted to study graphic design, so I was only looking at schools with graphic design programs. Ole Miss was one of the few SEC schools that had an art department, and when I visited, I really liked the small class sizes and community that was evident even from a short visit.

What type of artwork do you create?
My emphasis is graphic design, so that’s the main medium, but being in the BFA program for the past couple of years has allowed me to go outside of my comfort zone and explore different ways of creating. No matter what medium I’m creating in, my style is characterized by the intersection of precision and playfulness. I pride myself on a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail, while drawing the viewer in with the whimsy and playfulness of my work.

Something I’ve always enjoyed is combining fine art and crafting elements, and experimenting with the intersection of print and digital design, which is what inspired my thesis. As a result, I’ve created a book called Ipseity that combines many handmade and digital design processes.

Could you explain your process?
I’ll brainstorm as I go throughout my day/week, sketching and taking notes as I go. Then, once I have things planned out, I’ll jump into the first steps of creating. My favorite aspect of design is problem-solving, which is inevitable throughout the process of resting, but is what makes the act of creating so rewarding. As I’ve studied and created art the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with the process of creating even more so than the end product.

That being said, my thesis project, Ipseity, is very process-based. I gathered and curated content for the book, designed and illustrated it all digitally; I then digitally and letterpress printed the content. To add some handmade touches, I hand-sewed the binding, added custom die cuts, and elements of gold foiling.

Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
Some currently practicing graphic designers that I am inspired by are Lauren Hom and Joshua Noom. Lauren Hom creates work that utilizes energetic color palettes and whimsical hand-lettering to create designs that often include quirky sayings. Most notable and inspiring to me is her series of typography, created out of food such as cookies, soup, flour, or even juice. Joshua Noom is a Southwest Floridian designer who makes really interesting, vibrant illustrations and has a very specific illustrative style. As someone who gravitates more to typography and layouts, his illustrations inspire me to branch out of my comfort zone and explore illustration more. As far as historical artists, Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser are, of course, very inspirational to me and many other artists. Chwast’s designs were integral to the development of contemporary graphic design from the 1960s until now, and I appreciate his quirky, playful illustration style and use of mixed media. As far as Milton Glaser, how could I not include one of the “Fathers of Graphic Design”?! Glaser’s work is some of the most influential in Graphic Design history and I specifically admire his use of color (among many other things).

Which professors inspired you the most?
There are so many professors in the Art & Art History department that I have thoroughly enjoyed having, but I have to give a special shout-out to Tyler Barnes and Lauren Cardenas. I’ve had the privilege of taking multiple classes under each of them, and they have truly been so helpful and inspirational to me throughout my time at Ole Miss. Mr. Barnes has been instrumental in teaching me the ins and outs of graphic design and has challenged me in his classes in order to push me to become the designer I am today. He is always willing to answer my endless questions about design and using the Adobe programs. His experience and wisdom as a professional, practicing designer himself has helped propel me into my own freelance career in college, something that would have been a lot more difficult without his help. Lauren Cardenas has also inspired me during my time in the Art department and has been an immense help in the process of creating a book for my thesis. She, too, is always willing to answer any questions I may have and will go out of her way to help if needed. Her knowledge as a printmaker and bookmaker has helped me expand my skills into those media, encouraging me to integrate them into my design work as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to be under the guidance of Mr. Barnes and Lauren during my time in the department, and I am so grateful for their influence on my development as an artist!

What has been your favorite class during your years here?
It’s a toss-up between Production Design and Packaging Design with Mr. Barnes. Both of those classes really pushed me to explore different areas of design, such as publications, packaging, advertisements, and logos and brand identities. The projects are similar to real-world work I might encounter at a position at a design agency or freelancing, which was incredibly valuable for me to see what kind of work might come with a career in graphic design. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to design lots of different things, like a book cover for The Help by Kathryn Stockett, a mock ad campaign for the Container Store, and packaging for my own brand idea, Placencia Pops.

Could you describe a favorite memory here in the department?
I don’t know that I can choose just one favorite memory in the department, but when I look back at my past few years here, I see a collection of small moments that I’ll remember fondly now and into the future. Things like joking around with my classmates in the printmaking studio, late nights in the ceramics studio, and conversations with my peers and professors ranging from fun, lighthearted topics to deep, meaningful topics.

Are you a part of any clubs or groups here on campus?
I’m on the executive board for GRID, Ole Miss’ Graphic Design club, the leadership team for the Ole Miss chapter of Delight Ministries, a Christian community for college women, and a graphic designer for The Ole Miss yearbook.

What does the Department of Art & Art History mean to you?
To me, the Department of Art & Art History is a community of diverse, yet like-minded people. Each individual, whether a student or faculty member, brings their own unique perspective to life and art that makes the department the great community that it is. It means being able to walk down the hallway, seeing familiar, smiling faces and saying hi, and creating and collaborating alongside a group of extremely talented individuals.

Do you have any advice for incoming art students?
Ask so many questions! Don’t be afraid to be that one student that always has their hand raised– you will learn so much if you let your curiosity get the best of you! Work hard, but have fun. Your professors have so much wisdom on art, of course, but also about life as a creative person and pursuing a career in art. The Art & Art History department offers so many unique opportunities to explore media and processes that you may not get the opportunity to explore again, so take as many classes that interest you as you can. Finally, make friends with upperclassmen who can give you advice as you go on your journey to earn your degree.

What type of music do you listen to while you create art?
My music taste is all over the place, and what I listen to when I create usually depends on my mood. But, my go-to playlist is an amalgamation of all of my playlists, and it has songs from any genre, from Christian/worship to classic rock, to rap, to indie. It’s over 200 hours long so I always have something to listen to when I’m working on projects!

What are you binge-watching while being a couch potato?
Being in my thesis semester, I haven’t had a lot of time to watch tv, but New Girl is my go-to show that I’ll put on when I need a pick me up! It always has me laughing out loud no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

Do you have any hobbies outside of the art department?
Yes! I love DIY projects and crafting, spending time outside, boxing, and reading.

Do you have any other interests?
Deep conversations, the beach, listening to music, spending time with friends and family, cheering on the Rebels football team, and reading are some of my favorite things. I strive to bring glory to God through being kind, working hard, and using my talents to bring joy & light to the people around me.

What is your favorite thing about Oxford or the University?
I love that Oxford has so many unique, yummy restaurants. I definitely would consider myself a foodie and this town is the place to be if you’re looking for good food!

What is your favorite restaurant in Oxford?
My favorite restaurant in Oxford is definitely South Depot. They have the best chips and salsa!

Can we find you on social media?
Yes, on Instagram! My personal account is @lauren.a.taylor and my art account is @artbylat.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
As of now, I’m looking for opportunities at a design agency or as an in-house designer in Florida. But I’m applying to jobs all over and I’m open to adventure! I’d love to work in the stationery industry or in branding and logo design.