Lauren’s VIRTUE

When you’re a creative it’s always good to have multiple creative skills. This is exactly what the multi talented Lauren Thomas has done with her life. She’s an artist of multiple mediums, a model, and a photographer. Her most recent endeavour has been the creation of her own magazine – a concept that began as a project for one of her classes initially but blossomed into a whole thing. I hit her up to discuss the magazine, her other creative pursuits and how she balances it all.

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As I previously stated, Lauren is a renaissance woman in her own right. She’s got pieces in the worlds of photography, illustration, and painting but says “I’d honestly have to choose photography as my favorite. Photography for me has such a strong impact for me (personally), and it’s the way that I can fully express myself as an artist. It’s also my favorite way to express what I want through my work. The process is also EXTREMELY rewarding. After all the setting up, picking compositions and angles, editing, etc, I always feel so proud of what comes out and what I’ve done. I’m the happiest doing it.” This love for photography is perhaps the most important aspect of the magazine as it is a very visual based experience for the reader. Lauren stated that the photoshoot for the magazine has actually been her favorite so far as it was “huge”. “Being able to photograph so many Black people at a time in so many different fits they put together themselves was a really fun experience.” It’s always worth celebrating when someone can excel behind the camera as well as in front of it and then is exactly what Lauren does. 

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Denver Dukes – photographed by Lauren.

In the Cinematic Universe of Black Creatives you’re bound to come across a few magazines. These magazines no matter how they’re executed often carry at least one shared theme: Black Excellence. Lauren’s magazine VIRTUE is no different and the name has a purpose much larger than it sounding cool. First, “virtue is defined as “behavior showing high moral standards”. She chose to title the magazine this “because VIRTUE’s focus is on the black (American) community, I thought it would be fitting. We as Black people are always considered to be making the wrong decisions whether that be through what we do, or the things we decide to wear, just because it’s different. My goal is to show that our culture is not the bottom of the barrel, and that it is in fact extremely beautiful.” It’s always a win for us when we are able to grace the cover of these multi million magazine corporations. And it’s even better when the cover story is done by a black journalist too. But when we literally create the magazine ourselves and showcase ourselves there’s nor room for an L. The magazine itself originally was actually a project Lauren had to do for her Photography Final (Exam). She described the process as “Very very stressful. but the best kind of stressful.” The process involved the “designing and editing that has to go into it, along with making sure the copies come out correctly as well as selecting the “names and photo ideas to actually designing the cover, layouts, and getting it officially made.” Since it was so involved she has decided to continue creating future issues on a regular basis. Out of all her projects this has been her most involved so far and in her eyes her most rewarding too. 

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Our Blackness is the focus of VIRTUE.

Like most black creatives Lauren takes her creative expression into everything she does including her clothes. If you follow her on Instagram you’re going to see her Outfit of the Day on her Story pretty much everyday. And these outfits are never just house clothes. She says her style has gone from “sporty, to super colorful, to wearing whatever I want to, but now I feel like it’s a very specific style that I can’t really name. Simple, but also not? I’m super into New York fashion…” She also cites her main fashion inspirations as “@koleendz and @wuzg00d on Instagram, Virgil Abloh, and my boyfriend who’s grown up in New York and is also extremely into fashion.” However, she has other inspirations when it comes to her work specifically and while it may seem unconventional to some, in the world of art it is practically commonplace. “My inspiration can come from absolutely ANYTHING. I can look at a box of cereal long enough and come up with a huge project idea that may OR may not have anything to do with the cereal. The idea can just come from the color scheme of the box.” 

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Pages from VIRTUE.

Having multiple creative lanes means having multiple obligations.This also comes with having multiple clients and some understand the concept that they are not the only client much better than others. Plus – as an artist she has projects she just wants to do for her own personal enjoyment too and as a student she has assignments that have a due date too. But – she manages to handle it all! “A lot of the time, I manage to fit my ideas within the project assignments (make things happen no matter what) just so I still have fun and do what I want while also having time for commissions. Now that I have the magazine to manage though, my regular commissions are closed until I get a really good grasp on things” Despite all this she is still open to collaborations though! 

Lauren has a diverse music palette naturally and says “I never have just one set person or two, but the people I listen to at the moment are Ari Lennox, Lucky Daye, Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator, Summer Walker, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby.” She also hopes to create a piece for Frank Ocean one day. With the type of talent she has it’s only a matter of time. 

Lauren says her number one goal as an artist is “…to be known for what I do. Not necessarily a celebrity, but just to be well known. I want to be a black female artist whose work shows up on huge banners and becomes an inspiration to the black community. I want to have the ability to create opportunities for other Black artists that don’t get the spotlight they deserve. I just want people to see that black girls got the juice too.”

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VIRTUEous Skies.

You can see all of Lauren’s art on her Instagram @yell.l0 and order your own copy of VIRTUE here right NOW! You can also follow the Instagram for the magazine: @virtuemagazinenow 

 

Photography, Art, And The Future Generation With Ryder

Someone who has the power to capture time. Photography is forever..for generations.” This is how Ryder describes what a photographer is to her. Atlanta based photographer, Ryder, is a unique and fresh creator behind the lens. With her film photography and perfect concert photos, Ryder’s lens is one that Atlanta knows very well. 

Getting her start in 2014, Ryder picked up her own camera while she was a junior in high school. “That was the time I stated to do photography, I was inspired by Tumblr and just looking at other people’s photography but it was nothing serious. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I moved to Atlanta and that was in 2017.” As someone who loves movies, Ryder is most inspired by colors and emotions. “I would say colors inspire me, emotions inspire me and movies. I’m really big on movies. Especially 80s movies.”

Photos can evoke emotions too. People live on forever in photographs. If someone took a photograph of me right now and I died tomorrow, I would still live on forever”, Ryder when asked more about photography’s impact. From history about photography  she talked about how back in the day, it was difficult to film and photograph black people — especially in black and white. It was only when people wanted to photograph things like furniture and other objects that had color that lenses were created to capture darker shades/tones. 

Do you feel it’s something anyone can do? “Absolutely, everyone’s a photographer. Especially when it comes to smartphones nowadays, I feel like anyone can take a photo. I feel like what separates someone is their eye, their own vision. But, anyone can do it.” So what does the future hold for Ryder? What advice would she give the future generation? Her ultimate goal? “That one is to take photographs of our generation now so that future generations can see them and be inspired and see how lit we were. For the next generation, learn your camera and know your camera. Love yourself in advance and put the work in now. Do your research. It’s okay to be inspired by others but you shouldn’t copy them. You have to get your own.”

Ryder’s Andy Warhol recreation with @Buggsview

With her notable work with Cam Kirk Studios, Nike, and her Andy Warhol inspired project, Ryder is a force to be reckoned with. Her unique eye for art, how she studies her craft, and is able to capture her vision for us to see.