Ever dreamed of quitting your corporate job and following your passion? Well, Lauren Baker did just that and hasn't looked back since. This is pretty inspirational stuff...
Lauren Baker is a skull artist and has worked with the likes of Jimmy Choo and Harrods and has exhibited at Tate Britain as well as London Fashion Week. We spoke to her about changing careers, feeling terrified while doing so and her dreams of working with Alexander McQueen.
How did you become an artist?
I used to have a corporate job and I felt unfulfilled so I embarked on an adventure to South America in search of more meaning. In Brazil I stumbled upon a street art project and I made mosaics in the street with a mission to make passersby smile. Later in the trip I ended up deep in the Amazon jungle surrounded by nature and animals and I an epiphany that I should become an artist. I researched where the best place to study mosaic was and went to Venice to do a short course, jacked in my job and I’ve been making art for the last 2.5 years.
I made a collection of work and put on my first show on in the basement of a pub, the Tate heard about it and invited me to run a workshop in response to the Damien Hirst exhibition. Since then I’ve been invited to work on Harrods windows, exhibited at London Design Festival and Tate Britain, and had shows in Ibiza and the USA.
Describe your typical working day.
Wake up around 8am and check emails with breakfast in bed. Cycle 10 minutes across the park to my studio at Hackney Downs Studios. Then I work on my projects – which involves brainstorming, planning, experimenting, creating and making mess. Typically I’m working on art commissions, preparing for exhibitions and designing window installations. We all eat lunch together or sometimes. I’m the last to leave at 7pm at the earliest. If there’s time I’ll eat out with friends. Then I’ll often come back home and work more. Sleep at 1am. Sometimes 3am… I’m a night person. I peak at 10pm.
Why do you love your job?
I love having ultimate freedom, creativity and expression. Dreaming up new art projects, getting excited, sharing ideas and collaborating, discovering and playing – I love my job.
Did you have any setbacks along the way?
I gave up financial security and traded my very full social life while I worked away developing a collection. It was hard but worth it. I hadn’t created art for 15 years so I had a lot to discover. I needed no distraction so I went underground for a year.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I never really knew. I discovered my real passion at the age of 29. I’m constantly creating – making up for lost time!
Which career achievement are you most proud of?
I was invited to run a workshop and exhibit my work at Tate Modern and Tate Britain – it’s been amazing to work with some of the most renowned art galleries in the world.
What have you learnt?
Go with your gut instinct and feel the fear and do it anyway.
We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – do you manage it?
My work-life balance is work-work-work right now. There is no balance! That’s my aim for next year. I’ve only been an artist for a few years so I wanted to fully immerse in my new career. Also I love my job so it doesn’t feel like work. I do exactly what I want.
What advice would you give someone thinking of changing careers and becoming an artist?
Be fearless in putting your work out there. Don’t expect or want everyone to like your work. Don’t give up. Set mini goals and wild, big dream goals and keep checking in and revising your goals. Celebrate when you achieve something. Enjoy the process of trying to achieve your dream. Learn from mistakes. Network. Attend gallery openings, art fairs and exhibitions. Experiment. Give up things that don’t serve you in order to make time for your true passion.
Tell us your five-year goal.
I want to constantly evolve creating intricate works that I’m really proud of. I want to up my game with every new project. I am a big animal lover and I want to create artworks that help save animals from extinction. I helped Save Wild Tigers charity raise over £10K by creating a crystal tiger sculpture and my vision is to help save more animals from extinction through art. Also, I’d love to work with Alexander McQueen.
For more information about Lauren, visit her website.
Looking for more career inspo? It’s not too late to book tickets for Marie Claire’s @ Work Live,
in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April
2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.