introducing, lauryn alvarez.
Finding serenity through each paint stroke and capturing moments with her analog film camera, Lauryn Alvarez has explored a wide variety of art mediums throughout the years. Today, she is collaborating with signature lifestyle brands, as well as notable faces in the surf and skate industries. Through Lauryn’s own words, her work has taken her to heights she has never imagined. Even with this profound growth as an artist, Lauryn has continued to stick to her true vision, life ambitions, and self-worth.
Lauryn has also become a recognized person here at SEED People’s Market from her weekend sprees at the store to her collaborated work with partnered clothing brand, Rhythm. When I proposed this campaign idea to Lauryn along with an inaugural feature about her lifestyle and profession, she promptly said yes and was stoked to get started.
On a chilly Friday morning in February, I heard a quick knock at the door and saw a smile that could warm up the entire marketplace. The one and only Lauryn Alvarez was back at SEED. From our in-depth tour of the marketplace to our delightful conversation at the picnic tables, time felt quick, and talking seemed easy with Lauryn. We discussed her fascination with fashion, her perspective on the pandemic, her career crossroad in college, her ambitions with art, and so much more.
I feel like I’m spoiling too much. So with that being said, enjoy our picnic table talk along with stunning visuals down below in this edition of Unique Styles, Untold Stories.
"being inspired by creative individuals."
Welcome to SEED, Lauryn! Our team has known you and your work for quite some time now. For those who don’t know too much, can you highlight what you do during your day-to-day?
My name is Lauryn Alvarez, and I’m a painter and photographer. My day-to-day really depends. If I’m not shooting photos up in LA, I’m in my studio in Costa Mesa. It’s a great space. I share it with three other lovely gals, surrounding myself with and being inspired by creative individuals. It’s a nice little nook where I can keep my supplies and paintings. There’s just an energy about that spot. I’ve always wanted a studio space. Working from home as a painter was always hard, not getting distracted by chores or my cat. And so I was able to get a spot through my friends and it’s been great to have a spot to keep all of my mess.
I also like having a nice work-life balance. On the side, I like going on hikes, going surfing, going on runs, and just chilling out at home.
How would family and friends describe you?
I’ve been told nice things! I’m very honest, trustworthy, nurturing, and thoughtful. I also have the quality to make people feel comfortable.
Well, I’m not running away.
"I love the mix of handmade items or wearing something that is smaller-brand."
Feel free to describe what you're wearing in this interview and your overall fashion taste as of late.
I was hoping you would ask! A lot stuff that I'm wearing is thrifted and maybe not truly vintage, but rather old. The sweater that I'm wearing is a mohair cardigan that I got from Captain's Helm, located down in Oceanside. I'm also wearing my vintage Levi's as the way they're worn-in is very nice.
I’ve been really into vests as of late, so I have my denim vest on as well. And I have all of my necklaces; I made some that I’m currently wearing. I love the mix of handmade items or wearing something that is smaller-brand, and trying to mix it all with vintage, second-hand pieces.
"I’ve also been loving textures."
Are there any colors, textiles, or fabrics you’ve been adopting as of late?
Yes, I’ve been loving little knits. Cardigans, sweaters, and such. A good ol’ chunky sweater during these freezing months.
“Freezing”. As it’s 68 degrees here in Orange County.
It’s been pretty cold as of late! I’ve also been loving textures such as lace, velvet, and mohair. And denim is always a staple. I sometimes like to wear denim on denim as it’s such a sick look.
"it’s the small things with the right intentions."
Do you try your best to live sustainably and shop small business?
Day to day, I try to be intentional with what I’m consuming and how I'm living. Whether that’s filling up my reusable water jug to using as little waste as possible. I’m not trying to be perfect, but it’s the small things with the right intentions. When it comes to shopping, it’s being able to support the smaller brands when you can and buying second-hand. I’ve noticed that SEED has taken in second-hand sellers like Less is More who (the owner) is a great friend of mine. It allows clothes from a past life a second chance.
You said it quite well; It’s rather difficult to be perfect when it comes to sustainability. But it’s all about making those small adjustments in your lifestyle, one by one.
"a brand that’s much more intentional of what they’re putting out there."
When it comes to brands, it can be very daunting to find the right one. What values stand out to you when looking for that next brand?
I definitely love a brand that can provide clothing items that can last a long time. That’s always been the case for brands like Levi’s when it comes to their jackets and pants. Even as a kid, you would wear the same things over and over again. If there was a hole, you could just patch it up or stitch it. And so I normally gravitate towards those brands. Those that aren’t just part of some trend cycle and are thrown away after a few months. Rather a brand that’s much more intentional of what they’re putting out there.
Materials are also very important to me. I’ve noticed that a lot of brands that SEED carries like Jungmaven and Thrills are made from materials like hemp. That material is so soft and it’s nice to have something so pure on your skin. It’s a much more natural feeling than other materials.
"Throughout the store, there’s a story to be told."
You’ve done some shopping here at SEED People's Market. What are your thoughts?
I’ve been coming to SEED People’s Market for a long time and like the way the marketplace constantly changes and keeps things fresh. I love all of the brands that SEED carries and you can tell that everything is very intentional. Throughout the store, there’s a story to be told.
And I was able to pick out some great things! I grabbed the Plasticana Gardana Clogs. I’ve been seeing them around recently and they look really comfortable. They seem to be a great studio shoe and I can just wear them around casually.
I also grabbed some Jungmaven Hemp Crew Socks as I’m a sucker for a nice pair of crew socks. They have a dark, jade green color to them.
Finally, I picked out a cobalt blue Hemp Paper Rib Micro Tee from Thrills. I’m also a sucker for a nice, quality t-shirt. I’ll probably wear all of them together very often and keep them forever. Some staple favorites from really great brands.
STORY CONTINUED BELOW...
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"We love a pair of paint pants."
What do you typically wear in the studio?
Comfortability is huge for me! I have a few pairs of pants that are just covered in paint. That’s just the way I work; If I get paint on my hand, I don’t want to stop what I’m doing, and I just wipe the paint on my pants to be more efficient.
That’s kind of "in" though!
We love a pair of paint pants. Just having a pair of Levi’s, a t-shirt that I don’t mind getting paint on, and some clogs. Now that I have the Plasticana Gardana Clogs, I’ll definitely be wearing them more often in the studio.
"But hey, all black is pretty timeless."
When it comes to the evolution of our fashion, we’ve definitely adopted some embarrassing trends back in the day. Do any come to mind for you?
Honestly, I was pretty cool!
Oh, c’mon, Lauryn.
Okay, it has to be skinny jeans for me. I was absolutely obsessed with skinny jeans. Looking back, that was probably the worst thing. And back in high school, I wore black a lot. But hey, all black is pretty timeless. I tried not to get into fashion trends back then and try not to now. But sometimes I’ll adopt something like clogs, for example.
Funny enough, they’re our top sellers.
They’re great! They’re really comfortable and unique looking.
"just starting with a sketchbook and a pencil."
As a painter, where do you begin? Do you have an idea visualized in your head or do you just start with some strokes and let the brush take you?
It varies! For the most part, I just start painting for the simple joy of doing it. When I look for something new to create and I don’t have many ideas flowing, I would just sit with my sketchbook and start thumbnailing different ideas, forms, and concepts. There’s a lot of freedom with just starting with a sketchbook and a pencil as you’re not committing to a piece yet.
There are other times that I’m incredibly inspired by a color palette, start with four colors, and see how to utilize those colors in the painting.
Are there any color palettes that you’re currently obsessed with?
Yes! I’m currently into cobalt blue and sage green. I also love using a variety of different colors such as red, blue, and yellow. But I like this idea of taking brighter colors and muting them down a bit, so that they pop, yet have a more natural feel to them.
"there’s just a charm to it that I really appreciate."
I know that you’ve ventured into other art mediums such as film photography. Feel free to talk about shooting film and any other mediums you’ve adopted recently.
I’ve been taking photos since I was fourteen years old, so it’s been a while! I’ve gotten really into film and using analog cameras. There’s a special charm to these cameras as they’ve lived a whole life before I’ve even started using them. Looking through the dusty/foggy viewfinder, there’s just a charm to it that I really appreciate. I’m incredibly inspired by vintage photography and imagery.
I’ve gotten into digital photography, as well as lighting as of late. I want to be able to be more intentional with my lighting as you can create a mixture of feelings just by adjusting the lighting.
In regards to other mediums, I haven’t dabbled with clay in a long time, but I got into ceramics back in 2020. I bought a wheel off of Facebook Marketplace for a relatively cheap price.
Facebook Marketplace is the way to go.
It is the way to go. And it’s a great wheel, but it’s a lot! It takes a lot of time and patience to wait for the drying process of the clay, as well as the refining process of the base. Regardless, I’ve been making cool things such as these little mugs with noses on them. They’re really cool!
I haven’t done it in a while and really want to get back into it as I love building and making things. In fact, I also just picked up wood carving. I own some whittling tools and knives, as well as blocks of basswood.
"I strive to make things that don’t have to be perfect."
I feel like for some artists, a piece is never perfect. Do you run into any internal conflicts with perfection?
Personally, I’m not much of a perfectionist. I wish I was though. I like the idea of being a perfectionist, but deep down, I don’t think it’s in me. I get way too excited to finish a piece and it takes time to perfect something. At the end of the day, it’s never going to be perfect, so I have to accept that. In the process of painting, I strive to make things that don’t have to be perfect. I like seeing a random paint stroke or seeing a piece of the canvas when I miss a certain area. I love how it looks!
I personally shoot digitally and if I get a shot completely out of focus, I’ll just add a little grain on Lightroom and go, “boom, it’s a film photo”.
Adobe Lightroom is a savior. I love that though; I honestly think with photography, there is beauty in those imperfections. I’m all for the imperfect photo or the imperfect painting. It shows that a human was involved and that we’re not perfect.
"It’s a neverending journey and chase, but that’s what keeps me going."
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to taking photos or painting?
The biggest thing is that I’m really picky with colors whether that’s with photos or paint. There’s a lot that can be said through colors. For example, if one photo is supersaturated and the other is more muted, they create completely different feelings. Even black and white versus colored. And I love colors, but there are so many options that I often get overwhelmed. But it's about letting go and knowing that my vision is still attached to everything I create at the end of the day. It’s a neverending journey and chase, and that’s what keeps me going.
"capturing photos that I truly resonated with."
You have a great relationship with one of our brands, Rhythm. Feel free to talk more about what you do for them.
Rhythm is great! They reached out to me back in the Summer of 2019 at a time when I completely changed my direction in photography. I only wanted to shoot photos that I was genuinely stoked with. Before that, I was not really creating work that I was inspired by. I felt like I was just shooting photos just to shoot photos, and I really didn’t have any sort of direction of what I wanted. So I was taking a break from client work together, and I was only shooting film and taking photos for fun, and just creating for the joy of it.
And Rhythm liked what I was doing which was sick because I’ve always liked the brand. It was even better that they came to me at a point where I’m capturing photos that I truly resonated with.
We’ve been working together for the past few years and everyone on that team have been so supportive of my creative direction. They’re really trusting in me and have allowed me to pitch projects. Even though a lot of them are located in Australia, it still feels like a family. I’m very grateful for that relationship.
"I’ve learned how to be able to vouch for myself as an artist."
Not all clients have been perfect for other freelancers. How have other client-based relationships been with your freelancing?
For the most part, I’ve had a lot of luck with everyone I’ve worked with. Something that I’ve learned when being an artist and making that become a career is that you’re going to be creating for other people. Furthermore, you’re going to be communicating with others and I’ve learned how to be able to vouch for myself as an artist.
"I kind of did everything."
Have you been a creative person for as long as you could remember?
Yes, definitely! Something that I’m incredibly proud of is that ever since I was little, I’ve had this vision in my mind that I’m going to be an artist. It feels like yesterday when nine-year-old me was sewing purses and stuffed animals for my friends. My dad was always very helpful with giving sewing tips and tricks. I also enjoyed drawing, writing stories, creating books with illustrations, and making jewelry. I kind of did everything!
At some points, I wanted to be a fashion designer and at other points, I wanted to be a photographer. But now I’m doing a little bit of everything.
"all you really have is yourself."
What is some advice you can give someone who would like to pursue art as a hobby or livelihood?
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and other artists who can be supportive of your work. It’s incredibly inspiring and we’re all going through similar hardships, yet are all still killing it. It’s really comforting to know that I’m not alone.
Another piece of advice that I can give is that it’s not easy to push past those slow periods and push past the doubt. But in order to be an artist and become a successful artist, you have to put the work in on your mental state. Whether that’s through meditation, embracing nature, exercising, or all of those things. They’ve all helped me to keep going and keep pushing.
Finally, create something that is honest from your soul and build a life around you that you are proud of. Being proud of your work is so important because, at the end of the day, all you really have is yourself and you want to make something that you can be stoked about.
"I just had this feeling, you know what I mean?"
Did you attend college after graduating high school?
As a kid, I didn’t ever see myself going to college and picturing myself making it in the world as an artist. When I did go to community college, I remember showing up to class and not feeling like I was meant to be there. I would show up on campus and have a feeling that it really wasn’t going to go anywhere. I just had this feeling, you know what I mean? I love learning, but that traditional school structure wasn't for me. When I was in college, I just ended up ditching class to go shoot photos and ended up getting some photography jobs. I realized that I wasn’t ditching for nothing and at that point altogether, I decided not to continue the college route and pursued photography.
And when did you pursue painting?
I introduced painting into my wheelhouse in 2020 and everything began to switch. A lot of people weren’t down to shoot photos at that time and I needed something to do to fulfill my creative fix. I started to draw more, got into watercolor, and slowly moved my way up to acrylic paints.
"I didn’t want this to bring everyone apart rather it bring people closer together."
Let’s talk about 2020. How did you deal with everything from the virus to political and societal movements, and everything in between?
In 2020, it wasn’t the sickness that was hard; It was more so the state of the world and the overall energy around me. I could sense a lot of fear, unrest, and division among humanity, and that was really hard. Everything just felt very dark at that time. Being in my early twenties, I was also going through a lot of life changes personally, trying to figure out who I am and all of that stuff you go through.
What were some learning lessons you took from the pandemic?
Going through the “COVID-Era”, I definitely learned that compassion and empathy for everyone are really important, no matter where someone might stand or where their beliefs are. There were a lot of opinions flying around at that time and at the end of the day, I want to be able to understand where someone is coming from as there was a lot of passion there. I didn’t want this to bring everyone apart rather it bring people closer together.
The pandemic really did have this weird flow of human connection; Bringing people together, then apart, and then together again. Originating from a virus.
It’s crazy to think about what a pandemic can really do to people though! I remember just standing in line at a grocery store and holding in a sneeze. But if I could take anything away from the pandemic, it made me want to be more compassionate for others.
"It’s crazy to think about how this surf shop has propelled me into my art career."
I believe that when you pursue the things you love, you can run into some incredible coincidences and full circles. Can you relate to that at all?
I definitely have a story that made everything come full circle. A big component of my art career was working with Thalia Surf Shop in Laguna Beach. Matt Allen from Thalia, another really great artist and photographer, reached out to me in the late Summer of 2020. We did things like t-shirt collaborations and art showings where I was able to sell a few paintings. From there on out, we’ve had a really great relationship together.
What’s interesting is that when growing up, I picked up surfing through my dad and he loved going to Thalia Surf Shop. He was really good buddies with the owner, Nick. I just have these memories of running through the shop as a kid and checking out their surfboards.
And that’s just very special to me. I know that my dad is incredibly proud of my growth as an artist especially through the surf community. He grew up surfing and loving all of these different surf brands and surf shops.
It’s crazy to think about how this surf shop has propelled me into my art career!
"It’s something that I never imagined happening."
Would you say that nine-year-old Lauryn would be stoked to see where you are now?
I actually had this thought the other day! As an artist, you’re always vouching for yourself. You’re your own boss, manager, representative, and accountant. It’s sometimes a lot and it can be easy to get discouraged and to know if you’re on the right path. Every entrepreneur and person who works for themselves knows that there will be times when you’re not making as much money and it’s really easy to doubt yourself during those times.
So when I had this feeling the other day, I thought about my younger self and honestly think that nine-year-old Lauryn would be so stoked to see where I’m at today. And that made me feel very proud.
It’s something that I never imagined happening.
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