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creative makers: lauren friday

Boy, it’s getting harder and harder to write introductions that do my subjects justice. I’m surrounded by so many creators in my life, amazing women who conquer fears every single day and inspire every person they know. I don’t want to start sounding repetitive but there are just not enough words. Not enough words. This particular darling of a gem is someone I’ve admired from the day I met her; she has always had a fearlessness about her (although I’m sure she’d argue otherwise), a confidence that was so evident yet still humble. She’s just one of those people who loves people and you can see it radiate in how genuinely she presents herself. I strive for that sort of graceful transparency, and I couldn’t do it without role models like Lauren.

creative-makers-lauren-friday-12 Tell me more about what you do.

I currently work for a brand new educational business named The Callback Company. It is a company focused on training students of any age how to audition well based on their own skills. We provide Broadway masterclasses, seminars, cabaret performances, local showcases and NYC showcases to help broaden our students horizons and give them the skills needed to succeed in the professional world. We also help high school students prepare for their college auditions so they have an even bigger shot at getting into their dream program. It has been an amazingly fulfilling experience.

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So what’s your average day look like?

To be truthful, I don’t feel like I have an “average day”. Since I have so many different projects, it’s all about prioritizing and multitasking. Every day begins the same, however, with a bountiful amount of coffee.

What inspires you? How do you stay motivated?

I have to find the tiny joys within each day. The small victories often lead to giant ones. I also have an amazing support system that surrounds me. I try to fill my life with the most creative and positive people there are and gain strength and motivation from their encouragement and talents of their own. Inspiration is all around me, I think. I can be inspired by commotion or stillness. The challenge I face most often when it comes to inspiration is being in the correct mindset to see it. I feel like as an artist living in this world as it is today, it is hard to take yourself out of the daily grind long enough to truly experience your surroundings. This is something I am working on. The tactic that works the best for me is changing my scenery and other elements in my environment. 

friendship

Friendship. It’s a tricky thing, ain’t it? I thought it was tricky in high school, but it continues to grow more elusive with every passing stage of life. I’ve come to a point in my life where a true friend is quite a rare find. And still even so, those true friends you do manage to keep end up being compartmentalized. That’s where I find myself, at least. I’m not sure if everyone else does the same or if it’s just the circumstances in which I’ve found myself (please do tell).

My college friends and I scattered after we graduated. Some stayed in my home state of FL – although all over up and down the state – and others went to opposite ends of the country. I slowly acquired new friends in Atlanta through work, craft, networking, and the like. You know, the adult ways. Yet still I’m quickly approaching the ripe age of 29 and often feel very lonely.

is this your heartbeat or is it mine?

A good friend of mine recently made the decision to change her entire life.

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Something was missing and she had been ignoring it for too long. She existed in a state of limbo, in between ending and beginning, wondering when she’ll feel whole. She decided she wasn’t going to be passive about it; instead she would seek it out for herself, shake things up and see where everything falls. Because it really was just like that – she was holding in her hands a configuration of little bits and pieces that she knew all too well. With her eyes closed, she held her breath and threw them up in the air. Now, watching them fall into a new set.

All of that was an effort to put into words how much I admire her self-awareness, courage, and willpower. She set out into an unknown and so I made this driving playlist for her, to keep her ablaze and give her company on her journey. What I didn’t know is that in creating such a playlist, I would end up listening to it nonstop.

I chose these songs because they speak to certain emotional moments you go through in shaking up your life: desire, awe, fear, doubt, nostalgia, peace, freedom. I find myself listening to this on repeat because I’m hoping I’ll catch some of her drive and, once again, get on with moving closer and closer to living the life I always dreamt about.

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“.. because they want to do that thing well and beautifully. and it’s not about quantity. It’s about taking pleasure in the perfection and beauty of the particular. I’m still learning now that it’s about good and maybe never done; that the joy and work ethic and virtuosity we bring to the particular can impart a singular type of enjoyment to those we give to and of course ourselves.

Make use of the fact that you don’t doubt yourself too much right now. As we get older, we get more realistic. And that includes about our own abilities or lack thereof. That realism does us no favors.

Just starting out, one of your biggest strengths is not knowing how things are supposed to be. You can compose freely because your mind isn’t cluttered with too many pieces and you don’t take for granted the way things are. The only way you know how to do things is your own way.”

scarlett hill: wildfire

One of the many things that make my life worthwhile is the chance to connect with talented creative individuals who make the world look, sound, and feel more beautiful. Be it through canvas or song, creative expression is at the core of our humanity. So when I’m able to share my dedication and love for it with another person, there is an instant bond and understanding of spirit. This is what happened with me and Scarlett Hill.

scarlett-hill-album-43ascarlett-hill-album-71aThey just get it. It’s not about a desire for fame or money (although some money would be nice). It’s about forging genuine connections and putting out more good into the world. Perhaps that sounds lofty for people like us – just starting out and trying to make a mark wherever we can – but it’s an aspiration I think we all could be more mindful of in the things we do. I’m honored that they gave me the opportunity to do this photo shoot for their album, Wildfire, coming out August 1st.scarlett-hill-album-15ascarlett-hill-album-7ascarlett-hill-album-36a

scarlett-hill-album-28aCheck out their music video “Whiskey” and follow them on Facebook to stay up to date on their new releases!
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8 fears you’ll face in your 20s

Do you ever feel like you’re 22 going on 35, yet you’re nowhere near “having it all”? Well, that’s pretty much been the summary of my existence for the last five years. I’m not sure where this originated, but I’ve always thought that women in their 30s were the most beautiful, most pulled-together women I knew. They are confident, successful, still growing, and know what they want out of life. The problem is that to get to your 30s, you have to go through your 20s. Well, how does it happen? How do we become who we want to be? overcome

What I think (hopefully I’m right) is that your 20s are for growing out of the expectations of life that you developed in your teenage years. You expect life to be grand, to be fulfilling and revelatory… to matter. And yes, they can and will be all of these things. But just not in the way you expect them to be. To be able to see that, to truly see the beautiful life set before you, you will have to overcome the fears built by your expectations. So I’ve come up with a list of these fears, the ones I’ve felt made the most impact in my own experience. It’s something I continue to revisit because I’m constantly battling in a struggle to overcome them. Hopefully they’ll resonate with you as well.

change

This will be the decade of the most notable change, mostly emotional. Naturally we all want to hold onto the things that we know best, but this can hinder us from envisioning better futures for ourselves. Change is inevitable and the only solution is to embrace it, to allow it to carry you like a wave under a surfboard. Ride that wave.

taking risks

It’s scary as shit to uproot your life and move to a new city or start a new job. Part of becoming an adult is knowing that you can jump, fall, and it’ll be okay. Actually, we learned this as children but somewhere in our adolescence we re-learn the fear of falling, metaphorically that is, and it keeps us from going after the things we really want. Don’t let this happen! Jump. And don’t look back.

missing out

In college, when everyone goes out, you go out too! In this social media driven world, we are feeling more pressure than ever to be a part of things. If not, then we’ll see it on Instagram or Facebook and feel like we’ve missed out on a great time or that our relationships will suffer because of it. But it’s not true. Missing out on random social outings can be a good thing. It means you’re prioritizing, figuring out what and who is most important and most valuable to you. Make all your moments count and only give mind and time to the people who really matter to you.

speaking up

You go through school being taught that you need to listen and follow rules to get ahead. The professional world is quite a different place. Confidence plays a huge role in getting what you want. If you aren’t able to voice your opinion or stand behind your decisions, it comes off as wishy washy, indecisive, and immature. You need to know why you do the things you do and you need to be ready to defend yourself and your worth. Allow yourself to be strong. It’s not bitchy, it’s not delusional. Believe in yourself and give yourself the respect you deserve. 

fullness is like a tidal wave

”  You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.  ”

The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947
[ via brain pickings ]

what’s next

When you’re working a full-time retail management job and trying to sustain creativity in your free time, it can be difficult to stop and smell the roses. It can be difficult to do anything in your off time besides lay on the couch like a petrified mummy. Not too long ago, I had all the time in the world to do exactly that – to contemplate, to plan, to nurture my studio practice. But I didn’t. I dragged my feet, knowing that there was always a tomorrow to continue working on my checklist. And I ended up never finishing, never starting anything really. I was treading water.

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It was inevitable that I’d have to return to full-time work. I mean, the drawing thing just wasn’t happening (well, I wasn’t making it happen) and a girl has got to eat and support her caffeine slash shopping addiction. So here I am, struggling to keep up the energy to be positive and motivational for my team at work and baffled as to how I’m going to manage keeping up the pace in my independent pursuits. With the holidays here and in my face, all I want to do is eat and be merry. Can you blame me? I don’t want to keep holing myself up in my house, with my little paints, trying to produce pretty on paper (or bags). But if I stop now, then what? What comes next? 

blooming

These past few months have really flown by, and though it may not look like it from the lack of blog posts, I’ve been quite the busy bee. The highlight of my fall season was finally getting my work printed and available for sale. The exhibition at Octane filled my heart and showed me that I could really do this if I just keep pushing, little by little. It’s still (always is) a work in progress. For the show I formed a collection of 15 floral prints which are all now viewable here.

Flora 15 by Christina Kwan / tide & bloom

 

Unfortunately, you can’t purchase them through the interwebz just yet, but it’s top priority for me moving into the holiday season! For now, there are two ways to get you some. The first is to email me at christina.ann.kwan@gmail.com (or talk to me in person if you know me IRL). The second, for all you local folk out there, is to purchase them at Crafted Westside. I still have all prints in stock, and a fair amount of the originals. I’m also happy to do any commissions if there are particular color schemes or flowers you’d like to see me do.

Though I don’t blog as frequently as I used to, I can promise you that all that time is going towards valuable projects and development. Next up is a collaboration for the holidays I’m extremely excited about… stay tuned for more progress posts. Oh, and follow along on instagram if you’d like to see more stuff from me on the regular!