10 Questions featuring Lauren Ronquillo
Lauren Ronquillo is "a multidisciplinary graphic designer specializing in hand lettering, illustration & signage". I first met her on Lauren Hom's Passion to Paid course in early 2017, and quickly fell in love with her kind spirit and amazing skills.
Here are her responses.
Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, I'm asking letterers and calligraphers I admire to share their thoughts on success, frustration, personal experiences, and more.
What's your name and where can we find you?
What's your lettering / calligraphy background?
I kid you not I got forced into lettering by my restaurant job in college. My manager noticed I had a knack for making the chalkboard specials nice and insisted I was now in charge of them. And I was like… sure? At the time I was rather indifferent, but soon after I found myself studying with Louise Fili and the rest is history.
When was the last time you surprised yourself?
Because I believe most things are possible and I live my life quite open to strange turns I genuinely don’t find myself surprised too often, but I had an absurd shocking moment of clarity this past year. Back in my very last semester of college I had the pleasure of studying with total babe Debbie Millman. One of her assignments was simply to write a ten year plan, nothing too out of the ordinary, but she wanted us to put our intentions into words- make it tangible. I more or less forgot all about its existence upon graduation but had stored my assignments from her class for safe keeping. I came across them about a year ago somewhere in Malaysia where I was remotely working as a freelancer and creating for Lauren Hom, who had become a dear friend and even mentor. Despite how romantic that may sound, I was going through a bit of a rough patch where I just felt utterly behind. So im reading this ten year plan and the majority is the following: I will find myself around the world. (Check) I will support myself as a freelancer. (Done) I will be as productive as ever, attending conferences across the globe. (Attended my first in Australia) I will find myself a solid community of creators. (Did that and more) I will see where this industry takes me. (Oh did I) So yeah, I was surprised to find myself feeling behind when I had already completed loads on my ten year plan… within a year and a half. The power in writing things down… All hail queen Debbie.
What is your greatest frustration in the creative process?
Lol, everything. I’m fairly open about the fact that its quite rare I’m having “fun” when creating. I adore thinking up ideas, creating mood boards, doing all the research and making big plans- but the moment I can imagine the outcome of a project it's game over. I don’t enjoy the work work almost ever. I believe theres a handful of creators out there that agree with me on this topic, but it's just so taboo to admit, it's like saying you regret having children or something awful for a creator to not be fully enthralled with every moment of their work. I love what I do, there are moments it makes my heart sing and I genuinely find it to be important work and that's why I continue to put up with its bullshit. We have to be honest with ourselves and others entering the creative field that it's still a job- you aren’t going to love every moment of it, and that's okay. Your job as a creator isn’t for YOU to have fun, it's for you to contribute to the society you live in. You may enjoy the process of creating that contribution in every waking moment, but that's not the point. I have the upmost dignity in my work, that's what I care about.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Not getting sucked into being afraid of living an unconventional lifestyle. The internet has allowed for an incredibly exciting time, full of knowledge, connection, freedom & power. Fuck the system.
Who are your favorite artists?
Not necessarily for the work itself but for what it means to be an an artist, to fully contribute, to emerse yourself: Picasso, because he was constantly reinventing himself, testing the limits, never getting too comfortable. Warhol, because he encouraged other artists, he brought people up with him, he created a lovely thriving community. Dali, because he saw everything as art, as one should. He photo-styled a cookbook, he built an interactive museum, he art-directed and starred in a 70s Playboy spread. Aesthetically speaking: Matisse, Helmut Newton, Wes Anderson, Alexander Mcqueen, William Morris, Walter Crane, Kolomon Moser, Antoni Gaudí. I try to not get too caught up in what current designers or letterers are up to (unless it's to show support, etc) merely for the sake of innovation, I think we need to watch how closely we are influenced by our peers' work.
What is your motto?
“Anything worth doing is worth over doing.” Originally said by Mick freakin’ Jagger.
If you weren't a letterer/calligrapher, what would you be and why?
Well, I consider myself primarily a designer, with lettering only being one tid bit of what I do. Not only is that exactly how I would have it, but I truly don’t see any other way my life would have played out. Not only have I always been creative, but I’ve also never been able to make up my mind. For better or for worse.
What's your ONE piece of advice to people starting out?
Getting to know yourself is directly correlated with creating good genuine work. Not too long ago I was actually in a pretty dark place in regards to my career. I realized that I was heading in a direction that didn’t necessarily mean “failure”, but would no doubt end in me being miserable. I had just begun traveling the world at the time, and unintentionally really getting to know myself, as you do whilst traveling. The good and the bad, all the nooks and crannies. With that came a whole new way of going about things in not only my career, but also my personal life. It changed everything. So with that I say if you are lost or stuck or unhappy- leave. Flying across the globe is not necessary (albeit effective.) Don’t let anyone tell you that taking care of yourself first is a waste of time. You are a creative, you are not a paper pusher, what is going on in your mind, body and soul will run perfectly parallel to your success.
Anything you'd like to add:
Don’t give the people what they want- give them what they need.