This week, we got the chance to chat with talented multimedia artist Laura Le Jeune, our latest #COTW. Laura is 25 and currently lives in St Bees.
Their work is eclectic in nature, and they often take inspiration from a range of sources including the natural world, Studio Ghibli, colour, and how it connects with human emotion.
They work with a variety of different mediums, including digital, painting, drawing, pattern work, sculpture and more to create brilliantly bold and striking pieces of art that take on a variety of different subject matters and forms.
We chatted about activism, inspiration and his personal journey with art so far…
Tell us about your history with art so far
I’ve always been an arty kid, carried on with it through school, and did my A-Levels in it, but I loved the sciences too.
It was then a tie-up between following the sciences and going with the arts and I thought I'd be sensible and go with the sciences. That wasn't the right choice, but you know, you learn!
I went to Uni for two years, decided that wasn’t for me and when I came back, I realized that arting is the one thing that keeps me sane or at least the fun kind of crazy.
I've been experimenting with different things ever since and recently decided to try painting.
I like doing things where you can make big errors and then cover them up. I like wire sculpture, that's a lot of fun 'cause you can just re-bend it any shape you want after.
I did treat myself to an iPad, so I could do some more kind of digital style art, and I created some little characters which at some point I do plan on doing something with.
I find that creating is something I have to do. If I'm not creating, mentally I just start losing it a bit, I think it just feels like the light is gone, as cheesy as that sounds.
Do you think art and mental health go hand in hand, then?
Yeah, absolutely, and there'll be days when I won't even really feel like making anything. But I also know that It's gonna be the thing that pulls me out the hole, so I'm like, right, it doesn't matter if anything comes out, everything is good, just go and do something creative.
I always feel better afterwards even if I've just re-drawn the same pattern, I've drawn a million times before.
What inspires and influences you?
If I see or hear anything that is emotive, it just springs the brain cogs going.
I fricken love Studio Ghibli films, and with these characters I’ve been coming up with, there’s a lot of influence from the little Kodama, in Princess Mononoke, which are baby spirits from the trees that have a very kind of rough shape to them and a very basic humanoid form.
I don’t think you can help it, if something gives you that emotional tug, you’re going to end up taking it as inspiration and putting it somewhere.
Also, just colours, colours of life. If I do anything photography wise, I love finding small things that have a fantastic set of colours or pattern and trying to take pictures of them in a way that you don’t see very regularly just to add a new lift to it.
I would love to say I had a specific person who influences me, but mostly I just sit and wait for my brain to throw a picture at me.
The only reason I created the characters that I did was because I love nature because A- who doesn't and B- I wanted to try and learn to do a slightly more cartoony style and learn what lines are actually important in drawing your eye to the shape.
How would you describe your art style?
The biggest thing in my art is probably colour. I do a lot of black and white sketches, but the pieces never feel finished until I add colour and it tends to be bold colour as well.
I think the pieces that mean the most to me are the pieces that I’ve strived to put a personification of one kind or another into.
I do feel like my style is changing constantly but then I tend to get a lot of people saying, oh, you know, you can tell it's your style.
Do you have a favourite project or art piece that you’ve created so far?
One of my favourites is my light fixture! I took some wreath frames and some of those mini jam jars 'cause I had a load of the netting from oranges, and I put that in the jam jars. I love the colour orange and I didn't want to just throw all the netting in the bin!
So, I was like I have to find something to do with it. Got a load of fairy lights and made a light fixture, It has a really warm glow, and I felt like oh my god, It looks like something you’d buy!
We love that you share TikToks and content on your Instagram stories that explore and draw attention to important social justice issues, could you tell us more about your decision to do this?
There are so many things that just aren't talked about. On social media you see all this bad stuff happening across the world and you listen to the news and they're not talking about it. It's heartbreaking.
I want to lift the voices of people who actually are there and experiencing these things rather than trying to have my own say on it.
In Cumbria, it can often feel like we’re at least a decade behind the rest of the world with culturally understanding what’s going on. I just want to help raise the empathy level and help people have that extra second to think about how they could change the conversations they're having.
In the queer community as well, not really seeing queer adults means we don't really imagine a future for ourselves, TikTok helps in that sense and more safe spaces in Cumbria would be really nice.
But there’s so much hope too, I’m just so proud of the younger generation. Like there’s all this like discourse between millennials and Gen X but Gen X are amazing. They're just going full-on punk and anarchist for change. It inspires me so much.
Make sure you follow Laura’s art account here on Instagram to keep up with all her work.