Lauren, this is an interesting approach you’ve taken, where you deliver a weekly dose of text and illustration. How did this idea develop?
I think the idea came about because I wanted an excuse to start drawing again. I’ve always done both, but I never thought about putting writing and drawing together, so for a while I stopped drawing completely because I thought I had to choose one.
When I started my weekly emails, I decided to do the drawings just for fun. Since I liked it so much, of course I felt guilty and thought I should stop. But I had a commitment to my audience now, so I kept going.
Does it grow out of a larger project?
This approach does grow out of a larger project. The ongoing story is extracted from a novel I’ve been working on for about a year now. I wanted to find a way to release work regularly, figure out who my audience is, and get feedback while still focussing on my main project.
Has this has been a successful approach?
I’m not sure how successful it’s been, to tell you the truth. I’ve definitely learned a lot since I started doing this in August. I didn’t think anyone would like the drawings, but to my surprise, that has not been the case. I’ve also learned that the illustrations are an integral part of my work, not just a “guilty pleasure.”
But it’s difficult to tell the full story this way. I find it hard to choose which parts to share, since there’s so much more that I’m not sharing. I’ve found the most successful newsletters have been ones where I’ve repurposed some basic ideas from the story in a less literary way.
My Christmas Special, Fruit Cake, was more successful. It was kind of like a mini graphic novel with different characters from my main series. I had a lot of fun making it, and people seemed to like it. I also have plans to turn that one into something bigger, but I have to finish what I’m currently working on first!
What are the benefits in serial storytelling?
I like breaking a larger story into little slices. Plus, you get to stay with the same characters and follow them on their journeys throughout multiple storylines. Serial storytelling is still quite new to me, so I’m figuring it out as I go.
What about serial dating? Anything to say about that? You have an interesting perspective on modern love…
Serial dating definitely has a bad reputation. I think it’s often characterized by an aversion to real feelings and real relationships, and that seems highly cynical on the surface.
On a deeper level, when romantic love is put on a pedestal and exalted, the only way to maintain the pure ideal is to protect it from the reality of day to day life.
So maybe all the serial daters are actually closet romantics who don’t want to let go of their idealism, the disney-style romance many of us grew up with.
But I’ve never had a real love, so what do I know?
What do you think about AI in art?
When I was in high school, I had a series of nightmares about a machine that produced art so fast it made artists obsolete. And now here we are. I definitely worry about AI. It’s enraging watching so many artists’ work being used without their consent in a way that undermines their careers.
In the end though, I don’t think AI will replace the human touch of real artists.
What do you think about capitalism and art?
I believe that part of the purpose of art is to resist capitalism. Making and appreciating art eases the pain of living every day as cogs in a massive machine that is systematically destroying the planet. Then again, capitalism deprives so many people of the opportunity to make art. If more people could focus on making art instead of money, I think the world would be a much better place.
What’s next for Lauren Klein?
Publishing my graphic novel!
First I have to finish it though.