I hope to meet the lovely Leah Goren in person one day. She has quickly become one of my absolute favorite illustrators and designers. It all started with a cat dress I started spotting around the blogosphere. Then that morphed into an obsession with all her little quirky drawings and patterns. What I love most about her work is the mature aesthetic she brings to things that remind me of my childhood, like little floral patterns and creatures that belong in a storybook.
Her cat dress is one of my most prized closet possessions. While I already have plans to buy more of her goods, I have to be careful because it seems like she's adding brand new designs and garments to her shop every week! You have to stop tempting me, Miss Leah. But please don't stop.
I caught up with Leah via e-mail to get some more dirt on the girl and to talk about her life and inspiration. And now, the interview:
I’m happy to say I’m a proud owner of one of your cat dresses. But I have to ask where the inspiration came from. Why black cat heads? Why the dress?
The stamp was part of a different project, when I was first working with block printing a few years ago. I had never thought of printing it on fabric, but I had a rather boring, hot summer 2 years ago and got to experimenting. It seemed like the perfect first thing to try on fabric, and I was so surprised when it worked! I printed a bunch of fabric and made it into the dress for myself, which ended up being the same style I began selling it on.
I love your illustrations, especially your animals and other inanimate objects like baby doll dresses. What inspires you to draw such things?
I have an interest in designed objects and fashion, like shoes and clothing. I make some of these things myself, and if I can't make them it's fun to draw them. I also like to draw things I know will appeal to other people. People like animals--cats, dogs, bears, etc.--and drawing them is a way to connect to an audience.
What’s your favorite thing to draw/paint?
Flowers and made-up patterns.
When and how did you decide to put your artwork on clothing, scarves, and other things?
It just happened naturally, it wasn't really a decision. I wanted my work to have more of a purpose beyond the printed page, and I liked thinking it could become an object people could use, interact with, and love. I started with the block prints and moved on to digitally printing when that wasn't enough.
I absolutely adore the blog (A Future Present) that you and your graphic designer boyfriend share. Your place looks so lovely and dreamy. How does it work for you two, living with another artist/designer?
Thank you! It's amazing. I sleep as long as I want and my studio is just one room over. We're lucky to have a large enough apartment to have enough space for us both to work. And it's really nice that he can help me with layouts and type if I need it! Decorating the apartment is also a really fun thing to do together.
What’s in your Netflix queue?
You’re about to graduate from Parsons with a degree in illustration. What’s next for Leah Goren? I read somewhere that you’re collaborating with a clothing company! Can you spill the beans yet?
Nope, I won't talk about it yet. But you should see by the summer! I'm just going to keep working and hopefully make new things and get more jobs.
Your life seems very beautiful, creative, and busy with everything you have going on—school, an Etsy shop, side projects. Do you ever feel overwhelmed? How do you deal with it? And how do you keep the inspiration flowing when you have tons going on?
Yeah, it's really hard sometimes. A lot of the time I'm not very motivated and I just want to sleep ‘til 11 am (which for me is very late). It's important to take lots of breaks and make time for the things I really want to do. Some days I just have to say “No, I'm not going to finish these dresses today even though I'm supposed to,” and paint some fun things instead.
Thank you, Leah!