L Star Murals is artist Lauren McElroy’s creative brainchild that’s making a visual splash. Lauren’s a local Eastside Echo Park based muralist creating custom artwork for both commercial and residential spaces. We’re thrilled to have caught up with her for a chat. Several of our real estate clients are interested in innovative solutions to otherwise blank canvas walls – so this might be a colorful fit!
How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
Since 2008, so 8 years now.
What are your thoughts on how the Eastside is changing?
I have never lived in a neighborhood that was transitioning so quickly. At times it is a bit startling, honestly. In terms of bars and restaurants, some fantastic ones have worked their way into my new favorite hangout spots. And the revitalization project at Echo Park Lake was such a positive change for the neighborhood. That place is a community sanctuary. I love how on any given day you can find a film shoot, gym class, scavenger hunt, critical mass, make-out session, hardcore workout, religious meeting, tightrope walker, soccer game, fashion photoshoot, awkward first date, music video, saxophone solo, tarot card reading, yoga class, quinceanera celebration, plein air painter, dog’s birthday party, kite flying, sad break-up or business deal. It is the best.
What are your favorite local spots for dining and relaxing?
I love walking and I live in Echo Park, which provides so many options right there. If I were to plan a whole day in Echo Park it would include hitting the Brite Spot for breakfast, a hike through Elysian Park, lunch at Xoia, dog watching at Echo Park Lake, coffee at the Boathouse, dinner at Taix and drinks at Bar Bandini. Oh, and grabbing a late night taco on the way home of course.
What was your first job and how long did you have it?
I was a babysitter at a local Presbyterian church every Sunday. I never knew how many kids were coming each week, and their ages ranged from 6 months to like 5 years old. Tough crowd. But overall it was a pretty fun job. I got to color, change diapers, sing songs, etc. At one point I knew the song Jesus Loves Me in sign language. I remember getting in trouble for showing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (which the kids, of course, loved). I worked there all through high school, amidst other jobs.
When did you discover your passion for painting murals?
It snuck up on me. I’ve always drawn, painted and made things with my hands. By the time I moved to Los Angeles I had been making abstract paintings in my studio for a few years and was working as a commercial artist. I got the chance to paint my first big mural at Trader Joe’s, and cobbled together how the heck to do that on the spot. I loved how it felt to make something bigger than myself, and that the process itself was a mental journey as well as a physical process. Now the thing I love most about making murals is how they have the ability to influence the way people feel within a space. The joy it brings to other people is a real high for me.
Tell us about the L Star Murals creative process.
When I am drawing it goes something like this: brainstorm, make ‘to do’ list, stare into space, collect visual references, get snacks, start drawing, stare into space, overwork drawing, stare into space, start new drawing, get snacks, look at both drawings with disdain, stare into space, have a better idea, add “make 2 bad drawings” to ‘to do’ list, cross that off, call it a day. When I am painting it is a whole different story.
Tell us about the process of launching L Star Murals.
After I had a few murals under my belt I made a website, business cards and flyers. I wrote hundreds of handwritten letters and emails to businesses that were about to open, as well as paint companies, interior designers, contractors and event planners. I put profiles up on social media sites, basically anything that was free where I could post pictures. After about a year and a half of taking jobs as they slowly came my way, I gained enough momentum to quit my day job. I remember that day really well, because I had a flood of mixed emotions. My husband and I had a champagne toast after I got off work, and within the hour I was already working on my “first” new project which came with a pretty tight deadline. It’s been a fun, surprising journey ever since, and I have enjoyed working with some of the most rad clients around!
If we had the chance to peek at your schedule, what would an average day look like?
Tasks that are usually in rotation are: working on designs at home, painting signs in the studio, painting murals onsite, going to meet clients, quoting jobs, invoicing, updating pictures, and returning lots of phone calls and emails. There is no typical day, per se.
Tell us about a memorable L Star Murals project.
Probably the first time that I did a job running on pure adrenaline, which was for the show Kitchen Nightmares doing an overnight restaurant make-over. I arrived on set around 9pm to wet walls and a rough pencil drawing from the art director. I started in on sketches until we agreed upon our finished designs. I hit the walls around midnight, and with the help of an assistant painted two big walls over the next 9 hours. It was like time stood still while I focused on the task in front of me, and when I turned around the whole restaurant was completely overhauled. It was such a bizarre and awesome experience. That began my love affair with painting murals for television.
You painted the signage at Moby’s Little Pine Restaurant in Silver Lake. How was working with Moby?
Moby was really gracious and open to ideas. I saved the drawings he made of these little aliens on my clipboard during our meeting. It was a fun project, I would absolutely love to work with the folks at Little Pine again!
If you were told that you had to live inside a work of art, which would you choose?
Hmm… I don’t know where I would live, but I wouldn’t mind laying to rest inside a Rothko.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned about business since launching L Star Murals?
You’ll never regret treating your clients really well, however you will regret engaging with folks who do not respect you or what you do. Ignore the bad, reflect the good.
How have you overcome L Star Murals obstacles and stayed driven?
I talk my way through fears and obstacles with the closest people in my life. I try to break daunting tasks down into bite-sized pieces, take time to celebrate triumphs even if they are small, exercise if I get stuck, and do my best not to compare my business with others or think of my colleagues as competitors. Also, sometimes I read my Yelp reviews for a pick-me-up.
Many people struggle to turn their passions into careers. What advice would you give them?
You don’t need to figure everything out at once. Just do the first step, which brings you to the second. You will slowly start to build your own course that won’t necessarily look like anyone else’s, and that’s a beautiful thing. Your uniqueness is your strongest asset.
Gorgeous ceiling mural
Animal Constellation Mural
Frozen treats, anyone?
Labor of love
Retro Stripe Mural
I’m a local Real Estate Agent that cares about our neighborhoods
It would be my pleasure to help you find the perfect property to call home in Los Feliz CA, or if you’re thinking about selling a house, condo, or multi-family building in, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, Glassell Park, Mount Washington, Echo Park or Downtown Los Angeles, it would be a privilege to help you get top dollar for the sale of your property.
Lets chat sometime. 310-913-9477 or contact me.