Leah Goren


Southern California

Leah Goren is an illustrator living in Southern California. She graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2012 with a BFA in Illustration. She is the author and illustrator of Catlady (Prestel) and Besties (Clarkson Potter), and co-author of Ladies Drawing Night (Chronicle).

“Unexpected moments can happen in the paint.”

When you get a new project from Blue Q, how do you begin? What’s the starting point?

When I receive a new project, my starting point usually involves understanding what Blue Q is looking for: theme, colors, concept, etc. From there I begin brainstorming and sketching initial ideas, exploring different concepts, compositions and visual elements. A lot of the time, I'll get into painting final work pretty quickly, because unexpected moments can happen in the paint that will inform the direction of everything.

Have any special tricks or insights into how to connect with your audience and make ‘em respond?

I've always felt like staying true to myself is key. When I create work that genuinely reflects my emotions and experiences, I think that really comes through in the reaction from the audience. At the same time, not every project is like that, and it's OK for some things to just be pretty or useful! Social media makes it pretty easy to gauge what projects people respond to or don't, and that can be helpful to keep in mind when working on new pieces or projects.

Where do your best ideas come from? (dreams, shower, museum, train?)

Ideas usually come from a combination of sources. Nature and the world around me often spark inspiration, whether it's the colors of a sunset or the intricate patterns of a leaf. I also find that exploring different visual forms — anything from sculpture to movies to a memory that pops into my head of an old '90s magazine layout — can translate into my work. Talking with other creative people I know also helps to form and develop ideas.

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

As a child, my favorite thing to draw was people. I would draw imaginary groups of friends or families, paying close attention to what they were wearing, their personalities and imaginary relationships. It was almost like creating my own dolls!

Morning bird or night owl?

I'm a little bit of both! I love the jolt of energy and inspiration I get first thing in the morning while I'm drinking my coffee, but I also find that the quiet and peaceful nighttime hours allow for a good creative flow. At night I can dive deep into work without distractions.