FINDING STYLE with:
LAUREN BADENHOOP from GJUSTA
I’VE heard people talk about Los Angeles as people’s dreams all around America, the world even. People come to Los Angeles to pursue those intangible things, these dreams. Maybe pursue is the wrong word. After all, not everyone dreams the same. For some, dreams take their fulcrum point around wealth and success, and for those, they work tirelessly for it. Others merely dream of the happiness, and the freedom, and the environment for creativity that a place like Los Angeles stands as a flagship; much like New York or Paris. Personally, I think LA’s got both those other cities beat. Especially for a girl like Lauren Badenhoop. Number one, she’s a surfer, and the surfs in and around the LA city basin far surpasses that of New York, and Paris (obviously), and the shores of Florida where she hails from.
Lauren’s also a painter. And a certified EMT. And a business owner. But I’ll let her tell the story. She has her own way with words.
[ below is an excerpt from an interview transcript ]
IN HER WORDS:
SO I experienced anxiety and depression for the first time in 2018, when tax season came around, which sounds totally overheard LA, but it’s true. I completely lost my identity as an artist. I didn’t feel like an artist. I hated everything in my portfolio. I just wanted to not create until I was creating for me again.
So I quit. I still had people reaching out with projects they wanted me to do, and I would turn it down. At that time I was still in this relationship with the musician, and the only community I knew was his community, and they were beautiful wonderful people, but I didn’t have my own people. There was no one I knew that wasn’t with them. I had friends from Spartan Race, but they were really just work friends, and they were spread out all across the country.
It got to a point of thinking, I need to stop everything, and start doing something that gets my mind off the desperation of needing to make a buck in this industry. So I had to stop creating things essentially. Cold turkey. I went up to him and told him, “I’m quitting Spartan Race, and I’m also quitting doing graphic design because I hate everything I’ve made. I don’t feel good about the money that I’ve earned, and I owe $5,000 to the IRS because I couldn’t afford to live in LA and save 30% of the money I was making for taxes.” because I was working all on 1099s, an independent contractor.
It was this massive wall that hit me. But I’m all about plans now, like I said. So I started planning again. I told myself, I’m going to get a job and learn a skill. I didn’t want to just be a server again. I love getting coffee, so maybe I’ll learn how to be a barista.
At the same time I was thinking that, I had a friend approach me and ask if I knew anyone looking for a job as a barista.
She looked at me of course. “I thought you were going to try to get back into design work?”
I told her, “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, but I want that job.” So I got that job, and they trained me as a barista. It was at Bluestone Lane. I worked at the first Bluestone in LA, and then I opened up four other locations after that; Studio City, La Brea, Santa Monica, and Venice. It was cool. I learned a lot about coffee. They do it well, and they train you well. It’s pretty corporate now, because they have a massive investment deal, but that’s what got me back into the industry.
Throughout this whole time of growing through the company, my boyfriend said to me, “Lauren, I don’t really know what to call you anymore. You’re not a graphic designer, you’re not an artist, so… what are you, a barista?”
That sunk in so hard. He said that at a time when I was already having my own identity crisis. I kept thinking, I’ve been working as a barista for three months, I haven’t been doing design. What the hell am I doing? All of a sudden, he, the person that’s supposed to love and support me no matter what is happening, questions it.
I was floored. What the fuck am I?
Pretty sure that was when I knew for a fact that he and I were not going to work out. It hurt so bad. It was pretty fucked up. It also set me back a moment, but it’s also been a really big driving force since.
Still, I was super stubborn. I said, I will not draw anything, I refuse, until I, myself want to pick up that paper and pen, and draw.
So after breaking up with him, moving out and finding this place, and a really amazing group of close girlfriends, we would have these dinners on Wednesdays and some nights we’d all go out, then stay at the house, and the next morning all go out for breakfast.
We were walking to breakfast and I was on the side of the road these beautiful wood headboards. I said, “These would make such a beautiful frame for a painting or something. If it’s here when we get back, we’ll pick it up. After breakfast, they were still there, so we pick them up. They were so fucking heavy. “Ok well,” I said, “If it’s here when we get back, then it’s really meant to be when we have a car.” So we walk back to the house, get the car and come back. The headboards are still there. There’re two of them. It was this beautiful twin bed made for a kid probably in the ‘30s, so we shove them into my tiny hatchback, and we all had to lap up because they took up so much space. On the ride home the thought just came to me: I’m going to order a canvas. So I bought a roll of unstretched canvas, and paintbrushes and paint, and I started painting. That’s the very first one, the seed.
It’s nothing really, and I like it like that. I don’t know where the shapes come from. When I see shadows from the trees, and there’s this negative space from the light shining through, it makes these weird, wonky little shapes. When a wave crashes into sudsy whitewater, there’re all these shapes that happen in between that the suds make. There’s the way that the hills stack, there’s distance being made. They get lighter and lighter.