Art, snacks and ladies a.k.a. pretty much the essence of life.
While many artists tend to focus on solo projects and delve into the often secluded world of artistic creation, Leah Goren does the opposite: she tries to create communities within the art world. Drawing inspiration from the bright colors of LA, she mixed her influences with the tight-knit and supportive community of NYC—which ended up becoming the backbones of Ladies Drawing Night. An initiative co-founded and co-hosted by Goren, it unites women to draw together, hang out with a guest artist but most importantly have a comfortable space where art is encouraged amongst a community of creative women supporting each other.
Girls Are Awesome: Hi Leah! You co-host Ladies Drawing Night, bringing women together in creative spaces. Tell us a bit about how the project started and the motivation behind it:
Leah Goren: I host it with two ladies named Julia Rothman and Rachael Cole. I met Julia Rothman when she was a guest in one of my classes when I was attending Parsons. After a year or so we had become good friends, and Julia had met Rachael at a conference and brought us all together. We began LDN by simply drawing together for a scarf project, once a week for a few weeks. In the end we made the scarves and were happy enough with the outcome, but we realized the best part of it all was getting together to draw. We decided to continue these drawing nights, and started using the hashtag #ladiesdrawingnight on Instagram to share and compile our work. It seemed to catch on pretty quickly, as women noticed the hashtag and wanted to know how they could join in or host their own nights!
It’s inevitable that social media has a massive impact on creatives all around the the world. How do you think it has affected you as an artist?
Social media and the internet has been everything! While I was in school I began putting my work online on sites like Blogspot and Tumblr and selling handmade products on Etsy. This was six years ago, back when fashion and lifestyle blogs were huge! Instagram was brand new and everyone was really excited to discover and share new artists, designers and products. Instagram and Tumblr continue to be important outlets where I’m able to share what I’m working on with thousands of people in a way that can’t be done otherwise!
You’ve lived in both California and New York. How do you feel their unique surroundings have influenced your work?
New York is a great place for me to be focused and productive. It feels really good working here knowing that there is a large community of illustrators and other creatives who are doing the same thing as me. I grew up in Southern California and it’s so beautiful—the colors, plants and light are a big part of my work but I definitely had to move away before I could appreciate how much the landscape is a part of me. I love visiting home and drawing in my sketchbook, but I think I would find it a little aimless and isolating to live there again. It works really well for me to go a few times a year, and then pull from that nostalgia I have when I’m back in New York.
What kind of effect do you feel Ladies Drawing Night has had in terms of bringing artistic people together?
For me, sharing my experience through drawings or storytelling is what keeps me going. Most of my work is created in isolation—just me in my office with my cats. Putting it out in the world and seeing how it affects people is the most rewarding part.
As we are drawing we are constantly talking about our work and giving each other suggestions. I get a perspective on my work that I wouldn’t on my own. It’s also a safe space to try new things; I used to be afraid of drawing complicated scenes, but after beginning to draw them during our drawing nights, my work has improved so much.
How do you think the evenings have affected some of the community in your circle?
Well, the workshops serve as a place to connect likeminded women in New York… and there was so much interest that we couldn’t fit people in our living rooms anymore! There are so many attendees who just moved to New York, just graduated college or are looking to meet other creatives, so I feel like LDR has had an impact on that. We’re also beginning to plan benefit workshops where we are aim to use Ladies Drawing Night to empower women through creativity and community while raising money to support issues we believe in.
Why specifically -ladies- drawing night? Did you feel like there was missing a sense of artistic community between women in art?
We talk about why just women a lot, and we feel like friendship between women is so important, and this becomes a safe space for everyone involved.