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August 01, 2018

Five Questions with Laurie Rosenwald: Artist, Designer, and Workshop Holderer

Workshop “Holderer” is Laurie Rosenwald’s term for what she does, and it gives you a glimpse of who she is: gloriously irreverent, slightly shocking, and totally inspiring.

Laurie is the principal of rosenworld, a design, illustration, and animation studio. She is a painter, and she is an author. Her most recent book is All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and she collaborated with David Sedaris on his animated app of David’s Diary.

Her crazy-popular workshop (of which she is the “holderer”) is on “How to Make Mistakes on Purpose”, and she’s taught people around the world how to surprise themselves with “happy accidents.”

We can’t wait to meet her when she joins us as a speaker at the In/Visible Talks conference this coming January.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“That’s like asking what is my relationship to bacteria. It’s crawling all over me! My Mistakes workshop has been rather successful, and it’s not what you think it is. It’s not ‘inspirational’ and about accepting your mistakes and stuff, it’s NOT a creativity workshop. It’s supremely PRACTICAL. Trying to be creative works about as well as trying to be charming. If I’m not surprising myself, no wonder I’m boring you.”

How or where to you find inspiration?

“I don’t know what that is, but I like hot wax or fabric paint mixed with pigment. And I like Netflix. I watch Toast of London while I work, and I watch University Challenge, Only Connect, and Q.I.: Quite Interesting on YouTube. Also I like to get drunk. I might be British. Call me.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“Shortly before my debut appearance, my father made an alabaster sculpture of my nude mother holding a nude baby. But of course they couldn’t know, in those days, what sex it would be, so he gave the baby a penis. (Because you can take it off, but you can’t put it on.) And right after my birth (when I realized I needed to be in a creative field), my mother heard ‘Chip, chip, chip’ in the backyard of our summer house in Menemsha. I still think the baby looks a bit male around the shoulders.”

What drives you to create?

“My adorable Finnish bike, my jopo. On Valentine’s Day 2014, I came out to the world as a Bikesexual; I am in love with my own bicycle. This I posted with pride on Facebook. In fact, I also came out as polyamorous, as I have two jopos. They’re the same model, the classic 24. I have a white one in New York and a black one in Sweden.”

Who is one of your heroes and why?

“ONE? I wholly believe in Animation, and consider it my bona fide organized religion. The ghost of Chuck Jones is my God. His magnificent creations Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and What’s Opera, Doc? are sacred canon to me. Tex Avery (crucial in the evolution of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck) and Jay Ward (Fractured Fairy Tales, Rocky & Bullwinkle) are my Holy Apostles. In this, my chosen faith, I revere many brilliant creators, among them Saul Steinberg, Jacques Tati, Paul Rand, William Steig, Stuart Davis, Al Hirschfeld, Nancy Mitford, Joseph Mitchell, Will Cuppy, Tina Fey, Larry David, and Matt Berry. P.G. Wodehouse is my therapist. He’s dead, but still takes my insurance.”

BONUS ROUND: What is your favorite digital or nondigital tool?

“Tulip 41401 Dimensional Fabric Paint in Slick Black, beeswax, and an Insultab 30-VT1100 Variable Temperature Control Heat Gun. And a Mac. I’m learning Procreate. (Don’t laugh.) Also, I like forks.”