Interviewed: LAURA LEE GULLEDGE

Laura Lee Gulledge grew up in Virginia and currently lives in New York, just like the main character in her artistic coming-of-age story “Paige by Paige.” This book is her debut YA graphic novel which comes out in May through Abrams Books. She also works in art education, scenic painting, body painting, event production/design, art shows/installations, and street art. Visit her online at whoislauralee.blogspot.com, where she actively posts new art and creative projects.

What comics or art projects are you working on right now?

Let’s see…I’m currently hanging lots of new street art (some wheat pastes and brass etchings) under my alias Karat here in New York. I also just hid 200 easter eggs around the city, imitating a scene in my book. I’ve written a script for a sequel for Page by Paige, but I’ve put it aside for the moment as I wait to see how the first book is received. Then there is another character named Wilhemena (who is kinda a steampunk) who has been waiting in the wings for me to work on her YA graphic novel script already. I’m also developing art lessons based on my own self-art-therapy process, as well as talking with a collaborator about possibly starting an interactive online zine for young women. Phew!

What other artists in your field inspire you?

As a newcomer to the world of comics (I only ready my first graphic novel 4 years ago!) my style developed outside the world of comics. My influences were more like Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, and Rene Magritte. But when I did adapt my work to a comic format, the artists who inspired me were Maira Kalman, Craig Thompson, Liz Prince, David Mack, Jamie Hernandez, and Lynda Barry.

 Do you work out of your home or do you have an office/studio space?

While working on “Page by Paige” I was part of a studio here in Brooklyn with other comic artists (Such as Dean Haspiel and Reilly Brown), which really helped me keep my sanity! But alas I couldn’t afford to stay, so now I’m back to working at my desk in my apartment. Even though it can be lonely, I’ve always worked best at home in my slippers listening to the radio.

What upcoming projects are you most excited about and why?

I have been having a lot of fun lately focusing on projects that promote people’s own individual creativity, artistic community, and celebrating more honest and non-pretentious expressive outlets. People seem to be really yearning for positivity and sincerity in this current culture of cynicism. Especially women, who seem to need a supportive community and a way to express shifting identities now more than ever.

Where do you see comics heading in the next 5 years?

So many things in the industry are in flux right now, so to me it seems like it’s a great opportunity for more experimental and outside-the-box projects to be sneak in. People are adapting but no one really knows what will happen…perhaps this will make people more open-minded. If I am any indication, I can there being an influx of creative refugees from other artistic fields (such as illustration, street art, fine art, film, etc) bringing fresh aesthetic perspectives and influences to the world of comics.

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