We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Mayer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I have never been a fan of people saying to, “Never give up.” “Keep trying it will happen one day!” Now I am not saying that working towards your goals won’t come with some hardships and that you should abandon things once they become difficult. But I am saying that sometimes your goals change as you grow as a person and you may end up not even wanting the original thing you set out for in the first place. For example, I starred in my first play when I was five years old and was hooked immediately. From there I went to a middle school for acting, a high school for acting, and eventually went on to get my BFA in Acting, which led me to LA. Anyone will tell you the acting biz is a tough one, and although I loved and still do love acting, I very much disliked the business side of things. It wore me down mentally and physically. My self esteem plummeted rejection after rejection, and I found my passion for acting fading as the years went by, to the point that I wasn’t even excited when I got auditions anymore. But I kept telling myself for years that I should “never give up” even at the cost of my own happiness. I was so hard on myself to “keep trying”, that I stopped questioning if what I was desperately trying for was even something I still wanted. It wasn’t until about three years ago when I had an honest conversation with myself about whether I even wanted to continue this trajectory in the first place. I allowed myself to consider other ventures in my life that interested me that I hadn’t allowed myself to do because of the shame I would feel by having to admit to myself that I had “given up” I started making comics (@iffydrawings) as an outlet to deal with this stress and found I really enjoyed it! This led me to discovering my love for digital art, which led me to where I am right now in my life, currently animating and working freelance jobs to get by! I am still so new to digital art and animation and sometimes it can be scary and overwhelming, but I have already seen a return on my work and I never would have even known I was capable of doing what I do today had I not “given up”. Truth is, I don’t feel like I gave up. Quite the opposite, really. I feel more proud of myself than ever before because in reality, I didn’t give up on myself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
2017 was a pretty challenging year for me. Politics and impending doom aside, I dealt with a heavy heartbreak, a falling out with friends, and being at a place in my career that left me defeated and motionless. This led me to spending the majority of my free time crying on my couch. Because of these things, the way I viewed myself hit a pretty solid low. I lost what was left of my confidence and self-worth. That’s when I took a big step back. I realized all the things that made me happy and feel good about myself were external: boys, friends, whether or not I book a job. I realized that was not sustainable. I stopped dating, stopped going out, stopped drinking (just kidding I drank a lot more) and decided to find out what I, MYSELF can do to make me happy again. So I started drawing. I figured if I was gonna sit on my ass being depressed watching cartoons, I might as well make some. Mind you, I had never drawn before. Doodling in class was the most I had on my resume, so I started with stick figures. Something about putting my insecurities in colorful little characters made everything seem a little less overwhelming. Drawing became my own way of meditating and quieting my mind when it wouldn’t be. Out of this came iffy, my character and the star of all my comics on @iffydrawings. All of my anxieties and vulnerabilities and neurosis compressed into a tiny little pink haired stick figure. She honestly brought me back to life. I started sharing her on instagram and found that people resonated with her. Win-win! I got to use this outlet to help deal with my deteriorating mental health, and people reached out to me thanking me for talking about it so openly. I have never been shy about discussing mental health. I have dealt with depression and anxiety throughout my entire life, personally and with family. I wanted to make mental health less taboo and for people to feel free to talk about without feeling stigmatized or judged, while also adding levity to it. That is still an on going goal. We as a society, at least in the US, don’t deal with mental health issues very well, and it can make people who suffer with them feel like they can’t talk about it or that they are alone in dealing with it. I want to have people know that it is much more common than we think and that there is no shame in talking about it. It’s just about finding a way that works for you. And for me, it’s my comics.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh fun! I love making itineraries! Considering we can’t travel nearly as much I would like to, this is a treat! Let’s say they arrive on a Monday: I would pick them up from the airport and drop the bags off at home on the east-side. She’d probably be hungry, so I would take her to one of my favorite spots in Los Feliz, Alcove. They make excellent drinks and who doesn’t love a good cheese tower on a patio? From there, I would walk with her around the neighborhood cuz it’s just so darn lovely, with the ultimate goal of ending up at Jeni’s icecream shop and ignore my dairy allergy. I’d call it an early night and have a drink at my local bar, Franklin & Company. Tuesday would be beach day, I like to avoid weekend crowds, Manhattan Beach being one of my favorite beach towns! I love love love Manhattan Beach because it makes a beach day so much less stressful! No worries about having to pack a cooler or look for bathrooms. You can spend the whole day there and not run out of anything to do! Shop, eat lunch, bask in the sun, play volleyball, or watch hot people play volleyball. What more can you ask for? We’d stay until sun set and then head back to the east side. Probably grab some In-N-Out on the way back to break up the traffic time. That night I would take her to a show at UCB Franklin and have a beer or two at Birds next door, to give her a view of my old stomping grounds. Wednesday would be a nice day to get a pretty hike in. One of my favorites being the Eaton Canyon Falls Trail. It’s not too hard (as long as it’s not too hot) and at the very end of it, you’re met with a beautiful waterfall you can wade into depending on the season. I’d have packed a picnic basket so we can sit and enjoy it. Then hike back and head home for a shower. I’d definitely want to make it to the Griffith Observatory that evening to watch the sun set on the grass lawn. Then have a nice night in the observatory, one of my favorite museums to visit. Now Thursday. Day trip day. I always say that my favorite thing about living in LA is the fact that it’s in California. LA is close to so many beautiful national parks and cities and it is so wonderful to have whatever nature you’re in the mood for available to you. Personally I love a little Palm Springs/Joshua Tree mash up, so we’d wake up early, spend the day at Joshua Tree, and crash that night in Palm Springs, being sure to book a place with a hot tub, of course. Friday we check out after a little pool time and head back to LA. I’m not a huge fan of noisy bars and clubs where I can’t have a conversation, especially if it’s a friend from out of town, but I still love being around people. For that, Malibu Wines is perfect! I’d want to get there a couple hours before sunset to enjoy the view and picnic, and stay until they kick us out. The more the merrier for this night as well! Saturday is of course for Brunching, and yes, with a capital B. I’d have to take her somewhere trendy where we can dress up and pretend we’re fancy, and I am a big fan of Openaire at The Line Hotel in Koreatown. Such a beautiful place and the food is so yummy, and indulging in a truffled lobster eggs benedict sounds good to me. I like to be outside as much as possible, so a Saturday at the Huntingon Botanical Gardens is a perfect day. And of course, we’d have to participate in tea at the Rose Garden Tea room. We’ll be dressed up after all. Which leads us to Saturday night. I can’t pass up a Saturday night bar hopping in downtown LA. It’s just the best. Whatever vibe you’re looking for is available. You wanna chat and drink fancy whiskey, Seven Grand it is. You wanna have a perfect cocktail minus a crown, check out Bar Clacson (specifically the espresso martini). Fancy a roof top? Perch it is! Probably grab one of those giant brats on the street to soak up the drinks for dinner. Sunday is for nursing hangovers. Us 30 somethings need a day to recover now. We would sleep in, and then wake up and head to the Hollywood market. They have so many fun food options and pretty things to look at. I can spend a couple hours at the market. And since we’re in Hollywood already, I guess I would show her Hollywood Blvd. But only because we’re there. Other wise, I always tell my friends, it is not really that impressive. I would want to end her week with a lovely sushi dinner. Although I prefer my local spot, Lemon Fish, I would do a pricier sushi dinner at SugarFish in Hollywood for her to have that experience and it still is delicious. Sundays would be less busy and more of a chance to get a seat. We’d end the night watching a movie at Arclight in Hollywood, bringing in a bottle of wine we purchase, and then head home. Monday I’d send her butt to the airport in an uber because lets be honest, it’s been a busy week.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I couldn’t possibly express how grateful I am for the support system I have in my life. Every single person in it that I hold dear, has pushed me and believed in me and picked me up on my worst days, and I can absolutely acknowledge that I would not be the person I am today without them. But if I have to mention just a one, I have to give that spot to my parents, Larry and Lilia. I don’t even think I have as much faith in myself as my parents do in me! Since I was a child, they recognized that I had a ton of creativity bubbling inside of me, and they allowed me to explore that. They never questioned my big dreams of going into a creative field, and fully supported me through college. They have never put any pressure on me to “get a real job” because they only care about my happiness. My parents are the ones I call when I feel down. They are the ones that are the first to share my work. They are the ones that comment on literally everything I post. They are the ones that I think of when I am too hard on myself. They are always there for me in any way, shape, or form, at any time of day. I can’t express how grateful I am for them. Shout-out to my therapist, though.