By SteamLine Founder, Sara Banks

Lauren and I met when friends of mine told me about this American girl living in Ireland (as was I!) that I just had to meet. Over our first coffee, we immediately fell into friend mode. Her bright demeanor, charm, and natural affection for laughing made me feel we could hang out all the time and possibly even work together! I love collaborating with artists and people I am inspired by—needless to say, Lauren fits the bill in every way. 

As a self-taught American artist and illustrator based in Ireland, Lauren started her first business, Lauren Taylor Creates, as a way to manifest her dream to travel the world and create inspiring artwork along the way. Now she runs a boutique tour company, LTCreative Tours, with her handsome fireman husband, James, created to provide bespoke tours of Ireland for those who seek inspiration, adventure, and connection. And most recently she started an online paint course "Just Paint" that I am dying to take! You might have seen her illustrations in the children’s book Tales of Wonder or on her sister’s dresses for Julia Berolzheimer

Above all, Lauren is an incredible painter whom we were honored to have design the latest original SteamLine Prints for our new Illustrator collection, named especially for the beautiful artist behind them.

Please enjoy my conversation with Lauren Taylor!

 Our Pink Illustrator Hatbox with the daughter of Over the Moon founder, Alexandra Macon. 

Congratulations on adding another wing to your businesses! Your ‘Just Paint’ course looks so attractive and enticing. It began because you are driven to help people tap into their own creativity, especially those who might lack confidence in this area. As a self-taught artist, when did you start tapping into your own painting skills? Was painting something that was always in your life? Please, tell us about your own artist journey. 

Thank you! It is so satisfying to share watercolor painting with others and especially to see people who never painted before or never thought they were creative fall in love with watercolors and create beautiful paintings. 

My artistic journey started with painting as a hobby. I’ve painted since I was really young. It was always something that I loved doing. In college I ended up studying business and then going into a job that was a bit more “practical”, but always painted on the side. I took a watercolor class after college and fell in love with the medium. Eventually I really wanted to travel and as I prepared to head to South America I was painting more and more. I had started an Etsy for fun way back in college so I was already selling a few paintings here and there and then began selling prints. I realized that was something I could do while traveling (watercolors are very easy to travel with!).

I set up my website and blog and left for South America! I traveled and painted everywhere I went. That was eight years ago. Back then I focused more on fashion illustration as that was really popular at the time. Over time I’ve honed my craft, painted hundreds of commissions, worked on some really cool illustration projects and developed my current style of botanicals and landscapes. In 2020 we launched LTCreative Tours offering untaught tours around the northern half of Ireland for artists and creatives as a way to marry my love of art and travel. Last year I launched Just Paint, and like I said, it’s been absolutely incredible connecting and painting with hundreds of people. It definitely hasn’t always been smooth or easy, but being an artist is so rewarding.

You grew up in California in a family of creative business women—your sister also has a successful business around her designs and personal style. Was entrepreneurship part of your early discussions growing up? Did you always know you wanted to have your own company? 

No, I wouldn’t say entrepreneurship really crossed my mind growing up. Seeing my sister start her blog in college and work really hard to create her own business definitely made me feel that I could also pursue something out of the box. I’ve always loved painting but never saw any successful female artists. All you would hear about was the “starving artist” and that didn’t sound very enjoyable! I think when Instagram started to blow up and all of these illustrators and artists began sharing their work, I realized I could do that too and I did. It’s been amazing to have this platform for people to see and connect with my artwork. I’ve been running Lauren Taylor Creates and painting full time for eight years and I absolutely love what I do.

How did your family foster this natural creativity of your and your sisters? (I’m taking parenting tips!)

My mom was always a big advocate for us to express ourselves creatively. She had art supplies out all the time when we were really little and she has always been my biggest cheerleader with all of my creative pursuits. She’s naturally such a great storyteller, so we must get the creative gene from her! 

Let’s talk about travel! As you know, I come from a family of travelers; my father traveled for work, my mother traveled for passion, my sister is only just back in the US after having spent the last 10 years in Africa, and my brother is currently living in Colombia. (And I wrote this from Mauritius but am publishing from Bali!) When did you first start stretching your travel wings? 

My grandparents traveled a lot, for work and pleasure, and I always loved hearing about their adventures. It must have been their stories that made me want to explore the world because I remember being obsessed with the idea of visiting Paris when I was in the second grade and poring over National Geographic and atlases planning future travels. I ended up moving away to Hawaii for college (I’m from California), and when I was in college I studied abroad in Spain. Traveling around Spain and Europe was when travel really opened up to me. I realized people backpacked and travel didn’t have to be fancy or overly expensive. A few years later I booked a one way ticket alone to Buenos Aires and backpacked around South America. That’s where I met my Irish husband and how I ended up in Ireland!

Lauren's inspiring Maya Angelou Map Print available in her shop.

And most importantly, how did you find Ireland and when did you decide to make it your home?

Like I said, I met my husband James backpacking in South America. We met at a hostel in Valparaiso, Chile. We traveled for several months together and then he had to go back to Ireland (where he’s from) and I eventually went back to the States. We did long distance for a few years and I visited for several months at a time until we got engaged. I moved over here permanently in 2017. I loved Ireland from the first time I visited. I love the landscape, the people and the culture. It’s wildly inspiring as an artist, I could just sit and watch the sky change for hours.

As an expat living in Ireland, I think we are allowed interesting perspectives on our birth home countries and adopted home countries. What is keeping you in Ireland, and what do you miss about home? (Or not miss?)

I just love the landscape here so much. We are so fortunate to have amazing hikes, the water and all these lovely places near us. I find so much inspiration here and I’m always amazed with what new things I’m discovering—I love it! I will say though, I miss my family. I keep trying to convince them all to move here. I also miss Mexican food!

 At Castle Roche, a 1236 AD Norman castle in County Louth, Ireland.

Years ago, I took a painting class that literally changed the way I viewed the natural world. I was painting very close to the canvas, with my fingers trying to control the paintbrush like a pencil and focusing on trying to copy the still life in front of me as I thought it should look. The instructor pulled my hand back to the very end of the paintbrush and told me to look at the scene loosely, at the color blocks, and the picture as a whole, the shadows and light. I spent the subsequent hours after class, wandering around the neighborhood, not seeing the trees as trees but seeing the patterns of the shadows and light around me. It was the most incredible shift in perspective I have ever felt. (And recently in Mauritius, a pottery class provided a similar and much-needed sea change.) Have you ever experienced a shift like this? And can you talk about the artist's perspective? How does your craft change the way you see the world? 

Yes yes yes! I am always watching the way the light changes, the clouds… It is definitely one of my absolute favorite things. I think especially painting outside, it forces you to really see. You’re looking at the same scene for so long you start to notice all the small shifts and changes. A tiny pocket of light would easily go unnoticed if you were taking a photo or walking by. I constantly look at the landscape like it’s a potential painting!

Painting is such a wonderful way for many to relax and unwind. As it is also your profession, how do you unwind? Or do you feel like I assume you must, in nailing a wonderful balance of doing exactly what you love! Truly you seem to be living the perfectly balanced dream.

I do feel so so fortunate to get to do what I love! I don’t think anyone has the perfect balance; sometimes running a business seems to take over for sure. Spending time in nature is my way to unwind. I love to explore new places, go for walks, hikes, and spend time on the water. Being outside definitely is my happy place. 

In her element. Although an American expat, Lauren Taylor has become something of a poster child for Ireland's natural beauty.

What are your goals for this year? Covid changed everyone’s plans, but now that we are able to get back to a little more normalcy, what dreams are top of mind? And are there any lessons you will take with you from the pandemic? 

One thing I took from the pandemic is to slow down and pay more attention to the small things in life. There is so much beauty around us, but we move so fast it’s really easy to miss. Things have definitely picked up since 2020 but I’m still trying to focus more on slowing down and enjoying the process rather than just the end result and moving onto the next thing. One goal of mine is to paint outside more. I’ve been sourcing beautiful Irish linen to paint landscapes on, and I can’t wait to share a bit more as I work away on the pieces. And of course, looking forward to more travel!

Tell us about the designs in the Illustrator collection! The wildflowers of the Blue Illustrator were florals from your own wedding in Ireland. (As The Sweetheart’s illustration was inspired by my wedding flowers!) What were your inspirations for both these illustrations? Your botanical prints are truly so beautifully timeless and elegant. I was so proud to read Vogue speaking so highly of the collab!

Me too! And there are so many different directions to go with florals, so pulling inspiration from my wedding flowers felt really special! After my wedding I wanted to remember the beautiful flowers we had, so I painted them, and that ended up being the inspiration for the Blue Illustrator collection! I love vintage botanical illustration, so that’s what inspired the final look for the blue design. We thought it would be fun to do another colorway so with similar flowers in mind, I did a pink colorway as well. This one is a bit more playful with the all-over pattern. I love that we went with both the blue and pink and that the two prints have unique styles but the flowers and stripes are similar!

 The Blue Illustrator Hatbox.

We talk a lot about sustainability here in SLL, and as our luggage is made for lifetime, I think that the new bridal collection really celebrates this idea of heirloom luggage—keepsake items that would make for the perfect bridal trousseau, as well as celebrate a lifetime of travel, which our Illustrator launch with Over the Moon illustrates so well! We have discussed that they would make gorgeous bridal party gifts as well—as you hope to do for your sister’s wedding in December. Do you have any keepsake or heirlooms that are important to you? 

They’re definitely such beautiful heirloom pieces, and I think the Hatbox, Vanity or Mini are the most charming bridesmaids gifts! Perfect for the bachelorette party and getting ready for the big day! My favorite heirloom piece I have is a beautiful ornate silver ring that’s from my great grandma, my grandma’s mom. I never got to meet her, but everyone in our family says we are alike—over the top, fun and a bit eccentric! 

What is your take on what we call The SteamLine Effect, i.e., how you feel when traveling with SteamLine? And how do you feature SteamLine at Home, meaning how do you repurpose or even just display your cases between trips? 

Yes, I absolutely LOVE my SteamLine luggage. It really makes travel a lot more fun. I get so many compliments on my luggage while I’m traveling, and it’s just more enjoyable to have something that’s special and beautiful. After flying for so many hours it’s nice to feel a bit more put together when you’re arriving at your destination. Plus, the fun luggage covers that keep your checked luggage clean during transport also make it super easy to pick out your luggage off the arrival belt!

I think the luggage is so beautiful, so I have my Blue Illustrator cases stacked up in our family room between trips. I get so many compliments from everyone who comes over. I also use the Minis all the time as purses. They’re just too pretty to tuck away! 

Botanical Lauren Taylor prints in progress alongside her Hunter Green Diplomat Mini and SteamLine Travel Journal

You have been a longtime friend of SteamLine. Can you share with us your story about what it was like the first time you traveled with SteamLine?

The first trip ​​I took my Green Diplomat Stowaway case was on our honeymoon to South Africa. We traveled for three weeks visiting Cape Town, driving the Garden Route and going on safari in Kruger National Park. It was the perfect size case because we rented a car for part of the trip and everything needed to fit in the tight trunk. Since we were on the go, constantly packing up and moving around it was nice to have a case that fit everything I needed and also set up easily in our room. I loved taking my SteamLine case on my honeymoon! I mean, what feels more honeymoon or more safari than having a beautiful vintage inspired suitcase to take along?! So it felt very fitting indeed to join forces with you on a bridal collection that is designed to take you from honeymoon through all the chapters of life.

Over The Moon's Alex Macron toting her son and Pink Illustrator Hatbox. Photo by @annerhettphotography for @overthemoon.  


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