The Painted Lady: Lauren Stevens

By Danielle LipiecA primal talent can easily turn to a lifelong venture as one begins the journey of adulthood and molding their likes and interests into their livelihoods. This has been the case for Fire Island frequenter Lauren Stevens, who refreshed her love for illustrating in her pursuit to publish her very own adult coloring books.Stevens’ knack for art began as early as she can recall having enough motor skills to hold a crayon. “It was just natural,” she said. Her longtime love for many forms of art, including sculpting, painting with different materials, and drawing, led her to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Parson School of Design in New York City. With this, she began her career in graphic design.As a busy graphic designer swamped with deadlines, Stevens admits that at a point, she had begun to let her drawing capabilities slip. “I’d been letting my drawing skills get rusty because graphic design uses completely different skills,” she said. “You’re chained to a computer designing everything from web sites, to brochures, to a restaurant menu.”That’s when some friends pitched a business idea to her, and her aptitude for illustration had a chance to flourish again. “My friend, Sooki, wanted to start a business with me, and my friend, Dave, said, ‘Hey, you should illustrate adult coloring books, that’s a thing now,” Stevens recalled. “It’s been amazing getting my skills back. Drawing is fun and producing books is good discipline.”And so, the formation of the coloring book company MUSE began. Pioneered by herself and friend Sooki Hwang, the company has begun to self-publish adult coloring books. Featured on MUSE’s website are a handful of free downloadable coloring book pages, biographies on the company’s founders, and a link to purchase MUSE’s coloring books that are available on both Amazon and Etsy.The works Stevens has published varies greatly from book to book, as she and Hwang draw inspiration from many different sources of influence. “Maybe we should be more consistent in our themes, but we can’t help it, we are getting inspiration all over the place!” Stevens said. “Our first book, ‘EPIC MYTHS, The Ancient World’ was inspired by mythology all over the world, not just the Greek myths most people know a bit of. Then we did ‘BIBLE STORIES.’ I can’t claim to be deeply religious but the Old Testament has some rocking stories to illustrate.”On the list of the many places Stevens finds inspiration is none other than Fire Island itself. “Heck yes,” Stevens said when I asked if Fire Island had influenced any of her illustrations. “We all get inspired out here, in a million different ways. I currently have a half-dozen Fire Island-inspired images rolling around in my head, and I look forward to getting them down on paper.” She admits that while she considers Fire Island to be a home, she is a regular renter who often finds herself hanging out at the homes of her resident friends. As an inhabitant of Astoria, Queens, Stevens finds pleasure in the simplicity that Fire Island offers. “I’ve rented houses with friends almost every season for the last quarter-century, and I’m also one of the most successful freeloaders out there. Everyone should always have good friends with beach houses.”Stevens intends on continuing to put out adult coloring books through MUSE, clad with her very own designs and ideas. “I’ve got about 20 different book ideas right now, but only two hands. And only one of those hands actually draws,” Stevens said. With books already out and more on the way this year, it doesn’t appear that this outlet of creativity of hers will cease any time soon.Editor’s Note: Lauren Stevens recently contracted with Fire Island News to supply us with adult coloring page content as a service to our readers. Keep your eye out for her works as a regular feature in this publication.