In Residence

See how one acclaimed artist brings some 'magic' into her daily routine

On this week's Exhibitionists, Lauren Tamaki shares her sketchbook of GIFs. Her animation captures everyday details and her favourite pop culture moments.

Lauren Tamaki shares her animated sketchbook on this week's episode of Exhibitionists

"Animation is magic," says Lauren Tamaki, and that's especially true when the subject is Prince. (Lauren Tamaki)

Lauren Tamaki jokes that she's a victim of the "New York mentality." Every day is the same routine: she wakes up in her Brooklyn apartment, downs some Earl Grey and starts drawing — working on assignments from 10 in the morning to 11 at night.

"I know I should read a self help article about work-life balance," she laughs, "but I love it so much." And going off her enviable list of clients, people love the work right back.

If you read the New York Times, GQ, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal (please find dozens more examples via her website), you know her style. Think zippy pencil illustrations that recall those Quentin Blake drawings in The Witches and The Twits when she's at her most energetic (he's one of her top inspirations) — but blooming with a springtime palette of acrylic ink.

You want to have as much magic as possible in your life.- Lauren Tamaki , artist

Raised in Calgary, the 34-year-old now splits her time between New York and Toronto, and she's this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. But what you'll see on the show was never originally intended for the airwaves.

Hell, they were only ever made for one person: her.

They're "sketchbook stuff," she explains. "And the great thing about a sketchbook is you're just doing it to amuse yourself."

"When I sit down to do my own stuff it's fashion, or it's things that I'm observing around the neighbourhood," says Tamaki, who studied fashion design at Ryerson University and visual communications at ACAD before becoming a full-time illustrator — and her fanciful pictures of runway collections and Park Slope life are a frothy mainstay of her Instagram and Tumblr.

GIFs are increasingly making their way into the mix, and her animation takes a similar, observational bent.

They reflect what she's binge-watching (please see the GIF of a ping-pong playing Lena Dunham), or what she's discovering online (Prince doing the splits).

About that last one: "You can't capture that with a still," she says. "I just wanted to capture that!" And the finished product is a hand-painted, animated tribute to the Purple One in action.

"I don't really do panel work or comics or anything like that, so [making GIFs] is a really interesting way to explore short narrative. Short narratives of tulips being in love and it's tragic!" she laughs. "Or a peony just exploding."

In addition to a variety of editorial assignments, Tamaki is also in the middle of illustrating several new books, and she hopes to compile some of her fashion illustrations in a publication of her own in the near-ish future.

And when she has a spare moment in her 13-hour days, she'll also be making GIFs.

"Animation is just magic," says Tamaki. "That's just it. You want to have as much magic as possible in your life."

Check out some of her work.

Watch Exhibitionists online or on Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) on CBC Television.

About the Author

Leah Collins

Leah Collins is the Senior Writer at CBC Arts.