Traveling muralist Lauren Asta made it her goal to create in as many places as possible when she began her tour in 2016. This summer, Asta will check Michigan off of her list with a project she will complete in downtown East Lansing.
Asta, who specializes in doodle-art and murals, will begin working in East Lansing in July and hopes to complete the project in about a month. She will be covering a 22-feet-tall by 56-feet-wide wall located between Jolly Pumpkin’s upcoming East Lansing location and Pinball Pete’s.
“I'm just super excited to feel that energy of being in a college town again,” Asta said. “There's always good, creative imagination and conversation that flows in towns like that.”
Asta’s career as a muralist began in 2016. She had graduated college with a degree in photography and was trying to make her way into the business post-graduation. After running into some roadblocks, she started to pursue the next creative outlet she knew and loved — doodling.
Asta would showcase her work in art shows where people would purchase it, while also working at a distillery in California. After a normal day of work, Asta noticed an unfinished wall by the brewery next door. Picturing the blank cement as her canvas, Asta approached the brewery and asked if she could paint the wall. They said yes and gave her 30 days.
“I just had this urge and desire that my art could just be translated on a bigger scale,” Asta said. “I somehow just dove right in 3,000 square feet and finished it within a month. No sketch, no grid, no projector — just freestyle everything and something just really clicked inside.”
From that “click,” she packed her bags and left her job, home and everything she knew in California to begin traveling and working in as many places as she could. Since then, Asta has created art in Chicago, New York and beyond, all of which are done free-hand.
She’ll walk into a project with abstract messages she plans to show throughout her work and to begin painting, she starts with the eyes of her characters. From there, she creates the noses, mouths and words all while making sure everything is in scale.
But it’s more than just characters and faces. Asta said her work is sometimes compared to “Where’s Waldo,” because she hides small messages in between the lines, largely inspired by what she learns about the community while working there.
“I do everything freestyle, so that really makes the public piece really special for the environment and place because while I'm there, I might pick up on certain lingo the town or city uses, or I might be inspired by something nearby,” Asta said. “It will really be specific to the area and something hopefully people will have a positive, creative inspiration from.”
Asta’s personal inspiration comes from not only the town she creates in, but the people around her, which she said is her favorite part about doing public art.
“It's a really exciting time for me to be able to connect with an audience live,” Asta said. “I know a lot of people do have this idea that they don't want to disturb the artists, or they don't want to come and say hi, but I completely welcome it … I’m always down for that connection.”
East Lansing Art Festival and Art Initiatives Heather Majno voiced excitement to add another piece of public art to the East Lansing community in a press release.
“We are excited to have an artist of Asta’s caliber come to East Lansing to create a piece of public art that will be enjoyed by our community for many years to come,” Majano said in the release. “The City’s Percent for Art program has resulted in a growing collection of public art around the community, and we are excited to be able to add one of Asta’s murals to that collection.”