The Artist’s Studio | Lorene Taurerewa

We were thrilled to interview Lorene Taurerewa for our latest ‘Artist Studio’ feature. Lorene is a New Zealand artist currently living in New York, we asked her some questions about her studio practice and had a peek behind the scenes of her Brooklyn studio…

Is your studio near to or far from where you live?

When I first came to New York I lived in Manhattan and had a small studio space in the 5 Pointz building in Queens. The building was famous for grafitti art, anyone could legally tag and paint in and on the building and it was always crawling with artists. I had to take a train there and back everyday and at some point made the decision to move to Brooklyn and moved my studio there too.

How much time do you spend there during an average week?

I’m in the studio everyday. Most mornings I start with a coffee in a local cafe and I always draw at this time , pen drawings into books. I couldn’t start my day without the drawings first, then I usually walk to a local second hand store called the “Thing” which is filled with the most unusual junk just piled up everywhere. It has this incredible collection of photos and I usually spend an hour going through the polaroids, which I collect. I have some amazing pics, a virtual record of American life and culture from the 70’s and 80’s …which sometimes creep into my work. I’m back in the studio early afternoons and usually work until around 6pm and if I have a deadline then most nights until late. I’m a night owl and so often work all-nighters.

What ‘tools’ do you require to make your work?

I have been drawing very large scale and I always draw onto paper on the walls using charcoal and an eraser. It took a long time to figure the best materials and tools to use, paper quality is always important. I once paid $400 for a roll of paper and discovered I couldn’t erase marks easily as it was printmaking paper, which is made to retain marks and so I was fighting with the paper.  The eraser was also a problem and it took a lot of trial and error to find one that would take the marks off, interestingly, the drawing was very large (120inches x 200inches or 3m x 5m approx) and with all the rubbing, it left a three inch pile of rubber fluff all along the floor under the drawing. So I got to create a new drawing term “rubber fluff”! I also have to climb up to the drawing, I used to stand on a table but I would be so engrossed in the work I often stepped back right off the table! So now I usually use a step ladder! However, I am working with watercolour and oil paint more and more these days and currently working on a sculptural project.

Do you let other people/artists/dealers into your work space or do you prefer privacy?

I’m not really big on letting anyone see my work before it’s finished so I don’t like to let people into the studio. It’s not that I am ‘private’ it’s just that I don’t like to talk about the work while it’s in progress. I always open the doors though to my dealers and curators.

Do you play music while you work? (If so – what’s on your playlist?)

Music is something I don’t usually like when I am starting a new project or when I am working during the day. But at night I usually crank it up! I just made an album cover for a NY jazz musician and LOVING his music! but I like a wide range of music and over this week I tuned in to Judas Priest, Jar of Flies, Bossa Nova, Cubans – Buena Vista Social Club, The Beach Boys, some NY Indie bands and NZ band six60.

What are the three essential elements for your ideal studio?

Because I work late at night, I have to have really good lighting. I am really lucky my studio has north facing windows, so I have excellent natural lighting too. I also can’t work if I don’t have all my materials on hand, it makes me anxious if I have to look for or can’t find something, so I stock up on everything. I’m not into a clean studio as I like things to be where I left them and I use lots of ‘props’ things I collect for my work so the studio gets pretty messy but that’s how I like it.