Pennsylvania-based illustrator and designer Laura Moyer has created stunning work for Disney, Pixar and Apple, all from the comfort of her cabin in the woods. We caught up with her to hear how she works remotely and why nature is a constant source of inspiration to her.
Imagine working from the comfort of your home with the natural world on your doorstep whenever you feel like taking a break. Sounds dreamy, right? But for illustrator and designer Laura Moyer, it's a reality that she wouldn't trade for the world.
Although it sounds like she has an ideal setup these days, Laura's journey to secluded creative bliss had a few kinks along the way. Having originally studied elementary education before quickly realising the field wasn't right for her, Laura went back to school for graphic design and pursued a path that felt more authentic to her.
"While working as a graphic designer, I felt the most drawn toward the illustration projects that came through and would wonder, how do I find a way to only work on illustration?" she tells Creative Boom. "I began painting in my spare time and exploring other illustration techniques, taking online classes, and discovering my style."
Eventually, Laura settled on a vector-to-pixel workflow that relies on control, symmetry, and a style that knows when to find the meaningful moments that allow her to break these rules. "I'm inspired by creating flat vector shapes and simplified forms and bringing them to life with light, shadow, and texture," she explains.
"I've found this workflow gives me the control I crave as a designer and the moment of freedom I love as an artist. I love palettes that include bold, happy colours, and my go-to pop of colour is bright red-orange."
In terms of artistic inspiration, Laura looks to the likes of Mary Blair and Alain Grée. "I love the sense of nostalgia I feel when looking at their work and hope to spread that feeling through my work," she says. "I also find their pre-digital workflow inspiring, which impacts how I approach tools and technology.
"It's hard not to be influenced by the latest gadget (hardware or software), but my thought process always goes back to 'mid-century illustrators accomplished what they did without any of this.' It has led me to focus on the tools I know and love and let my style evolve naturally rather than constantly shifting my approach."
If there's one thing mid-century designers didn't have, it's the internet. However, Laura's lifestyle of working remotely would be sunk without it. "I love our home!" she says. "We aren't totally isolated (as much as I wish we were). We have neighbours nearby and live on a mountain ridge in Lancaster County, PA. So we aren't surrounded by thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. But I can go on for a walk in the woods just out my front door and feel inspired, which I am so grateful for.
"That being said, working from home can be hard, no matter how much you love your home. My biggest challenge is that I don't have an office with a door, but I'm so grateful to do what I love while not missing a beat on raising my kids. Again, that dual role is a real challenge, but I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Approaches to working setups have changed a lot in recent years, with many industries becoming less centralised. And the arts, in Laura's opinion, are no exception. "I truly don't think location matters," she says. "I rarely have a call with someone in the same time zone, and many are with people on another side of the world.
"There are advantages to living in places with creative energy, but not all people feel inspired by things like visiting museums or being around other people at all. You just have to find what energises your own creativity. There is no right or wrong way, as long as there is an internet connection."
This doesn't mean working remotely is without its pitfalls, though. It just means you have to take a different approach. "My best advice for working remotely is to make an effort to make connections," Laura reveals. "It is isolating, but only as much as you let it. I'm naturally an introverted person and honestly enjoy the isolation, but making an effort to reach out to colleagues is always so rewarding.
"I've made many friends reaching out for advice or just to chat. Most illustrators are in the same boat and are equally happy to connect. That has been one of my favourite parts of signing with Closer&Closer. While I still work remotely, the sense of community has been amazing."
Regarding working remotely from your home, Laura is keen to point out that what you eat is an important factor to keep in mind, too. "I am not a health nut by any means, but I have learned how much my productivity/focus levels are impacted by what I eat," she adds. "When you are at home and feeling a little tired from an unhealthy meal, it is very easy to get distracted and therefore be less productive. Healthy eating habits directly impact what I accomplish each day."
If there's one thing besides food that's bound to lift Laura's mood, though, it's nature. "Nature is my biggest inspiration, and I need to draw more of it/all of it in my lifetime," she says. "I'm fascinated by everything in the world around us and spend as much time outside as possible. It is where my mind wanders and ponders.
"I find most of my energy and inspiration in researching nature/science and the desire to learn and understand. For example, I was recently tasked with drawing fish and initially felt lost in the subject (which sounds silly, but artistic blocks are). Still, when I decided to focus on a certain region, I felt immediately inspired by the research aspect."
As well as nature, Laura also leans on her graphic design background for creative support. "I used to dabble a lot with hand-painting when working on my style, but craved the control of working digitally regarding both form and colour," she says. "The Photoshop phase of my workflow gives me the same satisfaction as painting, though someday, when I have more time, I would love to return to traditional work.
"I also think my design background is the root of why I love the mid-century vibe, which has played a part in my evolution as an artist. The stylised/flat approach to illustration resonates with my designer mind, and I love creating work that feels 'designerly' while still explorative and unique."
Looking ahead to 2024, Laura is excited to apply her unique creative approach to a very long-term hush-hush project. "Starting most often is the hardest time for me, but once a file or project has begun and feels familiar, I honestly become obsessed with working on it," she explains. "So the fact that I get to keep returning, developing, continuing, and refining this project has been a dream.
"Another extremely meaningful project to me was the Camp Sight series from last year for Borderleap/Apple Arcade. I had a lot of freedom in that project, which was a challenge at first, but an important step in my style development as well as a step toward discovering my artistic voice."
Outside of work, though, Laura's biggest goal is to make more personal work. "The balance between client work while still producing personal work has always been hard for me, but making both a priority is the most fulfilling way to approach my day and career," she concludes. "I'm also thrilled to have signed with Closer & Closer a few months ago and am excited to see where that leads."
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