Shiela Laufer is an illustrator, painter and printmaker hailing from Pennsylvania, now living in Portland. Her signature pastel color way and abstract geometry is reflective of her own charm and earnestness. We spoke about curiosity as a gateway to inspiration and the importance of being involved in your local design scene.
DWP: Where do you fit in the larger Portland design scene?
Shiela: My involvement has been primarily as an observer. It’s been exciting to collaborate with friends who have found success in the world of design. As an image maker, the opportunity to see something I’ve made elevated through a new context, be it print or installation, is very rewarding.
DWP: What was the artistic background of your childhood? How did that influence where you're at now?
Shiela: I’ve enjoyed making things since I was a little kid. I’m deeply influenced by the rural landscape of Pennsylvania where, as a child, I spent my time building forts, drawing pictures, and reading stories. This disposition toward making was encouraged by my parents and I was fortunate enough to come to Oregon to get my degree in printmaking. The community of artists I’ve found since moving to Portland has greatly influenced my personal practice. I’ve been motivated and encouraged by watching my friends pursue their crafts and I don't believe I’d be where I am now if I didn’t have such a community.
DWP: What's the future look like?
Shiela: One of the things I value most about making any kind of work is how it keeps me curious. I see “art making” as a way of learning, whether it’s through research for the work itself or because it brings new people into my life. I hope that my path as an artist continues to foster and fulfill this curiosity. Ultimately I hope it takes me to a farmhouse somewhere near the coast of Oregon.
DWP: Have you had any recent struggles in your craft? Can you speak to those?
Shiela: One of my creative struggles has been attempting to marry my printmaking practice to my painting and drawing practice. For a long time, print work would feel really disconnected from my drawings as if they had been made by different people. I wanted to work across mediums but also create in a way where the medium itself felt intentional in the work. I feel like I’m finally getting to a place where my modes of working feel unified.
DWP: Have you attended Design Week Portland before? What has you excited?
Shiela: I have! For me, the highlight of Design Week Portland is simply the opportunity to dedicate a whole week to celebrate the design community. Like any job, being in the studio can be tiresome or lonely and it can be difficult to see what’s going on around you when you have your head down. Design Week Portland provides a space for the community to gather.
DWP: What is one thing you're inspired by right now?
Shiela: Right now I’m really inspired by knitwear. There is something very earnest about simple sweaters and socks that gives me hope.
To see the full array of Shiela's work, check her out here: