Surf Art / Lauren Roth

Kailua Artist + Female Powerhouse

Story and photos by Alexandra Kahn

It’s hard to categorize Lauren Roth as an artist because what she has accomplished thus far in her young career would classify her as an art-focused businesswoman. A few words used to describe her include: cheery, determined, inspiring, focused, and confident. To start, Roth is only 34 years old and has collaborated with brands such as Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Nautica, Rip Curl and local Hawai’i brands like Fighting Eel and Lanikai Juice.

“How do you make contact with all of these big companies?” Freesurf Magazine asked Roth. “They find me! Rip Curl found me through some of my work on display at a gallery in town.” As an artist, getting that big break is the only thing separating a talented, passionate creative from a being a success or a flop. Roth is grateful for her good luck.

In November, Roth opened her gallery alongside her husband who manages the business side of things. Her gallery is located on some of Kailua’s prime real estate, proving her success as an artist and businesswoman. The gallery is not only full of paintings ranging in color, medium, size, and style, but she has also transposed her creative work onto products such as bags, journals, t-shirts, pillow covers, coasters, and postcards, to name a few. Her recent collaboration with Rip Curl adds bathing suits, hats, and dresses to the list.

The good vibes are contagious upon entering her gallery. The colorful shapes are soothing, inspired by the beautiful nature of the Hawaiian Islands. Some of her work has a fantasy element to it, while other pieces bridge the gap between painted-pattern and painted-object, which explains why she transferred her designs on to so many unconventional products. The gallery is spacious, bright, and aesthetically pleasing, displaying her work as well as that of other talented artists.

“The featured artists at the gallery rotate every few months. When I decided to open the gallery, I knew that would be a huge part of the concept. I really wanted to create a space for artists, mostly up-and-coming, to also share their work. It was something that really helped me get started early on, and I wanted to create that same opportunity for others. So far, we have had two rounds of featured artists. The first time we featured three [artists], and currently have two in there now. It’s also a fun way to engage the community by hosting a ‘Meet the Artists’ event every few months.”

Roth moved to Hawai’i from New Jersey in 2008 when she accepted a transfer position during her role as a Whole Foods artist. This was just one of many opportunities that brought her to today’s success. Stepping into the art studio, which is connected to her home in Kailua, the same happy feeling of her gallery returns. Drawings of various colors cover the room. A desk sits in one corner entirely covered in paint, and the desk chair has been used hundreds of times to wipe off paint-covered brushes and fingertips.For as long as she can remember, art was her passion and her plan — often the two key elements of being a successful businessperson. She was persistent and stuck to a path that allowed her to pursue her passion, even though she never received formal business training. Despite some bumps and bruises along her way, determination and a friendly demeanor certainly helped pave the way. Being an entrepreneur is never easy, regardless of what the business entails. Freesurf was curious about how her great success at such a young age has shaped her:

“[Art] is such a big part of me and very personal, but it is also my business and livelihood, so it can sometimes be a tricky balance. Learning to not take things personally, or to just keep my head up and stay focused on my ideas and goals, took some time. I would say one of the hardest parts was learning the business end of things and keeping up with that, plus every other thing that comes along with running a business alone; that was, and still can be, exhausting.”

As her life changed, so did her artistic style. She finds influence in her surroundings; the work she produces changes in color, mood, and subject, depending on her location. However, she maintains consistent with a whimsical theme. While nature inspires most of her current art, all of her painting occurs within her studio. She always carries a sketchbook and camera phone to capture inspiration, but the magic happens at her colorful, paint-covered desk.

What’s next for Lauren Roth? She tells Freesurf, “In the long term I would like to continue to expand my home décor line to include more designs and more products like bedding, etc.” Additionally, she is pleased to be opening a second gallery in Japan which will expand the exposure of her work, as Japan is a place where she spends much of her time and has contributed to much of her artistic success.

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