Studio Visit: Lauren Simkin Berke


A few weeks ago I was itching to do another studio visit. I randomly picked up a book that was on our counter to be re-shelved. It was a local Brooklyn artist, Lauren Berke. I had never met Lauren, but I have admired their work since the old days of the project. Lucky for us, Lauren was in one of the first Sketchbook Projects back in 2007. I sent Lauren a quick email, only to realize that they lived just 2 blocks from the library. Lauren agreed to let me come by for a quick afternoon chat. 

When I say Lauren had an amazing studio, I don't mean amazing, I mean AMAZING. The entire apartment was filled with inspiration. Books were organized on shelves,miniature characters lined the window sills, and tools were hung neatly on a peg board. Room to room, I felt a spark of excitement. It's like getting to look into Lauren's mind. It is a literal interpretation of Lauren's work. I feel so lucky to have such amazing artists in our collection and just around the corner. Read more about Lauren's work below:

BONUS SIDE NOTE: Lauren is having a show this August in Brooklyn! You can find out info about here:

1. Tell us about yourself!

I am a Brooklyn based artist, and a native New Yorker. I work mostly as an editorial illustrator, drawing for clients such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Smithsonian Magazine, though I do other types of illustration as well. I try to exhibit fine art work every few years. I have a show coming up this August at A.I.R. Gallery and I publish art books under the name Captain Sears Press. 

2. What made you do The Sketchbook Project?

I’ve kept sketchbooks regularly since I was quite young, and have contributed to three incarnations of The Sketchbook Project. I’ve participated in part, because I wanted to support an organization that promotes sketchbook use by anyone and everyone. Creating books for The Sketchbook Project has also allowed me to curate books that have their own structure and logic, beyond what I allow in my daily sketchbooks.

3. Any advice for people considering doing the project?

Stop considering and just do it (I can’t imagine they’ll be disappointed).

4. How did your sketchbook relate to your other creative projects?

My sketchbooks are at the center of pretty much every part of my life. I’ve kept sketchbooks continuously since I was 12 or 13, and I’ve been binding my own sketchbooks for 9 years. Every day I write down the date and make a to-do list. Between 2006 and 2016 I had a daily practice of doing freehand ink drawings based on found photographs, and I used those drawings as the subject in creating a variety of art objects (paintings, collages, etchings, etc.). I no longer stick to a specific daily drawing regiment, but when I do ink drawings for the express purpose of translating the drawing into some aspect of my personal work, I do them in my sketchbook. I actually think of my sketchbooks as my primary artistic practice, though when I exhibit work I’m showing pieces that extended out of what was created in them.

5. What is your spirit animal?

My spirit animal is a hedgehog.



Steven Peterman