Lauren Lazarus has come quite a long way from her days working as a production assistant in New York. Even in those early days she was destined for recognition, having been selected by UT’s National Broadcasting Honors Society to travel to New York City for an internship on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
“That was an amazing experience and I learned so much and got to work with and for incredibly talented people,” she says. “When I moved back to Knoxville I decided to pursue acting, and I knew that experience behind the camera could only help me when stepping in front of the camera because I knew so much of what was going on behind the scenes.”
“I always had this desire to express myself through the arts even though I hadn’t gone to art school,” she recalls. “But I did grow up in an artistic environment, my dad being a plastic surgeon, which is definitely an art form, and my mother went to art school in Louisiana, where they met on a blind date. They’ve been an incredible source of love and encouragement, and my mom says that she’s the one with the education but I’m the one with the passion.”
In 2016, after having gotten married, Lauren had time to think about what was going to happen next, and thought maybe creating art was the direction to go. She took a free art class at Jerry’s Artarama one Saturday morning, and it led to a path of creativity that she has continued to follow.
She finds it amusing that it was her cat who catapulted her career. “I painted this realistic portrait of Ziggy with a colorful background and the response I got was just crazy and overwhelming,” she says. Since then, she’s created hundreds of pet portraits, and taken a wide assortment of commissions, ranging from sunflower fields, poppies, abstracts and landscapes and even human portraits.
These days, Lauren – like many of us – is working at home. But that hasn’t dampened her creative spirit. In fact, she’s rather enjoying it. Perhaps that’s because her husband, Johnny Miller, is the artisan who crafts the frames for her work. “I’ll finish working on a painting and run it downstairs to him and in a couple of days or so, it magically reappears beautifully framed! It’s just a fun little process that we’ve enjoyed over the past few pandemic months,” says Lauren, who still feels quite optimistic about the future. “Things may continue to be challenging for a while, but you can’t stop an artist from creating… no matter what.”