Meet Leah Reena Goren, the adorable Brooklyn-based illustrator who has managed to capture all our #summergoals with her bright, beautiful — and notably body-positive — art. We recently stumbled upon her bodacious surfer babes and 70s-esque floral paintings and prints online, and instantly fell in love. Her straight-from-the-heart works are just the kind of casual, colorful inspiration we want to be surrounded by all season.
Get to know this talented artist below, including the grounded girl-powered philosophy behind her art, and the unexpected muse who is inspiring her vibe…
The Chalkboard Mag: So, Leah, tell us about yourself…
Leah Goren: My name is Leah Goren and I’m an illustrator. I live in Brooklyn, New York and work out of my apartment.
TCM: What are a few of your favorite neighborhood haunts?
LG: I live in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn and I love that all my friends live close by. Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene all feel like one big neighborhood to me, and I love biking around on warm days and watching my boyfriend play tennis in Fort Greene Park. Around my apartment, my favorite spot for coffee or lunch is Stonefruit — they make beautiful and healthy grain bowls and the shop is filled with plants. For dinner I’ll head to Speedy Romeo for the best pizza, or Samurai Papa for ramen or soba.
TCM: Can you share a few current inspirations?
LG: Warm weather, my mom’s paintings of fishbowls from the 1970s, and an old book I have called Wild Flowers of America.
TCM: Your work seems body-confidence oriented. Is that intentional or is it just us?
LG: People ask me this a lot and I think it’s a little bit of both. Drawing women, particularly nude women, derives from my love of figure drawing. Drawing from a nude model is a fundamental of art education, and I started taking classes while I was still in high school. The current feminist movement has inspired a slew of body-positive work and so this became a part of my work people really responded to positively. I see it a little more as a nod to classics than a response to a current trend, but I know on some level I wouldn’t be making this work still if I didn’t have confidence as a female artist. I make my work with like-minded girls and women in mind, and if my audience finds it empowering I think that’s great.
TCM: We love your use of color! Any notes on your choices and inspiration there?
LG: I choose color intuitively. I took a color theory class in school where I learned about triads and tetrads — groupings of three or four colors that look good together — and I think that lingers in my brain somewhere, though I don’t actively draw from it. I do try and keep my palette limited, and focus on a small group of colors that pop all together. I’m also always on the lookout for striking color combos out in the world, in art, design or just on the street. Last week I ran into some equipment on a construction site with a violet, mustard, and black that were perfect together!
TCM: What are your favorite recent projects?
LG: I recently released a series of three floral vases with Anthropologie. I’m glad I can work with them to make my ceramics widely available and very reasonably priced, since so few people can have access to my handmade pieces.
TCM: Tell us about a few recent travels and/or gallery visits…
LG: My last trip was to the Bay Area — San Francisco and Oakland — and I had the best time driving out of the city and into the Redwoods. More locally, last weekend I visited the Jewish Museum to see Florine Stettheimer and the Cooper Hewitt to see their 1920s exhibit. I also try to go to galleries in Chelsea every month or two, and my favorite show this year so far was Alice Neel.
TCM: What’s on your summer reading list?
LG: I’m just starting to read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale — the show on Hulu is captivating, and the only thing I’m watching now!
TCM: Name your latest muse…
LG: My cat Lacy