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An untitled pattern for a mug by Illustration alumna Loris Lora (BFA 14).

profiles / exhibitions / alumni / illustration / exchange and study away
June 13, 2017
By Mike Winder
Images courtesy of Loris Lora

Alumna Loris Lora: Safe and Sound and not slowing down

An artist whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles TimesThe New Yorker and the The Wall Street Journal, Illustration alumna Loris Lora (BFA 14) spent countless childhood hours drawing. But it wasn’t until she met Illustration alumnus and former faculty Robert Jew (BFA 87) at Riverside City College that she realized she could turn her passion into a career.

"He always talked so highly of ArtCenter," says Lora of Jew, who introduced her to the art world outside the smaller Riverside art scene. "He's one of the main reasons I went to the College."

Based on Jew’s encouragement, Lora applied to ArtCenter, was accepted, and arrived ready to take full advantage of everything the College had to offer. A two-time recipient of ArtCenter’s Illustration Department Scholarship, she was able to make important connections with publishers and editors and turn several of her classroom projects into paid assignments.

Loris Lora's illustration for The New York Times' review of Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

I've been really lucky to have people that are supportive of my career and understand what it is that I'm doing.

Loris Lora

In the Spring 2013 term, Lora took the London Ancient/Modern Study Away course. The assignment for the class was to do a project about California modernism," says Lora. "The instructors, Clive Piercy and Paul Rogers (BFA 80 Illustration), told us, 'Let's bring a little California to London.'"

For her project, Lora created a poster that introduced many of the most important figures in the California modernist movement and drew links to how they all related to each other. A month after presenting her concept to publishers in London, she got a call from U.K.-based NoBrow Press, which wanted to turn her poster into a book. That deal resulted in her Eisner Award-nominated Eventually Everything Connects, which she completed while still a student at ArtCenter.

"I didn't take a term off to work on the book, so doing that assignment on top of having a whole other year of school left was pretty challenging," says Lora.

Detail of an illustration from Loris Lora's Eventually Everything Connects (NoBrow Press).

Later, in Op Ed Illustration, taught by her mentors Rogers and Brian Rea, Lora’s whimsical style caught the attention of The Gray Lady herself.

For that class, the students were given a "live assignment" in which instructors Rogers and Rea passed along to the students an actual soon-to-be-published article from The New York Times. During the course of the day, students worked on sketches to illustrate the story, received feedback from the instructors, and then had until the following morning to send in their final work. From there, an art director from the New York Times would select which student's work to publish.

"Mine wasn't chosen," says Lora. "But the next week that same art director called me and hired me to work on another story."

The cover of Safe and Sound (Flying Eye Books), illustrated by Loris Lora.

Lora worked at a breakneck speed while at ArtCenter, and her pace doesn't appear to be slowing anytime soon.

The children's division on NoBrow Press, Flying Eye Books, recently published her first children’s book, Safe and Sound. Written by Jean Roussen, the bedtime book focuses on baby animals—“from the very small ones to the biggest ones around”—their homes, and the many ways their parents keep them secure.

As for her own sense of security, Lora points to her boyfriend, her family and the friends she made at ArtCenter as all being fundamental to her success. "I've been really lucky to have people that are supportive of my career and understand what it is that I'm doing," she says.

She also continues to receive great advice and friendship from her former College instructors. "While at ArtCenter, I wanted the best college experience possible," says Lora. "So many of the instructors are nurturing, so I just built on that friendship and showed them I was serious about my career. I'm still in touch with many of them. I see them on occasion and let them know what projects I'm working on. I get in touch with them if I'm ever unsure of a commission or a contract."

La Isla de las Iguanas by Loris Lora, on view in the exhbition The Land of Enchantment.

Lora’s work can currently be seen in the ArtCenter-organized Land of Enchantment, an exhibition that features vibrant graphic work by four recent Illustration alumni—Lora, Patrick Hruby (BFA 10), Ellen Surrey (BFA 14) and Alexander Vidal (BFA 15)—a creative team that goes by the name Clover Scout. 

The exhibition pays homage to legendary American Modernist, Alexander Girard, and the scale of the works highlight the ever-expanding possibilities of illustration in the era of surface design. "We're all friends and we work really well together," says Lora of her fellow collaborators in the exhbition. "We're a good fit because our styles reinforce one another. Nobody feels out of place."

Land of Enchantment runs through August 19, 2017 at the College’s Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall.