(Image by Elizabeth Ervin)
Words by Katie Hall
Over the next month we'll be introducing you to our tiny-but-mighty team here at LBL. First up: Raven, who is not only a co-founder and the creative director at LBL—she's also the author and artist behind our first title, A Raven's Nest.
Q: First things first: where are you from and what brought you to Charleston?
RR: I’m from Destin, Florida, which is in the panhandle of Florida. I came to Charleston because my husband is from here. We were living in Atlanta and I was ready to be back to a coastal town, but we still wanted a city environment and we also wanted to be closer to family. Charleston just checked all those boxes for us so we decided to settle down here!
Q: It’s impossible not to love it here. What about siblings?
RR: I have a brother, his name is Baxter and he’s also an artist. My parents have had an American craft art gallery for 40 years, and he’s running it now in Grayton Beach, Florida.
Q: Do you think the gallery is part of what influenced you to become an artist?
RR: Yeah, I guess! My mom is an artist, but there was never any pressure for me to be or do anything. I always enjoyed making things and I’m a very visual person, so the idea of creating things that I find aesthetically beautiful feels rewarding to me.
Q: And how would you describe the type of art you create?
RR: All of my work is emotionally driven. I have to be drawn to it aesthetically, of course, but it also has to have some sort of emotional connection to it. Each piece I create is a part of my story in a way. I always say I paint what I know and what I’m thinking about. I think a lot about home, I think a lot about love and relationships, and being a woman. And flowers. I love flowers.
Q: So, how is your book, A Raven's Nest, a part of your story?
RR: It is me! My book is about my dog Willie and I going on an adventure and making a nest, which is what I paint. When I’m making a nest, I think about what colors I want to incorporate to make a feeling. The nest itself is about the messiness of love, and the imperfectness of home, but how it’s perfect and messy and lovely the way it is. So it’s about building these things, and even though they get messed up, they’re actually better than how they started. That’s the idea behind my book.
Q: If you could be any character in a book, who would it be and why?
RR: I’ve always loved The Giving Tree, but I’m not sure if I would be the tree or the boy. I think I’m naturally a very giving person, so maybe I would be the tree.
Q: Is there any other book that you read as a kid that sticks out to you?
RR: Oh yeah, Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg. It’s wildly full of vivid colors and beautiful imagery. The story is about a little boy whose mom is a monster and doesn’t come out of the house. But one day her son was being bullied by three other boys and she swooped in to save him, and everyone realized just how caring and warm she actually was. By the end of the story all the little boys are friends, too. It’s not your typical children’s book story, but the message and the emotions that the art evokes are inspiring. I hope A Raven's Nest will do for a another child what Monster Mama did for me.
Q: We could all learn a little something from Monster Mama. What about your other sources of inspiration?
RR: Well for Lil Bit Lit, I was really inspired by Spanish surrealist and abstract expressionist Joan Miro. His art has an aura of childlike dreaminess and playfulness, and I didn’t really understand it until I saw it in person in Barcelona this summer. For me personally, about ten years ago I was obsessed with Robert Rauschenberg, and recently I’ve been looking more at Cy Twombly’s and Helen Frankenthaler’s work. They’re all American painters and Rauschenberg was also a graphic artist.
Q: One of the ideas behind LBL is to connect children with their emotions. Why is making children’s books with a message of connectedness important to you?
RR: I want to have children, and I want them to read books that are created by the artists I admire. I think that as an artist and as a friend of many artists, I know and love their brains, their hearts, and what they have to offer to the world. The idea of them making something that will impact my child is amazing to me and that is what I want.