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Nan Lawson: The Cute, the Creepy, the Fangirly

Food with faces? Check. Sleepy sloths? Check. Fan art of our favorite fictional couples? Check check check.

Nerdy art extraordinaire Nan Lawson uses her art style to make already cute things that much cuter. Which makes sense given the self-professed inspiration she finds in “hipsters, cult television shows, and desserts.” Her portraits and illustrations have landed her commissions from SONY, ESPN, Penguin Publishing, Warner Brothers, and many more.

We talked to Nan Lawson about her unique style, her favorite TV shows, and the adorkable designs you can find in her artist shop. Check out what she had to say below!

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NanLawson_macaroons
“Bite Me”

Tell me about yourself! Quick life story, favorite fandom, favorite dessert, GO.

Hello! I’m Nan, which is actually a nickname short for Shannon. I live in LA with my husband and cats, and spend most days drawing! My favorite fandom was Game of Thrones, but I think it just got edged out by Star Wars. Favorite dessert is probably a cupcake of some kind.

Your art has a beautiful texture to it! What medium do you use?

I work digitally. I have a Wacom Cintiq and I draw directly into photoshop. I use Kyle Webster brushes, and add some texture layers to give it that more painterly feel.

nanlawson_pinups
Courtesy of Nan Lawson & Mattel

How has your style developed?

My style is always changing and evolving. I think the biggest constant lately with my work is my color choices. I keep things more on the pastel side. Lots of pinks and yellows. I am completely self taught, which I think has its advantages and disadvantages, but I’m always learning and teaching myself new ways to get better at drawing.

Your “The Wolf,” “Siren Song,” and “Bones” character are all super creepy-cute. Are these all characters with stories behind them or just fun designs?

I made those pieces as a series. I wanted to draw some spooky girls that were original characters as opposed to more fan art. It was around Halloween at the time I made them, so that helped me get into the creepy mood.

NanLawson_CreepyGirls
The Wolf,” “Siren Song,” “Bones

What inspires you the most?

NanLawson_cat
“Siamese”

What inspires me most is probably film and television. I’m a big nerd about well made film and tv in almost any genre.

What music helps get you in the zone?

I usually listen to things that are on the more folksy side while working. I also listen to a lot of film scores and classical music – stuff that’s beautiful but not distracting.

You’ve worked with some big companies! What’s the hardest commission you’ve ever had to do?

Honestly, the hardest commissions are the ones I’m not very invested in. I’ve
done work for some big companies that was just corporate stuff, and I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room when it came to style choices. While it’s nice to have on the resume, sometimes it’s just not worth it if it doesn’t make you happy.

nanlawson_sloth
“Nap Time”

I love that you do a lot of awesome fan art, but in your own style – it makes it unique. Would you recommend it as a good gateway to help independent artists get their personal work noticed as long as they keep their own style?

Well, I sell lots of fan art so I would say I’m all for it! I do think it is a great way to get more eyes on your work, and if it keeps you drawing then why not? I know selling fan art can be tricky sometimes with copyright, but I think if it is done well and out of respect most companies appreciate the fandom. I’ve gotten more jobs in the film and television industry because of my fan art, so it just depends!

nanlawson_fanart
Courtesy of Nan Lawson

Is it ever difficult to reimagine characters in your style?

I haven’t found it difficult to reimagine characters in my style, because my style is just how I draw. I think there’s a lot of people who are so focused on finding a “style” that they don’t just sit down and draw what they want, and get easily frustrated if it doesn’t end up how they want it to.

Check Out Nan Lawson’s Artist Shop Here!

Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.