Help our followers get to know you. What does a typical day in the life of Theo Nicole Lorenz involve?
I spend the first part of the day shambling around my house, sipping a Dr. Pepper, followed by a demanding gray cat who wants whatever is in my mouth. When the weather is nice, I'll spend a while on the front porch, waking up slowly and making a to-do list for the day. At lunchtime, I hold the cat at bay with one arm and eat with the other. Two afternoons a week, my dear friend and author assistant Jack comes over to deal with emails, project research, and herding a procrastinating author/illustrator. In Early evening, I finally stop procrastinating and sit down to work. (Right now that work is split between revising a novel and sketching illustrations for two coloring book projects.) At some point the cat comes and knocks things off my desk to let me know it's dinnertime. If I don't have plans with friends, I probably work until around midnight, or until cat falls asleep on my arms so I can't work anymore.
That's what a typical good day looks like. Sometimes anxiety keeps me from answering my emails for weeks. Sometimes depression knocks me down and I have a week or a month or more where I barely get anything done besides feeding the cat. But it always comes back around to days like that one. And always, no matter what, my time is punctuated by cat.
When did you first become interested in illustrating?
Probably around the time I learned to hold a crayon. I spent most of my childhood writing and illustrating little stories, but then spent my teen years and most of college insisting that making art my job would take the fun out of it. (Spoiler: it didn't!)
What are your favourite things to draw?
I love drawing people, especially fictional characters. And dinosaurs. And this kiwi bird named Peter, who is an accountant.
Where do you find inspiration?
I tend to make coloring books about my favorite media topics. Like, my favorite movie as a kid was The Little Mermaid, so I did Mer World Problems to sort of honor that. I'm fascinated by apocalypse stories, so I made The Apocalypse Coloring and Activity Book.
Also, a lot of it is peer pressure. I'll throw a bunch of different ridiculous topics out to Twitter or a group of friends and see what people are excited about, then brainstorm on the popular topics until something clicks. Or a friend will tell me to do a book about some topic, and I'll go "Ooh! Yes!" Or, one time, one of my best friends kept shouting a book title at me for two years, and I finally caved and drew the book that went with the title. (That was Dinosaurs With Jobs.)
If you weren't an illustrator what would you be?
I'd be a novelist. Heck, I'm trying to be that now, too.
(If I couldn't be either, I probably would've pursued a career in mortuary sciences. It's probably for the best that I'm an illustrator.)
Why do you think adult colouring books have become so huge?
I think that coloring taps into a couple of things that adults really need. First, there's that immediate relaxation that comes with sitting down to color. Most of us grew up with coloring as a quiet time activity, and I think the sensation of coloring pings something in our brains that says, "Okay, it's time to be quiet and focus on this." Call it nostalgia, call it conditioning, whatever it is, it feels a little bit magical.
Second, I think adults tend to forget that we need creative time, and coloring is about the best way I can imagine to get that in. Unlike most other things in our lives, coloring requires no skill or end goal. There's no way to be bad at coloring! You color for a little while, and TA-DA! You made something. It's a great way to feed that need for creativity without the pressure of making something the "right" way. For those of us with anxiety, that can be so helpful.
What does your working environment look like?
I just bought my first house, and most of the upstairs is my studio space. There's a sunny, open area by the top of the stairs with built-in shelves and a desk where I can paint. The largest bedroom has been converted into my studio. It's a long, narrow room with sloped turquoise walls and a skylight. At one end there's a bright pink Ikea couch and TV for having art jams and collaboration meetings with my local artist friends, and at the other end, under the window, is my personal workspace. My desk is a mess of computer cables, discarded to-do lists, and stickers. There's hardly anything on the walls yet, but I hope to fill them with my friends' art.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who/what?
Oh yeah, I always need something to listen to or watch. I listen to music on repeat a lot - playlists I've made for particular projects, an album or three I'm really into at the time, that sort of thing. Right now I'm mildly obsessed with Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, and the Hamilton soundtrack. (Oh my god the Hamilton soundtrack.)
What are your favourite things in life?
My house, my friends, brush pens, Cheez-Its, my bed, and the cat who is currently pestering me for his dinner.
Finally, please give 3 words that describe your work.
Joyful, subversive, and hilarious. (These are my favorite words others have used to describe it!)