What inspired you to become an artist?
My great-grandmother was an artist, and we grew up spending the summers at her former home. I never met her, as she died before I was born, but I was always surrounded by her work and really admired it. My mom is also an artist—she has an amazing ceramic studio. Every woman in my family has some kind of creative practice, so I always thought of being an artist as a very viable career path. After studying painting in college, I ended up working in fashion for 7 years and painted on the side and after work. I realized that being crammed at my desk painting late at night was the best part of my day, so I took the leap and left my job to pursue art full time.
Which three words describe your design aesthetic?
Colorful, Whimsical, Personal
What inspires your work?
I’m really inspired by the way people use art to tell their stories. In my invitation work and my painting commissions, I love finding creative ways to tell stories visually that feel very unique to them.
When you have a creative block, what pulls you out of it?
A change of scenery! I left New York at the beginning of the pandemic and have been bouncing around every couple of months since. I have lived in New Orleans, Shelter Island, the Bahamas and most recently, Lake Tahoe. A large-scale change of scenery does wonders for a creative block but I also try to get up and walk my dog if I am feeling stuck in my day-to-day practice.
What is your proudest moment as an artist?
This is a tough one! I have been so lucky in my career to work with so many amazing brands and clients, but I would have to say it was the first time a total stranger commissioned me to do a painting. It felt like I had really made it!
You used to work primarily with oils but switched to watercolors. What is it about working with watercolors that keeps you drawn to that medium?
Oils were definitely my first love. I switched to watercolors out of necessity. Oils take up a lot of space and that was something I definitely didn’t have when I moved to New York City after college. I lived in a tiny walk up and I had a child-sized desk in the corner of my bedroom. Painting with watercolors was really my only option. I have definitely fallen in love with them though. Watercolors are super unforgiving, and I think that makes everything a little less precious. They are also so easy to travel with—I never leave for a trip without them.
Your website mentions your interest in storybook art. Are there any books in particular that inspire you? If there was one story you could create art for, which would it be?
I’m really lucky that both of my parents are big readers. Our house growing up was FULL of books. I am such a visual person and I read illustrated children's books way longer than I probably should have. Some of my favorites were "Winnie the Pooh", "Where the Wild Things Are", Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, "Eloise at the Plaza" and "Strega Nona".
In terms of writing my own book, I have a 2-year-old French Bulldog named Freddie. She is full of personality and SO friendly. We have been moving around pretty much since I got her so she has had a very interesting little life. I would love to write and illustrate a book about all the friends she has met along the way.
What's the most memorable party you've ever been to?
My sister's wedding! I only have one sibling and she is just a year older than me, so we have always been super close. She got married this past September, to her wife Rose, in Brooklyn. They originally wanted to get married at City Hall, but it was closed because of the pandemic. I ended up getting ordained and marrying them on a stoop in Fort Greene. The whole weekend was very magical and so much fun.
What advice would you give to an aspiring creator?
This is probably very unglamorous advice, but I would say, don’t be scared to ask for help. It’s really challenging getting started and even after doing it for a while, it can feel isolating. It takes a village, so don’t be too shy or too cool to say you don’t know what you are doing and you need guidance. Also, get super comfortable taking feedback!
What excites you the most about your collaboration with Evite?
I have been designing paper invitations for the past ~5 years. My absolute favorite part of my job is when I finish a project and think of how many people are going to be opening envelopes in the mail with my artwork inside. Working with Evite is beyond exciting for me because it is that same idea on a much larger scale! I am so thrilled that people will be using my designs to invite people to the most special days in their lives.
While attending college in New Orleans, Larsen studied art history and painting. She eventually left the south and returned to New York to pursue a career in fashion. After time spent working at both Tory Burch and Tabitha Simmons, Larsen left the industry and began painting full time.
Larsen creates custom, made-to-order paintings, prints, stationery and event invitations. She has worked for brands such as Carolina Herrera, Matches Fashion, Tory Burch, Cece Dupraz, Neely & Chloe, Origins, J. Mclaughlin and Anthropologie. Her work has been published in Tory Burch: In Color, Brides Magazine and Goop.com.
For more of her work, check out @larsenmcdowell on Instagram (or these Evites, of course)!