Lauren INDOVINA ’01 is an Emmy Award-winning Director and Visual Artist based in Los Angeles. She is best known for her ethereal visuals and multifaceted approach to art, design, film techniques, and branding. With a background in fine art and fifteen years in advertising, she has created original art and directed for internationally acclaimed design, animation, VFX studios, and agencies. Her work is included in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent motion collection, her sculptures have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, she has directed Super Bowl ads, and her art has been on display on Rodeo Drive, at Radio City Music Hall, and in Times Square. Most recently, Lauren earned credits as the concept designer for Beyoncé's film Black Is King and the animation director for Amazon's Utopia series. She is currently directing and designing scripts for animated feature content and developing artificial intelligence and virtual reality characters and narratives.
Years at Ellis:
Kindergarten to Grade 12
BFA Film and Animation, Rhode Island School of Design
Los Angeles, CA
How did you get into your line of work?
I was 6 when my aunt gave me a miniature movie film camera. “I got this for Lauren because she’s going to be a director one day.” I was a bossy little girl. I was also artistic. Through the years, I refined these traits. I learned to speak articulately about artistic concepts and inspire others towards a common creative goal. I trained myself to create with meaning and to make innovative designs, characters, and worlds.
Becoming a director began at Ellis when I was in high school. I was dogged in my pursuit of the arts and passionate about making seven-foot-tall ceramic puppets. My love for characters and sculpture led me to RISD where I majored in film and animation. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. Being a director for film and TV means that you are a visual storyteller. You are the person who gives a voice to a project and you bring it to life with design, art, and language. Your goal is to lead a team of other artists, producers, and technicians to achieve a creative vision that celebrates a brand, tells a story, or both.
Is there a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
The projects which have neared the brink of disaster, the ones which had an audience of people who had no faith in the vision of the work, where everything went wrong or nearly didn’t deliver, are almost always the accomplishments I am most proud of. It’s the hero’s journey to pursue the impossible. We route for things we fear can fail and love the spirit of the fight.
In the pursuit of something great, my goal as an artist and director is to always push the boundaries of a project by staring into the void, fearful at first until I can see a faint signal of potential success. When this happens, I grab it and wade more confidently toward the exciting target. Sometimes this means pushing the design so it’s a little different, or fusing techniques that aren’t normally paired. To guide my team off the beaten path to accomplish something we didn’t think was possible is the goal.
What do you like most about your job?
Being a director for film and TV is like being the captain of a large pirate ship filled with cats during a hurricane in the pursuit of a magical unicorn. Everyone wants to go their own way at all times and the pressure is on the captain to organize chaos and make sure the sink doesn’t ship. You have to keep a steady head, stay focused, and conjure up a way to maintain a core sense of self-belief which is nearly impossible when no one is listening. But when the team sees the horizon and the goal is within reach, when we’ve passed the finish line and I can see there is a pride in the production, I can’t think of a more rewarding moment short of giving birth.
What lessons has your work life taught you?
The best thing that ever happened to me was being fired. As one of my employers told me, “One day you’ll be a great director, but right now you’re a wild bee in a honey hive”. As heartbreaking as it can be to feel cut out, and as much as you want to fall apart, failing often brings success.
For Ellis students reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
Enjoy the journey. Try to find peace in not being in control. Fail more and often. Around the corner from failure, something great awaits you.
What do you think are the advantages to Ellis’ environment?
Internal strength. I remember raucous class meetings, lots of laughter, opinions, sass, and just seeing a lot of boxers and sliders. We were close with our teachers, they were close with us. There were pranks. Everything was an inside joke. Everyone was very present. I think this was so important for young women, to really feel free, and to laugh. Ellis’s non-judgemental environment allowed me to draw, create, and make things and just not care if they were good enough. The saying from my family is that I was very prolific, but truthfully the signal I got from Ellis was to explore, play, and do, so I just kept going. At that age, there is so much internal conflict you have with yourself, going to a supportive, relaxed environment allowed us to really become ourselves and appreciate those around us.
We often talk about girls developing their voice at Ellis, what does that mean to you? How do you use your voice?
We were raised on “Rosie the Riveter” and “Esse Quam Videri” at Ellis. I never questioned this powerful messaging. But when I entered the workforce, I often found myself in conflict, fighting against sexism I thought women like Rosie had eradicated. But as the years ticked on, I realized that I got it wrong. Ellis didn’t teach me that the world was ready for Rosie the Riveters. Ellis taught me that I was a Rosie the Riveter. My role was to stand on the shoulders of giants and pave new ways for the generations of women after me.
Can you recall an instance when you have been brave and bold in either your personal or professional life?
I was petrified everyone would find out I wasn’t good enough at art. I worked my tail off in a state of fear that I’d be rejected. Imposter syndrome is real. We all have it and it’s probably a big part of why we’re driven to prove some elusive point that you deserve to be there. The sooner you realize that this is the human experience and not unique to you, the better you’ll be at what you do and the happier you’ll be with yourself.
What is the most important lesson you learned at Ellis?
The most valuable lesson I learned from Ellis is to speak articulately and with conviction. I learned this by watching the teachers of Ellis speak with purpose and passion. Lessons were dynamic. They taught us to be critical thinkers and take pride in our ideas and respect our differences.