In Conversation with Lauren Mulligan about her Doodles Challenge

Photographer, illustrator and film-maker, Lauren Mulligan recently put together a rather interesting project where she sets little doodle challenges for herself using day-to-day objects such as match sticks, fruits, shoes and coloured paper. The illustrations invite the viewer to be part of the interpretation of the work, making them active participants of the project. Through this doodle challange, she hopes to encourage people to question their perception of the world.

Mulligan briefly chats to us about her doodles and the aim of this project:

Please tell us a bit more about the doodle challenges you have set for yourself and how this came about?

I worked as a photojournalist from 2008-2014, and in as much as I enjoyed capturing stories, the editorial rules made me feel trapped. So I began photographing landscapes and drawing over the photographs to add another layer of interpretation, and I made ten of these and stopped.  Then about two years ago I watched the Christoff Niemann episode of the Netflix series, Abstract, and it inspired me to start challenging myself to daily doodle challenges on my Instagram account. 

What is the aim of this project? 

We are not one thing, but we have been socialized to believe that we should choose one path and stick to it and  I don’t believe this is sustainable. My doodles are an example of the interesting ways that can break function and re-form the meaning, doodles are a personal tool I use to challenge my perspective – both of how I see myself and the world around me.

At the very least, I hope my work makes people smile. 

This is a very cool and innovative project. What has been your creative process when creating each piece of art? 

Most of the time, I start by choosing an object. Then comes a lot of staring, twisting, opening, and sometimes breaking, until an idea sparks. For example; I’ll decide that popcorn looks like a chicken, while the seeds look like an egg, from that, I have a farm scene. I’ve recently been getting some commissions for magazine stories and this has challenged me to start with my interpretation of the story.  It’s been particularly difficult, but this is an important process that I need to work on and improve my approach. It’s also important to share that I have a bunch of doodles that never make the cut because my partner does major ‘quality control’’. This can be frustrating when I have to rework a piece, but I believe it’s made my work better and the concepts stronger. 

How often do you create a new piece or rather, how often do you set a new challenge?

I’m experimenting with different approaches so I go through periods where I post daily and other times only once a week. I think the doodles are very different when I play with different approaches, but I’m aiming for another 30-day challenge in September.

You’re both a photographer and an illustrator. How would you describe your style of work?

‘Play’ is central to my work, regardless of the medium.  I never have things fully planned out before I start, and this is how I stay excited and engaged. 

Lauren Mulligan

What inspires the work that you create?

The bulk of my inspiration comes from observation and interaction, and so every doodle tells a different story. These stories range between social commentary and life experiences, but it’s constantly changing. I also watch a lot of funny dog videos, and this may be the reason why animals are a recurring theme.

Lauren Mulligan
Lauren Mulligan

To view some of Mulligan’s incredible work, click here

Between 10 and 5