Interview by Allison Daroie.
Serene Bacigalupi, founder of Leroy's Place built a magical business from her creative genius and wit. She’s an illustrator of monsters, unicorns and jewelry with hilarious pop culture portraits. This maven comes from a family of artists and it served her well.
Serene and I have been friends for over a decade and initially connected over our love of dance. Serene played an integral role in my life from dance to the food I eat. She really taught me that life isn't linear, you can pursue many passions and that it's ok to shift gears. Serene is an example that when coupling passion along with determination, anything is possible.
Serene is an out of this world babe with a million dollar smile. She's great at way too many things to mention. Just don’t challenge her to a dance off… you’ll get slaughtered! Please enjoy…
AD: Please explain who you are and what you do.
SB: I'm Serene Bacigalupi, and I'm a full time illustrator and puppeteer. In 2009, I founded Leroy's Place, the umbrella company for all of my work. Best known for my acrylic jewelry line that features funny pairs of illustrated portraits (Think Biggie & Tupac, or Hall & Oates), Leroy's Place is also the home of an collection of Monster paintings, and more recently some very exciting projects in puppetry.
AD: Where are you from originally?
SB: Norman, Oklahoma
AD: Where did your motivation to pursue your passion originate? What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get where you are today?
SB: I come from a family of artists, so I had a great model for how to turn my art into a business from early on. The hardest part is learning that you have to spend money to make money.
"It always feels like a risk, but I believe that if you invest in anything, it is always a good idea to invest in yourself."
AD: What is a typical day like for you?
SB: My studio is the second floor of my house, so I have a pretty nice commute! The beauty of having my hand in a few different honey pots is that I can work on different projects on different days. Recently, a lot of my energy has gone to exploring puppetry. This process is much more collaborative than say, painting, so I have been really enjoying breaking up the physical work with creative meetings and rehearsals. But in the end, I am a business owner, so a lot of my time is dedicated to writing emails, filling out applications, shipping packages, book keeping, etc.. Gotta run a tight ship! Haha!
AD: Who's your favorite artist?
SB: I have a few! Wayne White is a big inspiration. In fact, it's a little eerie to me how much my own creative career has unintentionally mirrored his. Gary Larsen (of The Far Side) is a big one. Dealing with humor is a sticky area, and Gary Larsen had an incredible way of being really funny and making gentle social commentary without being offensive. I aspire to walk the same line. Also Quentin Blake and Tim Burton have influenced my illustrative style.
AD: What was your largest life lesson?
SB: That progress isn't always linear. Sometimes two steps back is the best way to move forward.
AD: What’s your typical fitness routine?
SB: I was a pretty serious dancer for many years, so being in touch with my body is really important to me. I often start my work day by stretching in my studio, and I try to go to dance classes at least once or twice a week.
AD: What are your daily beauty rituals?
SB: As long as I've got sunscreen and eyeliner, I'm good.
AD: What's a go to place in your area?
SB: Leroy's Place, duh.
AD: Who inspires you more than anyone else in this world?
SB: This might be cheesy, but my Mom is a pretty incredible lady. She's a hitchhiking Yogi from the Bronx, with an incredible attitude towards life, and a kick ass wearable art business. I would love to be like her someday.
AD: How do versatile pieces make your life easier?
SB: As a business owner, I have to fill a lot of roles. I need clothing that can take me from a puppet rehearsal to a meeting with my accountant!
AD: Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to leave with us?
SB: I always have to remind myself that the only thing that remains constant is change!