Lauren Tsai explains how to make your creative dreams come true
Lauren Tsai is a real creative. Known in most countries of the world as a star of the cult Japanese reality TV series Terrace House, Tsai is also a model, actor and illustrator. Her work earned her a collaboration with Marc Jacobs in 2019, while her acting resume includes roles in the FX series. Legion and Moxie, Amy Poehler’s directorial debut. It was fitting that Tsai, who moved overseas to Tokyo and then Los Angeles to pursue his art, would give us his advice on how to capture your creative ambitions.
Get a whiteboard and a notebook. Write down all your tasks, goals, and thoughts. Make your dream a direction, not an immediate goal. It gets overwhelming very quickly when I look at my ultimate goals and how to achieve them at that precise moment. I have found that I am getting closer, slowly but surely, focusing only on what I can do today. In my subconscious, I am walking towards something that I cannot reach yet and I know that if I try to figure it all out now, I will burn myself out and see my personal life crumble.
Do things for yourself first. You have a point of view that no one else has. And that’s something really special. Doing things that you hope others will like dilutes that point of view, turning it into a way to sell yourself… and it never feels good. Be the boss and be the worker. Try to hold yourself accountable like you’re working for someone else.
Don’t force it when nothing comes out. Get out. Alone. Look at the things you love and explore. I felt so lonely right after moving to Japan and then Los Angeles, but I found a lot of joy in going out on my own to do the things I wanted to do with others. Let the world inspire you. Otherwise, doing nothing is also very important. There is absolutely nothing wrong or lazy in doing nothing. He gets lonely too, so be aware of the thoughts in your head when they hit you. I used to silence them immediately with some form of self-destruction or distraction. I think they’re trying to tell you something about your life or where you need to go.
Go down a rabbit hole. Ask a ton of questions. I didn’t go to art school, so I attribute a lot of what I know to the people I’ve met and their wisdom. I love going to YouTube’s burrows to learn new techniques. I really like things that are immediate rather than online courses, but that’s also great. I took one last summer for a Maya, which was so necessary because I don’t think I could have understood it without this structure.
Pretend you are dead. Last year I started doing this and then it became a daily thought. I pretended I was already dead and had the chance to see things again. I fantasize a lot about the past. I regret all the quiet moments that perhaps seemed trivial to me at the time. This helps to put the present in perspective. Even though things are rubbish or painful right now, I know I will miss all of this one day. Even sitting in freeway traffic in LA Probably. Anyway, this thought helps me feel the beauty of things.
Be unreal. You don’t have to be “real” anything. I used to be so caught up about it. I am not a real illustrator. I am not a real actor. I am not a real painter. This idea of ”real” will only kill or coerce you. I was afraid to let myself be loved and to try new things because I felt that members of different artistic communities would take me less seriously. But knowing that you’re doing the things you are out of love and out of curiosity is all that matters. It’s your life to live the way that makes you feel the most alive.
Take risks. Whatever you are dreaming of, lean on it. Before moving to Tokyo, I spent a year online figuring out how to do it. Watch apartments, watch videos, imagine how I would live. If anything enlightens you, follow it. The riskiest thing probably seems risky because that’s what you really want. Do it!
Be rejected. Not getting what you want will happen. The hundreds of turndowns I faced between jobs and opportunities were just as big as the ones I had. And I’m happy now that I didn’t get what I wanted when I wanted the wrong things. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you go outside. Email / DM to people, share your work, tell people what you dream of doing.
Hair and makeup: Hinako