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Meet Lauren DeCaprio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren DeCaprio.

Hi Lauren, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Growing up in Costa Mesa with a creative and crafty mother meant that all things included a glue gun and glitter and a very large bow. As a child, our garage was transformed into an arts and crafts heaven full of fabric and felt, puffy paints and ribbon, gems and buttons, and nearly anything you needed to whip up any project on a whim. This room later transformed into a full airbrush studio and then to a photography darkroom equipped with an enlarger and chemical setup. My mother hand-sewed nearly every Halloween costume and prom dress and made Easter bonnets that won many ribbons at the local community competitions. Any creative interest my three sisters and I had, my mother supported. She drove me to drawing classes in Laguna Beach, airbrushing classes in Fullerton, ceramics lessons in Newport Beach, video editing classes at the local community college, and painting classes at the YMCA. I was commissioning mural work and small projects from a young age and loved designing programs and signs for school events.

With entrepreneurial parents, I was encouraged to jump into projects head first and their support didn’t leave much room for self-doubt. Leading a life full of crafting, it wasn’t a surprise I was motivated to study graphic design in college and continue my creative endeavors. After time taking many art classes at Orange Coast College and studying abroad on a Semester at Sea, I found my way to San Diego State, where I dedicated many hours in the studio, majoring in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design. In 2003, my sister Tiana was getting married and helping her design her wedding invitations is when my focus shifted. Growing up with a big family, we always had big gatherings and quite a bit of fun. It was a natural fit for me to want to celebrate others and their big life moments through design. I began helping others with event stationery and eventually, Papercut Invites (@papercutinvites) was born. It is one of my absolute joys in life to help celebrate so many special occasions through designing for birthdays, babies, engagements, graduations, weddings, and showers. I have been able to design for restaurants, sports leagues, and community events and work with incredible marketers, business owners, wedding and event coordinators across the globe.

I continued to enjoy designing for nearly ten years but continued to feel a calling to pass along the same inspiration that my mother gifted to me. This is when I found myself “called to the classroom” and went back to school in 2016 for my teaching credential and Masters in Education to teach art to high school students. I knew that the gift I was given at a young age is necessary to continue to pay forward so others know that there is a place for the creative souls in this world. I was lucky enough to find Del Norte High School in Del Sur, San Diego, and created a home as the ceramics teacher. I like to say that I teach life through the medium of clay. I feel incredibly honored to encourage high school students to trust themselves to use their creative gifts and find ways to release the pressures of life through art. I showcase their beautiful work on Instagram @decaprioartadventures. I am able to continue designing for events and companies and now have the honor to pass along those skills to support Del Norte and other local schools. I have been happily married for 15 years with two amazing boys, Jackson (10) and Lincoln (9), who will hopefully always know that their creativity is supported and encouraged, but also necessary to add vibrant color to this beautiful and diverse world.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A major challenge along the way was losing my mother to complications from cancer. In 2017, my biggest supporter was diagnosed with breast cancer, and ultimately treatment caused aplastic anemia, which became too much for her to continue to fight. This hit our whole family incredibly hard as the matriarch of our family was missing. My mother was a force of nature and an incredible person. She dedicated thousands of hours volunteering at our schools and was at every game, production, and event. She was everyone’s mother. She was the life of the party and all of our lives were a little dimmer after she passed.

I hang her disco ball in my classroom today to remind me to shine her light on my students every day. We coined “Disco Ball Fridays” in her honor to remind ourselves to laugh and dance and play while letting the outside stress of the world lay quiet for our time together. While cleaning out her house after her passing, I found a box with one of every invitation and announcement I ever sent her (there were hundreds) as well as the first ceramic project I ever made from first grade. I keep that project in my classroom today to prove to students that their parents want their creations and will keep them forever, even if they are slightly lopsided and imperfect. It is an amazing thing to think that one’s hands can form a pile of dirt into something very beautiful.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I specialize in custom design which includes social media, web graphics, print, signage, banners, murals, pottery, and event stationery. I am known for being a multi-faceted artist that can help in a wide variety of ways in multiple mediums. I am proud that I don’t fit into one drop-down box because I do a little bit of everything. I help local startup companies, schools, sports programs, restaurants, small businesses, and family and friends with anything they need. I think what sets me apart is that I have had many jobs and can bring all of that experience into everything I do.

I played many sports growing up, was a recreation leader, coached many sports, worked in restaurants for 20+ years, worked for a print house, graphic designer, teacher, and freelancer. I have been blessed to travel and see the world, and I believe those experiences opened my mind up to the diversity that makes our world glow. I feel that I am able to connect with students in that I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but rather recognized early that you don’t need to know. I try and teach them that there is no finish line and that each opportunity will be a new path that will somehow lead to another one, and eventually, all paths create a personalized map which will one day be an inspiration and guide to others.

What were you like growing up?
I was a very active and involved child. There wasn’t a sport or activity I didn’t try. I participated in dance lessons, tap lessons, bowling leagues, karate, ice skating, basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, track and field, swimming, badminton, art classes, and gymnastics. I was always up for something new, and my parents were supportive of trying anything that seemed to come my way. I was in student government, drama and volunteered often. Soccer was my lifelong sport and I played all the way through college. I was a very awkward kid but never really knew it because I had so much love around me. I was always finding new activities and continued to find places and groups to be a part of. I started working at a young age and was taught work ethic by very hard-working parents. I look back at my childhood with fond memories of a big and loud family that never seemed to do anything in moderation.

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Image Credits

@switzerfilmweddings, @keithleestudios, @hannycrabb

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