This Colorado Designer Transforms Purses and Other Accessories With Hand-Painted Details

Lauren Zavala, owner of Zavala Bespoke is an artist based in Boulder. Her love for art led her to open her company in 2018. However, she didn’t always imagine herself here. Zavala has an undergrad from CU Boulder in art history, and an MA from the University of Buckingham in London in decorative arts and historic interiors. She always had a passion for art and even practiced independently. “I always say being an artist is my favorite thing I never thought I’d get to be,” said Zavala.

“I graduated with my MA in 2018 and moved back to Colorado from London. From there, I discovered the leather paints that I use in London and bought them to make gifts for family. I then painted a leather jacket for my boyfriend, Brayden, as a gift and people started inquiring about it,” stated Zavala. “He kept telling me to make business cards so I did while I looked for a job. From there I started getting a fair amount of business. I ended up making an Instagram and website and here we are! I now paint full-time and love it.”

Zavala flowers

Photo by Lauren Zavala

With a background in art history and inspiration from her work using pops of color, impressionist styles and fashion, Zavala strives for her art to mesh with luxury pieces.

“Artists such as Ashley Longshore, Frida Kahlo, Yves Klein, etc. all inspire me in terms of color, practice and style. I am a huge fan of Mexican folk art, so I like to include aspects of that as well. Furthermore, sculptors such as Concepción Aguilar are great examples of this — so much character and life in her work,” explained Zavala.

Zavala has set her company apart within the luxury goods sector incorporating her unique experiences and keen eye for sources of inspiration.

“Zavala Bespoke is where fine art and fashion intersect for me. As an art historian by nature, I have seen SO much art in museums. I backpacked around Europe after high school for a semester and discovered my love for art. However, it can often be unapproachable as it’s in museums, which you can’t go to every day.  Thus, having a bag or piece of clothing that has my artwork on it brings me immense amounts of joy,” stated Zavala. “It’s out in the world exposed to endless amounts of people and places.”

Zavala jacket

Photo by Cassie Dergins

“My pieces have been to multiple continents — the top of Machu Picchu, the Duomo in Italy, Trafalgar Square in London and more. How many artists get to say that? I consider it one of the greatest aspects of what I do,” said Zavala. “It’s also such a personal thing for so many of my clients. Moreover, many of my pieces are big collaborations between myself and my clients. The clients usually have an idea of a motif and let me put my own spin on it. Although, some clients let me do whatever I like on a piece. Others already have a vision. I love the collaborative aspect.”

Platforms such as social media, email and the company website are accessible to clients if they would like to have items personalized and/or customized by Zavala. The process to create a one-of-a-kind piece is intricate in nature and, therefore, made to last.

“First, I remove the factory finish of the bag with a deglazer. I then paint incredibly thin layers of white so the colors pop on top of it. Next, I paint the piece. I seal the painting with an acrylic finisher and it’s done. In addition, I use leather base shoe paints so the pieces are able to bend and flex without cracking,” explained Zavala.

Zavala stripes

Photo by Lauren Zavala

Each piece made has its own personal process and creative touch to it. Although each piece is a memorable process to Zavala, there are a few which have been extra exciting to make.

“The first big skull I did on a bag, the client told me to do pretty much anything I wanted. I added flowers and some tin/metal looking pieces — also a bird and bugs and really added anything that I thought would look good,” stated Zavala.

With a client base mostly in the US, and some all over the world, Zavala’s projects expand from one place to the next. In the near future, she hopes to still do what she does today, although she also expressed interest in doing a collaboration with a designer at some point.

Zavala butterfly

Photo by Lauren Zavala