For artist Westley Reed (aka Lane and Lucia), nature has always been a source of inspiration.

Growing up, he passed summers on a lake in Northern Michigan, collecting rocks and imagining fairies who lived in the forest. These days, he frequents flower farms and botanical gardens, often accompanied by his wife and their dog. A lot of those natural surroundings make their way into his work, which brims with colorful flowers, plants, and wildlife. This summer, Reed’s illustration shop Lane & Lucia turns 10 years old. Over that time, he has designed home decor for brands like Target and Urban Outfitters, worked in a variety of different mediums, and even started work on a spooky middle-grade novel about two siblings whose stumble on some fantastical woodland creatures.

We chatted with Reed to get the inside scoop on his distinctive patterns, use of color, and how queerness, witchiness, and astrology inform his work.

You’ve said that, for you, “art and queerness go hand in hand.” Can you talk about how queerness informs your work?

As a queer, trans, neurodivergent artist, authenticity is at the heart of everything that I am and everything I do. I can’t show up as anyone other than myself. I’ve tried it both in my life and in my art before and it doesn’t feel good putting something out there that I don’t feel connected to.

Everything in nature, including humanity is in a constant state of change and I think that is also an integral concept in the process of creating art. Being trans, for me, is accepting that and embracing the fluidity of change. The journey is just as (if not more) important than where you end up, because you’re learning and growing along the way.

I also love that with art and with queerness there is this celebration of expression. A lot of my work is for the queer community. I enjoy making pride illustrations. It makes me so happy to see people identify with my art and share my illustrations on their social media.

Your illustration shop Lane and Lucia turns 10 years old this summer and you’ve been a Society6 artist since 2017. How has your aesthetic evolved over that time?

I started Lane & Lucia just after I graduated from my undergrad program in Art History. I’ve was always creating art in school and as a hobby but that summer I started creating watercolor folk art paintings. As soon as I started, I knew I wanted to share these pieces with people. So, my wife & I started a shop online where we could sell our artwork together – she’s the Lucia behind Lane & Lucia. There was so much momentum right away. In those early days I mainly sold original artwork and shortly after that I worked with a local letterpress studio, where my early designs are still in print.

Over the years my style has changed so many times. I’ve worked in different mediums – from hyperrealistic to colorful abstract pieces. I always try to follow my interests and never limit where my creativity is taking me. The past few years I’ve been very interested in surface pattern design. I have some career goals of collaborating with a few specific brands to have my artwork on their clothing or accessories.

Along with creating illustrations for my shop, I’m currently writing a book! It’s a spooky middle grade novel with a non-binary main character and their little sister. The two siblings stumble across some terrifying ancient creatures in the woods as their geologist dad is charting a cave system. My plan is to create around 10 full page illustrations in the book as well.

When you’re beginning as an artist it feels so important to have your own specific style – I know I stressed about that too. But while I do feel like I have a signature look to my work, within my color choices or the themes I’m interested in, I love that I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t feel trapped by having a specific style. I can play and try new things because that’s what creating art is all about.

You’ve designed home decor for huge brands like Urban Outfitters and Target. Do you have a favorite print or pattern from these collections?

I love shopping at UO & Target so it’s been so unbelievable and exciting having my work there. I feel like every month I look and my pieces for wholesale are at a new store. It’s been such a great experience.

My favorite piece is the retro rainbow checkerboard on any product. That piece is a best seller in my Society6 shop and currently is at Urban Outfitters as a shower curtain. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever made. It’s just got such an effortlessly cool vibe & looks amazing in any space. Right now I have a framed canvas of it in my home and it’s such a fun statement.

I noticed a lot of plants and flowers in your illustrations. What inspires you about the natural world?

I love being in nature so much. It’s a complex question because nature is such an important part of my life. I need to be surrounded by tall trees and flowers, I don’t feel complete without them.

I spent all my summers growing up on a lake in Northern Michigan. I loved swimming, finding cool rocks, staring at the stars at night, making potions from things I found outside, pretending there were fairies in this little idyllic clearing in the forest. So being in nature feels very comforting and grounding to me.

These days I love going to flower farms, going on coast trips, visiting waterfalls, and botanical gardens. Just wandering around taking photos and spending time with my wife & our dog. I share a lot of nature photos on my Instagram and they definitely inspire my illustrations. I enjoy being able to capture all the little details and textures I notice. I actually have a Society6 shop for my photography too. A few prints are currently available here.

Do you have any rituals or routines that help you while you’re working? What does your day to day look like?

I don’t pressure myself to create things if I’m not feeling it. I’ve had a few months of creative block this year but I’ve done things a little differently this time. Instead of internalizing that block or forcing myself to make things and then being unhappy with the process & the ultimately unhappy with the finished piece, I’ve given myself a break.

So I take my dog for a walk, I watch the clouds float by & try to figure out what objects or animals they look like. I notice all tiny leaves and flowers around me. I make myself & my wife coffee with cinnamon & vanilla every morning, I play with my dog. I do tarot readings and journal. When I’m struggling to draw or paint, I work on my book, or enjoy some of my favorite shows with my wife without feeling guilty. Guilt just fuels that creative block but experiences enrich creativity.

When I do have a creative flow going I tend to be one of those people who really needs heads down time free from distractions to just focus on what I’m making. I actually prefer to create art in silence – it almost becomes meditative that way. That’s hard to do, especially with a dog who doesn’t like complete silence so things like listening to lo-fi music or a familiar show in the background helps me stay focused.

How would you describe your approach to color? 

Color is such an important part of my creative process, especially in my surface pattern illustrations. When you have a limited or minimal design in mind, color plays such an important role to tell a story in that art piece.

I play this game in my stories on Instagram to help me come up with new color palettes. I have followers tell me a specific mood, moment, or a list of their favorite things and then I make them a personalized color palette of 5 or 6 colors. It’s so much fun to make and it helps me get a feel for the personalities of the each palettes.

I’m also very interested in the history of color and pigments. It’s so fascinating to learn what a vibrant and colorful world our ancestors lived in. For example, Neanderthals created colorful abstract splatter paintings on cave walls, and throughout history, textile dyeing was such a valued practice. It’s so interesting how meaningful color has always been to us.

You sometimes incorporate astrology into your work. Can you share your sign and what you think it says about you as an artist?

I love astrology, tarot, and witchy things. I’ve got a little crystal collection & do a bit of kitchen witchcraft too. A lot of it is being intentional, noticing the things around you, and listening to your intuition.

I’m an Aries sun, I think it shows up as having this optimistic confidence in new beginnings and a strong sense of self. I also have a lot of Capricorn in my birth chart which shows up as a strong motivation to succeed and a drive to do something that I value as important and meaningful. I think being an artist and bringing joy to people’s lives though cute & colorful illustrations is exactly that.