Lauren Ortega graduated from Chesapeake High School this year and is now headed to New York City to study design at the School of Visual Arts, where she will pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
The Pasadena resident became interested in graphic design as a sophomore, and after taking design courses at Anne Arundel County’s Center of Applied Technology North (CAT-North), she launched her own company during her junior year.
“I’ve always been an artist,” Ortega explained. “A friend said that I was so talented with drawing, I should try it on the computer.”
Ortega took that advice seriously and completed two design courses at CAT-North. In her senior year, she opted for AP Art at Chesapeake and customized the course to focus on building a design portfolio.
“I got to design my own ideas,” she said. “It was really fun. I got to do whatever I wanted.”
Ortega’s portfolio theme celebrated the beauty of women throughout different time periods, beginning with the late 1800s. Each of her 12 designs was a portrait with backgrounds that were indicative of the time they represented.
“I felt a connection with each one of them,” Ortega said. Some of her senior-year pieces were chosen for exhibits — one at the senior art show at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and one at the library at Anne Arundel Community College.
Ortega said that her freelance ambitions were sparked after she did some volunteer design work at school. In 2018, she designed the prom tickets for CAT-North, and in 2019, Ortega designed keepsake keychain prom tickets for Chesapeake’s senior prom. She also designed T-shirts for her graduating class. The shirts featured a vicious cougar to represent the school’s mascot. Coming up with these creations gave Ortega essential experience, she said, and brought additional work her way. Ortega’s projects through L.O Design have mostly been logos and business cards.
“My mom has her own business, and growing up in that environment and being an independent woman inspires me,” Ortega noted.
Her mom, Steph, owns O’s Paint and Design, a local interior painting and design company that she runs with her husband, Jose. “I have hardworking parents; they inspire me,” Ortega said, adding that she has been positively influenced by her grandparents as well.
While at Chesapeake and CAT-North, Ortega gained skills and confidence. She was a member of the art club and Future Business Leaders of America. Ortega joined the African American Heritage Club, spoke publicly about her experiences with racism, and received guidance and mentoring from teachers and staff. Among those she credited with providing support and inspiration are CAT-North design teacher Megan Snyder, Chesapeake student advocate Demetrius Diakhate and student ambassador Jay Offer. “All of these people helped me understand my value,” Ortega said.
As she prepares for college, Ortega is excited about the future. She plans to continue her freelance work and hopes to be inspired by the community of artists she will encounter at school in Manhattan. “If you’re dedicated and persistent, you’re going to follow your dreams and be successful no matter what,” Ortega shared.
See Ortega’s online portfolio and learn more about her design services at www.lodesign.myportfolio.com.