By Eleanora Morrison
It was August of 2009 when I apprehensively walked into my first and only Art History class at Trinity University, soon to meet the quiet, inquisitive and intelligent illustrator Taylor Dolan. At the time, the only business I thought I had in the art and music building was for my music lessons and recitals, but I soon fell in love with the world of visual art, developed an appreciation for art history, and became fast friends with Taylor.
She was always doodling. Before class began, I remember Taylor inking her iconic designs on friend’s shoes, skateboards, and on her hands…sitting at her desk, smiling her contagious smile at our peers as they filed in for lecture. Outside of the classroom, we were in a dance performance group together on campus. After we graduated, we went separate ways and kept up somewhat infrequently on social media…until our November issue of ELEANORA Magazine highlighting the life and legacy of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was published.
One morning last month, I opened my Instagram account to find that Taylor had tagged us in two inspired original illustrations of Juana Inés, based on our visual story of her legacy. That gesture meant more to me than she might ever know. We reconnected, and within two days I asked Taylor if she would illustrate the cover of our December issue, A Life Enlightened, inspired by Juana Inés’s commitment to the pursuit of her passions.
“When I need to clear my brain from being mired down in my current books and projects, I sketch other people’s stories. Sometimes that looks like classical oil paintings, old statues, victorian architecture, fashion spreads from Vogue–and this time it was the striking scenes set up for the November Issue of ELEANORA telling Juana Ines’s story. They felt more like pages of a book than a typical spread.” –Taylor Dolan
When I admire Taylor’s work, it makes me feel a palpable nostalgia for the more innocent days of childhood, married with the weighted nuances of adulthood. Her characters harbor visible emotional complexities that we don’t always understand or appreciate until we grow older and live a little. Worldly and voracious in the way she inhales stories of the past and present, Taylor’s mind is a wonderland. All you have to do is visit her website or her Instagram to see her imagination’s inner workings and observe her genius.
“I am an illustrator by trade. So, when I was asked to create the December cover, I created a story in my head: a young woman proud of her heritage, with her head held high and ready to take on the world. I illustrated the kind of woman who doesn’t apologize for taking up space, the kind of woman most of us work everyday towards being.” –Taylor Dolan
Now back in the US after five years in the UK, Taylor recently graduated from the Cambridge School of Art and holds an MA in Children’s Book Illustration. On her bedside table are copies of classics: Matilda by Roald Dahl, The Phantom Tollbooth by Jules Fieffer and Norton Juster, and Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson. That visual and literary inspiration is an apparent undercurrent undulating throughout all of her creations. Only time will tell which magical adventure she’ll illustrate next.
Connect with Taylor Dolan at TaylorDolanArt.com, and on Instagram at @taylordolanart.
Edited from an interview by Eleanora Morrison.