Meet the talented Elissa Barber. The artist behind our brand new limited edition collection. Our Founder, Beck Wadworth, has been following Elissa's work for some time now & constantly envisioned how beautiful her single line work would look on the cover of a notebook or diary. One day, she decided to reach out to Elissa & the dream collab became a reality.
To celebrate the launch of the collection, we spoke to Elissa about her career, organisation & of course the new range.
Let's start at the beginning. Tell us about your career & how you started?
Three years into an Applied Art degree (in Illustration) I decided to move abroad to work, live and travel for the best part of my twenties. I returned home to complete my degree and continued working in other creative fields (in fashion product management and briefly in textile design) before deciding to focus on my art career full time. It was a point where I knew I needed trust myself as it would always be all or nothing (I’m quite a workaholic!). A couple years of exhibiting here and there and word of mouth had gotten me to a point where things were busy enough but when my daughter was born in 2018 I knew I wanted to get my work online to find my audience. This proved to be a life – changing effort as it has helped propel me forward to reach a global audience and achieve a sense of autonomy in the decisions I make about what I do and don’t do in my career.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My aesthetic is lived in meets minimal drawing from many forms of art and design, particularly that of the mid to late 20th century. As someone who is aesthetically very sensitive to my environment I want the things I surround myself to feel timeless and refined but warm and organic – nothing overly harsh or utilitarian. Simple yet personal. This comes through in my work and a focus on flowing, evolving linework is the foundation. The female gaze and form generally play a major role in my life and have always informed my subject matter. The depth and range of the emotions we feel and how we react to our world unites women together and I draw from this in subtle ways to manipulate themes that feel personally or socially relevant. I utilize the number three in my work as a compositional tool and to add a layer of depth. It is a number loaded with symbolism – notably its representation of the pasting of time from past, to present and looking forward to the future.
Talk us through some of the career highlights or pinch me moments you have had to date?
There have been a lot in a short period of time and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible designers and have clients that I’ve been a fan of for years before working with. I have loved dance and gymnastics (movement!) for as long as I can remember and am currently working on a somewhat autobiographical piece for Olympic gold medal gymnast Nastia Liukin which I’m really enjoying creating. That all said anytime someone tells me now how much my work means to them or shares a piece they have in their collection with me it fills me with immense satisfaction and a sense of purpose. It is truly indescribable. I certainly make art for myself first and foremost but sharing it with others is a very close second.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Live authentically and work towards making yourself happy first
How did the EB x AOL project come to life & what made you want to move ahead with the limited edition collection & working with the An Organised Life brand?
This is my first time exploring a collaboration as I tend to be focused on my original work but when Beck (Wadworth) reached out to me I was already familiar with her and the brand – even from here in Canada. It became clear that it would be a great pairing after we had our first phone chat. As women who are passionate about what we do, we have a lot in common and it’s been a fun process. The common thread of a refined, timeless aesthetic and relevance to what I do in my work made bringing the two worlds together a perfect fit. The pieces being limited edition makes them feel so special – it is like owning a little piece of my work but in a functional format.
Have you always had a love for putting pen to paper or has it evolved over time?
I knew from a young age that I would work as an artist and drew pictures constantly to the point that it is now compulsive and in a way necessary. Paper and ink are the fundamental tools in my craft and are really all I require to do what I do which is amazingly simple and profound.
What is your favourite piece from the collection & why?
They are all so beautiful and the little thoughtful design details really elevate them all. I love the Daily Planner for it’s functionality and purpose and the blank notebooks for their endless possibility for exploration. The best of both worlds really! I love the idea that my work will form a bit of a connection with someone else putting pen to paper in some way. It’s a beautiful thing to imagine.
Notebook wise - do you prefer lined or plain?
Plain all the way! Everything and anything plain instantly becomes a sketchbook and / or journal. I’m very visual so like to combine drawings and sketches along with notes.
Diary wise - do you prefer a weekly or day per page layout?
I think they serve different purposes and are equally functional but personally prefer the day per page format. It’s so helpful for me to be able to breakdown and itemise my tasks each day and have the space to make any necessary notes all in one place.
What are the top 3 ways you organise your life?
It has become increasingly important that I prioritize efficiently and effectively – especially with a 2.5 year old at home and a very busy art practice. My top 3 ways are:
- I operate on a Must, Should, Nice, Never system and have used this to break out my schedule and tasks and determine their order of completion. Years in I am now at a point where I am very aware of how long things take me and am cognisant not to overwhelm myself with projects that can drain on my creative energy (most of the time!).
- I write everything down. I keep a physical planner as well as notebooks and sketchbooks on hand always. As a visual thinker the act of physically putting my thoughts onto paper allows me to make sense of them.
- I’m also working towards a more and more minimal environment both in my living and studio environments. It keeps my head clear! I’d like to get to that point where something must serve a purpose and / or align with my aesthetic and lifestyle or it goes though this is definitely a work in progress.
Where to from here? What are your goals & dreams for 2021?
Find more balance, enjoy what I have, try to make a positive difference in the world whatever way I can and keep making art I’m proud to share. From there I will keep an open mind and the rest will take care of itself I hope.
Shop the Limited Edition Elissa Barber x AOL Collection HERE
Follow Elissa Barber HERE / Visit her website HERE