Coffee with a Creative: Eva Ellie

I am very excited to introduce you to Eva Ellie today! She is an artist who I discovered early on and have been continually inspired by her sense of whimsical illustration. She resides in Norway- a dream country and also a land I'm sure would bring about imaginative inspiration. After learning more about her through our coffee conversation (virtual, of course), despite the distance between us, I feel that there is a connection that we share in our work practices and struggles. It makes me appreciate the beauty of her work all the more and I hope you will too.

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What's one of your first memories where art played an integral role in your life?

Art and creativity have always played a central role in my upbringing and life. Some of my earliest memories of being influenced by it originate from elementary school. I remember my 4th grade teacher always drawing beautiful illustrations on our classroom chalkboard using colorful chalks, often inspired by our monthly themes or the holidays. I remember I wanted to be like her and be as good in drawing as she was.

Art has somehow always been a way for me to escape reality and became a tool for me to create places where I would like to be instead. While reading books as a little girl I would start imagining what all these worlds and places would look like if they were real. 

In other ways I used art and creating as a reward for myself for finishing homework or tasks I didn’t really want to do. Sometimes I rushed them because I rather spend time on making a clay figure or cut and glue paper collages. I think it was easier for me to express myself through these creative activities, and a way for me to process all the theoretical subjects.

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Why do you create now?

Creating for me is still much like it was for me when I was little. I do it because I love illustrating places and situations that create a certain atmosphere and transport the observer into a different world. Illustration is a way for me to cope with the whole spectrum of emotions, both the good and the bad. I can often look back at old pictures and see what emotions I poured into them. Although it can be really tough to create when I feel down, once I start painting it can really help me get back in a better mood.

I also create because I simply cannot live without it. I tend to get ideas on the strangest locations and the most inconvenient hours, like when I’m supposed to go sleep. Most of the time there are so many ideas floating around in my head, that they can become too many. And so I illustrate them, or sketch since that’s a little quicker!

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What do you consider a successful day's work? 

I don’t have a specific answer to this, it can vary from day to day. Some days are successful because I managed to sketch for an hour. Other days I can feel accomplished because I worked for hours and hours and the time just went so fast that I wish there were more hours. But I guess a good day would consist at least of some painting and working out new ideas, whether that be writing down small stories or making tiny sketches. Most importantly, on a successful day I’m feeling inspired and excited about new ideas and what I’m doing.

How do you seek out opportunities in your work?

At the moment I’m focusing mostly on challenging myself and developing my style while building my portfolio. I haven’t been actively seeking out work opportunities, but the next step I want to take is opening up a small online shop where I can sell originals and prints of my work. I’m also working on some small stories that I would like to get ready for pitching.

What are some things that you struggle with in the creative life?

Oh there can be a lot of struggles some days. Some days I struggle with comparison. There are so many talented and hardworking artists out there that are so good at what they do. I guess the most important thing with this, in my opinion, is what we can learn from other artists and translate into our own work while staying authentic and true to ourselves.

I find my taste in art and illustration is very wide, and it can make it difficult to navigate and find my own voice because I like so many different styles. The past few months I have been trying to take time for myself and just sketch without looking at what others were doing. All of a sudden there appeared a rather different and genuine style than what I had been using for the past years. I guess it can be a good thing to take a little distance from social media when struggling with comparison and finding your own voice!

I also put the bar really high for myself. I constantly want to get better and try to challenge myself doing new things. I think it’s good to challenge your self and develop your methods and techniques, but for me this sometimes results in anxiety. When the bars are too high I can get so anxious that I can’t even start painting, it can feel like there is an invisible barrier that stops me from putting down that paintbrush and paint. A solution for me is to just simply start painting slowly and not expect too much of the result. Most of the time it’s enough just to get over that hump and start creating.

Working a fulltime job on the side is another challenge I’m facing. It’s hard to carve out time after a whole day of working. Luckily my job leaves me with plenty of energy, but there are many days where I just don’t manage to pull myself upstairs into the studio and work. I’m trying to learn to accept that not every day is going to be productive. Some days it might be more important to find inspiration and ideas, while other days might consist of using these ideas to create an actual illustration.

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Who are some other artists/makers that have inspired you along the way?

Too many to write down! I grew up with illustrators like Fiep Westendorp, Beatrix Potter and Leonard Roggeveen, and they still inspire me today. Right now I’m devouring all the works by Theodor Kittelsen, Anton Pieck and Ilon Wikland.

What do you listen to while you work? 

This varies daily. Sometimes I need to work in total silence. Other days I love some upbeat music from the 60s and 70s. Most of the time I have some kind of movie or series running in the background that I have seen many times before. I think it makes it a little bit cozier around me, like there are others around me in the room. Occasionally I listen to podcasts, but I find it hard to concentrate on it while painting so I only hear half of the content being played and end up needing to play it all over again.

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What are you enjoying in your down-time currently?

Well, most of my down time I use illustrating. When I’m not doing that you can find me trying a weird new recipe that I found through Instagram, and ends up looking a lot worse than in the actual photograph. Or you would find me going for a walk or run in the local forest, especially in the summer after a big rain shower, the smells... Also love devouring series on Netflix when everything else gets a bit too much.

Where can I find your work online?

You can find me here:
Website: www.evaellieo.com
Instagram: evaellie_illustration

Thank you Eva, for sharing your heart with me and my readers today! Your honesty is inspiring and beautiful. Now, please go and give her a follow and some love on social media! 

Coffee With A Creative: Esther Clark

I'm always looking for ways to intentionally connect with the faces that I come across online. In thinking about how to utilize my blog space more, I recently came up with the idea to offer interviews (or, less formal, coffee time) with artists around the web that I admire. I love hearing how other makers spend their days, how they deal with the struggles that come along with the job, and where they find their inspiration. I am very pleased to share with you my first Coffee with a Creative, Esther Clark. Esther and I have not yet met in person, but have discovered that we share many similar passions and interests as we have gotten to know each other online over the past year or so. She is a talented artist, hard worker, and overall beautiful human. Her work is delicate and graceful, exuding an old-world quality that is quite simply, gorgeous! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. 

Photo c/o  Katie Kopan

What's one of your first memories where art played an integral role in your life?

I have been doing art for as long as I can remember, and it's hard to pin-point one early memory! I had a best friend growing up who was also really creative, and the two of us loved to get together and write and illustrate our own books! We spent hours drawing and making up stories, and those are some of my sweetest childhood memories! I often think back to those times when I am feeling burned out or in need of inspiration!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

Why do you create now?

I create for two reasons: firstly, to provide for my husband and I - it's our main source of income at the moment. But also because, as cheesy as it sounds, I don't know how to live without creating. My job is also my passion and my favorite pastime, and it's hard to separate between creating for practical reasons and for pleasure. If I'm not creating in some way, be it new prints for my online shop, wedding invitations for a client, or fixing up our new house, I feel so stifled and restless. Art is definitely my vocation!

Photo c/o  Christine Gosch

What do you consider a successful day's work?

I am a big list-maker - nothing brings more satisfaction than being able to check items off a list of tasks! I consider my day to be pretty successful as long as I've completed most (because honestly, days rarely go as we plan and it's nearly impossible to complete everything we want to!) of the tasks I've set for myself. That to-do list can vary greatly from day to day, so there isn't really a set amount of work I need to accomplish in order to feel successful. Some days, I want to complete a myriad of small tasks, while on other days I feel good if I get one major design project done.

How do you seek out opportunities in your work?

My business has two facets: freelance work for clients, and a small online shop of paper goods. Client work is my main focus, and I get most of my clients from Instagram or Pinterest. Since most people find me on social media, I have to maintain a pretty consistent and frequent presence on my platforms to showcase new work and draw people in. I'm still figuring out how to seek out new opportunities for my shop! I'm hoping to expand into wholesaling my prints and cards this year, and I would also like to create some new products! I really appreciate having the shop side of my business because it allows me to try new things and push myself, since I don't have anyone but myself to answer to. I can be a lot more experimental when I'm not working for a client!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

What are some things that you struggle with in the creative life?

One of the biggest things I struggle with is work-life balance. My husband and I both own small businesses that are under two and a half years old, so we are both in the "hustle" phase and are putting lots of hours into our companies. I work a lot more than 40 hours a week and take days off very rarely. Since I work from home and since my job is also my passion, it's hard to draw a line and say, "okay, Esther, enough is enough!" I really appreciate a slower pace of life, I get stressed and anxious easily, and I never saw myself as a business owner, so it's been difficult to learn keep up with the amount of work I have. It's also hard to not have more time for myself and for my husband. It's a constant struggle to maintain my health and the health of my relationships while also accomplishing what I need to in a day!

Who are some other artists/makers that have inspired you along the way?

There are so many inspiring artists out there!! Some of my favorites for photography and interiors are Emilie Anne SzaboMur Lifestyle, and Gillian Stevens. Other painters/illustrators/calligraphers I love are Carleigh Courey Design and Gemma Koomen!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

What do you listen to while you work?

I am a huge British period drama fan! More often than not, I will be working with Poldark or Downton Abbey on in the background. I don't mind watching things over and over again, so I've seen both shows an embarrassing number of times! I will sometimes choose a podcast (Me & Orla's "Hashtag Authentic" is a favorite) or music, but it's usually a period drama, haha!

What are you enjoying in your down-time currently?

I don't have much down time, but when I do, I usually choose to do some work on a home improvement project or bake something tasty!

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Where can someone find your work online?

My website is estherclark.co!

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your working life with us, Esther! It was lovely to hear your thoughts. 

Photos c/o:
Katie Kopan
Emilie Anne Szabo
Christine Gosch
& Esther.

Studio Scenes of August

Wow. I'm not so sure how August went by so quickly, but somehow we're into September already. Sigh. I was hoping to hold onto summer a bit longer but it appears Fall has decided to come to the west coast without much warning. So many things happened this summer, especially in August, so I would like to share some of those with you! I'm finding it difficult to update the blog regularly with how busy I am, so you can expect small updates here and there, as I continue about my busyness. Here are a few things going on in my life: 

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Studio Work: I don't have a picture for this one, but this summer, I started working in the studio of Grace Lee of Eikcam Ceramics as a studio assistant! I've been wanting to work as a studio assistant for a while and this job just kind of happened upon me (God was working behind the scenes on that one!). I have never done ANYTHING with ceramics, so being hired was kind of a miracle and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to learn a new skill (all while being paid!). So far, it's definitely been a real learning curve- my hands are learning to work in ways they haven't before and I've made quite a few mistakes, but I'm confident it will become more natural the more I do. If you're interested in seeing some of Grace's beautiful pieces visit her website or follow along on instagram!

Illustration: I haven't been working as much illustration this summer while I've been focusing more on acrylic canvas paintings, but there have been a few projects on the go. I submitted a piece for Maker's Movement magazine which will be coming out in January. It feels really exciting to know that I will be seeing a illustration of mine in print for the first time. I have also been working on a submission for another print publication. At this point, it's just a possibility, but even the possibility feels pretty darn good. I have also received a few requests for commissions, but my calendar is still open, so if you would like to have a custom house portrait done or if you have another idea for commission, I'm all ears! Throw me your ideas and get on on the bandwagon. Hint: Christmas is a-comin'....

Paintings: I've been moving in a new (or old?) direction and working on a ton of paintings over the past while. I'm finding a whole lot of freedom in my painting days. After starting my 100 Day Project, I began to realize that I have missed expressing emotion through paint. I'm thankful that I felt nudged to start again. I've been experimenting a bit with combining watercolour and acrylic and I'm loving the effects that are forming. All of the current canvas pieces I'm working on are for sale and I'll be posting them in my shop as I get around to it. If you are interested in anything you see here or on my instagram, shoot me a line at jenni.haikonen8@gmail.com and I can give you the details. 

100 Day Project: Speaking of my 100 day project...I've currently got some prints on order for the above paintings! They've been selling like hotcakes (and I'm not even sure what that phrase means). I've been taking pre-orders on these ones, but the listings should be going up in about a week in my shop. These are limited edition 5x7 prints which means that there will only be 10 prints made and once they are all sold, they will not be re-printed. They will be printed on 310gsm watercolour acid-free paper to have the same quality of the original painting. Each will be signed and numbered on the front. Please contact me if you would like to place a hold on one of these prints before they are listed in the shop!

Etsy: Other things selling around the Bottomley Cottage shop- these 5x7 Morning Glory prints and I just sent off another 8x10 Sailboat Print last week! One of my favourite things of the whole online shop process is packaging each print off to send. I'm always looking for new ways to make my packaging prettier - it makes it so fun to send out mail. Let me send you some mail- I'd love to do it! :)

Other Studio Scenes:

10 Artists to Follow on Instagram

 
 

Instagram has grown to become my favourite stream of social media, as I think it is with a lot of visual people. I am often overwhelmed by the amount of inspiration I receive from seeing other creative lives being documented and shared in my feed! I thought I would put together a little list of my favourite artists that I follow. I hope you find someone new to follow, too! Sorry in advance about the very small writing on each picture. I'm still getting used to Squarespace so if someone knows how to change that, please share your insights with me!