InterviewsMay 22, 2019

Meet the Artist: Elissa Barber

Written by All Sorts Of
Photographed by Tessa Neustadt

Getting to know Elissa Barber has been an absolute pleasure, and we’re so excited that you finally get the chance to. Elissa is an Ontario-based artist that is currently specializing in single, continuous gestural line work that evokes a really special kind of emotion. See it for yourself and you’ll know what we mean. Her work is simple and elegant, and what you can’t see from the art, is that Elissa is just as elegant and lovely as well.

It was important for Elissa to find a way to bridge her love for interior and fashion design with her love for art — and over the course of evolving as an artist, she also managed to turn her art into a business. Rooted in the interior design business ourselves, our fondness for beautiful artwork is obvious, and when we discover someone like Elissa, we jump at the chance to hang her art on as many walls as we can.

Our team over at Shoppe recently began carrying Elissa’s work, both in-stores and online, and we can’t get enough. And it’s your lucky day, because if you haven’t heard, Elissa is gracing us with her presence at our Shoppe Pacific Palisades in a few short weeks. If you’re in Los Angeles, join us for a special sunset happy hour event with Elissa on June 5 from 5-7PM! It’s totally free, you’ll get to meet Elissa, see her latest artwork in person, and ask her any questions about her process. Psssst. We’ll be giving away a special gift from Elissa (limited availability), so be sure to swing by! RSVP HERE!

A conversation with Elissa Barber…

Tell us about your creative journey. How did you come about line-based art?

I have specialized in line based work since back in 2004 when I started art school. When I first began life drawing as a discipline and learned to gesture the human form, it became something I naturally incorporated into my drawing practice. The flowing, minimal, line work I’m doing now took shape in 2011 during my graduating year (I took some time off in between studies to live abroad) and has developed since then.


How did you turn your passion for art into a business and brand?

It actually took many years for me to feel okay with combining my art with business and to see it as a brand. I have an honours degree in Illustration (more communication, business based arts) but was also trained pretty intensively in figurative drawing and painting from life. I have worked professionally in trend forecasting, as a buyer and product manager for some rather large brands and companies plus have some marketing background. It just FEELS so much different when you’re applying this wealth of experience to something that is also deeply personal. I have now gotten to a point where I know myself and what I like and I genuinely LOVE my own drawings. It feels like a responsibility in a way to share and build something that feels authentically me and social media has allowed me to reach a wider audience than I’d ever dreamed. The irony is that I had been a bit resistant in using it as a tool until the latter half of 2018. Now the possibilities feel endless.


Talk to us about some of the biggest challenges of being in the creative industry. What have been some unexpected road blocks you’ve faced?

My work doesn’t necessarily fit a traditional mould as I’ve never been too keen on a traditional gallery arrangement nor overly interested in the typical licensing route often taken by illustrators. This means I didn’t really have a template to work from! I’m deeply passionate about interior and fashion design and wanted to find a way to sort of bridge those creative worlds with my work which has taken some time and planning.


With challenge comes success. What have been some of the most rewarding things to date?

I think having so many of the women who inspire me creatively want to work with me and own my art is pretty amazing.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, either professionally or personally?

I had been moving away from my very simple, timeless aesthetic in a more process based direction involving analogue printmaking and more decorative paintings when I got pregnant. At this point I had to stop working with all of the solvents and chemicals and essentially change my art practice completely. My husband suggested I get back to my figurative line drawings since I’d loved (and was just at ease) making them. Glad I agreed.


What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career in creative arts?

Be very authentic and specific when finding your voice and once you’ve found it, shout it at anyone who will listen. Then stay in your lane but keep evolving.


What does a day-in-the-work-life of Elissa Barber look like?

It’s so regimented! I wake up at 6:30 to make coffee and squeeze in a bit of work, be it answering emails or updating my site. Then I get Fiore (or Fifi, my sixteen month old daughter) her breakfast once she is up. We have play time at the park and / or running errands etc. until her nap time at 11:30 at which point I flat out work on sketches or finished drawings or whatever needs to be completed until she’s up again a couple hours later. Then a snack and more play time until dinner, bath and bedtime for baby at which point I go back to working on more drawings, planning projects and / or setting up shipments for orders until about 11:00. A quick social media browse and planning for the following day before I get to bed around 11:30-12.


What are five things you can’t live without right now?

Muffaletta on everything, coffee, a perfectly worked in drawing tool, Fiore’s excellent sleep routine, podcasts.


What’s next for Elissa Barber?

The possibilities feel endless. I’m going to continue producing figurative, line based work and let the rest fall into place organically.

Shoppe Elissa’s Work

Portrait, Blank Ink on Brown


Portrait Black Ink on White


Portrair Nude Ink on Nude


Portrait Black Ink on Cream


Portrait Black Ink


Portrait Black Ink on White


Portrait Nude on Nude


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