Welcome to the last installment of HANDMADE HOLIDAY, a blog series that gives a glimpse into the studios and working practices of three of my favorite artists. When searching for holiday gifts for your lovelies this year, please consider supporting makers who are creating one-of-a-kind, beautiful and functional artwork.
Elizabeth Graeber‘s work is all across Washington, D.C. Her paintings hang in coffee-shops, her murals grace the outside of independently-owned stores, and her illustrated cookbook collaborations pop up in local bookstores and even Anthropologie. Her fanciful portraits of people, animals, and more have drawn comparisons to prominent artists like Maira Kalman. Elizabeth doesn’t mind the association, but she’s doing something a little different and completely her own.
Although I knew of Elizabeth, she and I finally met through our mutual friend Emily of Nothing in the House pies and found we had a huge lot in common – our mutual affinity for plants and illustration was just the tip of the iceberg. And then I got to see her studio, a light-drenched space at DC Arts Studios in one of the only shared studio spaces in the city. Her space is complete eye candy with plants hanging from the ceiling and colors vibrating everywhere.
You can find more from Elizabeth in her shop, where she sells her prints, holiday cards, tote bags, cookbooks, pillows, ceramics and much, much more. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too. Enjoy!
How were you first introduced to your craft, and how did you know this was something you wanted to pursue?
I have always like to draw so I decided to become an illustrator! I went to MICA in Baltimore. I think theres so much to do with drawing, I can illustrate books, magazines, newspapers, websites, murals, fabric, ceramics, almost anything.
Describe your creative process from inception to completion.
I start with an idea, either for a commission or my own project and then do a sketch in a sketchbook. Then I use black pen on smooth white bristol paper. I add shadows with ink wash, color with watercolor and details and more color with gauche paint. To finish I scan the drawing and resize for whatever it is for.
What are the strengths and challenges of your personal studio space?
I really like having a giant window! Nice to look out and perfect for all the plants. And being able to walk to my studio is nice.
How has living and working in Washington, D.C. had an impact on your work?
Meeting lots of nice people with all different interests. People also seemed to be motivated to work on creative projects. Having the museums so close by and all free is nice too. My favorite is the National Portrait Gallery and the Botanical Museum.
Which artists have inspired your work in some way?
Maira Kalman, Quintin Blake, Saul Steinburg, Lilli Carre, Esther Pearl Watson, Sara Fanelli.
What are you working on now, and what’s next?
All photographs by Jess Schreibstein