This interview was originally featured on the Desktop Magazine website
Born and educated in Australia, stylist, graphic designer, illustrator and avid fan of all things beautiful, Elisa has spent years working with people to create gorgeous visual landscapes and keepsakes, weaving mediums together with allegorical needle and thread.Now based in Paris, Elisa’s work has enchanted audiences throughout the world, through various exhibitions and magazines such as Madison, Easy Living, Yen and desktop, through clients such as Mambo and STYLE.COM as well as gracing covers of inimitable Hallmark cards in the UK. She was also recently selected as one of three finalists to become South Australian Young Artist of the Year.
What brought you overseas and how has that move shaped your career/life?
I had lifelong dream of living abroad so that is ultimately what fueled my desire to jump on a plane with my whole life crammed into one suitcase. An internal checklist to do this before I turned 30, a need for change and crazy new challenges also helped.It has shaped my career/life in different ways. When I was in Australia I had other jobs to fall back on and never relied solely on illustration as an income. So the move has made me look at my passion like a career, I guess… so very grown up of me. I am more proactive in thinking of ways I can grow and expand now.It has also given me one of the most beautiful backdrops to create art from. Beautiful scenery and interesting people, from the impeccably dressed, uptight older women to hobo’s and their cardboard houses, there is never a shortage of stories and inspiration.
Was there anything good or bad that surprised you when you moved overseas?
Yes, certainly, so many things;
The attitude of the French – no, it is not just a stereotype.
The size of apartments – I didn’t even believe it was legal to rent an apartment under 10 metres square until I moved to Paris.
The beauty and charm of the old – old things have a back story and that’s what makes them so interesting. Paris has a lot of old things, buildings, antiques, clothes, furniture – all so inspiring. This is very different to Australia as our history is relatively short.
What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced as an ex-pat creative?
I guess one of the biggest challenges is to get involved in the Paris art scene. As a freelancer I can work from anywhere in the world and take my inspiration from them but it doesn’t mean I get actively involved in the scene here. Illustration is very solitary (unless you are in a shared studio) but I would love to get involved in the art culture here more. I just have to improve my French a little.
Tell me a little about your work situation at the moment, where you are working from, what sort of work, what a typical day might be for you, any interesting, exciting crazy people you’ve met.
I work from home so it is very calm and quiet. I get up in the morning and most days try to go for a walk to my local boulangerie and pick up some fresh bread and grab some fresh air, have a coffee, then go back to the house and start working. I must have good music and a selection of old movies to watch when I draw. I am also an awesome procrastinator so I like to give myself the time to get that out of the way before I start drawing.
For a while when I would need a break I would go down to the restaurant underneath my house and play chess with some locals. I hadn’t played chess since I was 10 so would mostly get my ass kicked but it was something fun to do in the wee hours of the morning for a little drawing break.
What’s the perception of Australian creatives and Australians in general in Paris?
Australian creatives are pretty much an unknown here. Which can be both good and bad. From what I can see the French do like Australians in general though and think our country is one of the best in the world. I can’t count how many French people have told me I am MAD for leaving Australia, they are all dying to get there.
Any advice for creatives thinking of making a similar move?
Learn French first. I got swept up in the romance of moving to Paris, I didn’t think the language would be an issue. It is.
If you are a freelancer have a good client base before leaving. The French are quite hard to crack, so it’s nice to have people who you know to work with when you arrive to take the pressure off when you arrive.
You don’t come to Paris to make lots of money, you come to get inspired and create and enjoy life, I think there are perhaps better places to move if you want to get rich.
What’s the most important thing you’ve discovered about yourself living abroad?
How liberating a big move can be. Discovering new things is intoxicating, new flavours, people and places. It really awakens all of you and is so inspiring. I cant believe I didn’t do it sooner.