Monday, 28 March 2016

Etsy shop find...a chat with Esme Shapiro!

This months featured etsy shop owner is Brooklyn based illustrator Esme Shapiro.
Utilising techniques and media such as watercolour and gouache, Esme creates such a lovely feel within each painting and uses the most beautiful of colour palettes throughout all of her artworks.
The majority of the designs featured below are for sale as prints in her etsy shop.

So, lets get to know Esme...her design heroes, her career so far, and her big loves in life...

Grab that cuppa, and as it's the long Easter weekend, 
a cheeky hot cross bun, mmmm.
(It would be rude not to no?)

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background... 

I grew up in the hills of Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. 
I would say my love and appreciation of illustration and story telling sprung from my relationship to my home town. 
I was endlessly fascinated by the landscape and often found that the hikes I would go on would help further my own aesthetic...the cactus studded gardens...the drying yellowed grass -  the 1920s craftsman houses with tiled mushroom roofs. 
I found myself enamored with the history of the land too, and how those stories interconnect with what is going on in the neighborhood today. 
During the turn of the 20th century, Laurel Canyon is where Hollywood elite would keep their hunting lodges. 
If you go on long hikes you can find remenants of that time, like old wooden combs, tincture bottles, and there even is an abandoned well. 
This sense of wonder cultivated my interest in multiple worlds existing at once, and I started exploring my own universes in my paintings. 

I studied visual arts at an arts high school in downtown Los Angeles called Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). 
I went on to further my studies in Providence, Rhode Island at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). It was at RISD I developed my technique, and grew to love watercolor and gouache. I devoted long hours to my studio practice and eventually opened an etsy shop while I was still taking classes. It really helped me learn to navigate the business side of art. My true love though, will always be children's books. I wrote and illustrated my first one while I was still at RISD too. That book, OOKO, will be published this July by Tundra Books of Penguin Random House Canada.

2. What books/ magazines are currently on your coffee table?

My coffee table is currently home for "The Book of Symbols" distributed by Taschen books and "JAPAN: a History of Art" by Bradley Smith. 

3. Who are your design heroes and what inspires you?

I am really inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the elder because they both had an ability to create dense landscapes littered with human bodies, intricately involved in various activities. 
Both painters had the ability to create some sort of visual harmony among the chaotic scenes. 
I am also very inspired by the work of Carl Jung, 
especially his writings on the human experience and our relationship to symbols.

4. Tell us about a typical day for you...

I wake up, meditate, walk my gremlin of a dog, make a pile of eggs, and then paint for sometimes 6 hours on end. 
I often wont stop until I realize I haven't eaten or left the house for a long time, and my hands are hurting. 
By that time I often like to unwind by eating noodle soup with my friends. 

5. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?

When it comes to my creative process, I am quite mystified by it and don't quite know how to explain it. 
Sometimes I gather ideas for paintings from dreams, stories I read, but most often ideas seem to come out of nowhere. 
My Mother likes to say that I have some sort of celestial antenna where ideas come and go as they please. 
I do know that I usually have an image of what I want the piece to look like in my head before I make it, but often I am surprised by how much the materials I am working with alter the outcome of the final piece.

6. What’s the most popular item for sale in your etsy shop? And your personal favourite?

The most popular piece in my Etsy shop is "The Bath House" limited editon prints. My personal favorite is a recently released limited edition print called "Paradisio." 

7. Why do you like being an illustrator/designer? (in 10 words or less)

I like being an illustrator because it is my way of feeling connected to other people.

8. Where do you work? Describe your studio/work area...
I currently live and work in the same tiny room in my birdhouse of an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. 
All of my work is very small so it works great. 
I have lots of plants, books, and tiny sushi erasers I got in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles when I was a kid. 

9. What art do you have on your wall?

My wall has a hand-cut paper mural I made of a swan on a pond. 
I also have an eerie portrait from the fifties of a little boy in an white elf hat. 
The rest of the paintings on my wall are tiny portraits of my ancestors running in the forest, as well as a small oval portrait of an unknown french duchess.

10. In three words, describe your work...

Ethereal, Babushka, Utopia

11. Who are some of your favourite illustrators/designers and why?

My favorite illustrator is Maira Kalman. I really relate to her sense of play in her work, as well as her love of stories.

12. Top 5 favourite things in life?

Soup, Buttermilk biscuits, Dogs with squishy faces, The Moon, Ghost stories

A big thanks to Esme for giving us an insight into her world.

You can follow Esme here...

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