There are certain things in life which you just know if you wear/do/put up in your house… you will instantly feel pretty bad ass and cool. And anything created by artist Elizabeth Ilsley is just that. We were lucky enough to interview Elizabeth pre-Christmas, and it’s so exciting to have her kick off our PARROT Talks series for 2021.
Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for taking time to be a part of PARROT Talks! Can you please start by telling us a bit about who you are, and what you do?
I’m Elizabeth Ilsley, I’m an artist who specialises in prints and multimedia projects. I’m mostly known for taking second hand leather and repurposing them with paint and making wearable, ‘instagramable” art on people’s backs. For the past five years I’ve taken old vintage glamour an pornographic imagery and over layered my own words onto them re-imaging the image to a funny, feminist ideal.
How did you get into your line of work?
I have always been creative in many ways and I fell in love with art in high school and knew it was an industry I wanted to be a part of, maybe more behind the scenes at first. However after gaining some confidence as I got older and went to art school, I painted on the back of a leather jacket, after being inspired by the book ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith, and it just took off from there.
Have you always had quite a daring sense of style when it comes to your art? I love how bold your work is – is that part of who you are or did you develop that style over time?
I would say yes I do, I was brought up encouraged to be different and express myself so even from the clothes I’ve worn to the music I listen to, daring isn’t very different to me. What I make just comes straight from my head and what I surround myself with. A lot of aestetics I like come from film, music and culture. I try to apply beauty and being daring to my everyday life and it comes out in my work.
Where do you find inspiration?
For the writing part of my work I take inspiration from everyday life, relationships, the hopeless scenarios I find myself in. So it kind of works out like a diary in that respect. I try not to take too much inspiration from other artists as that wouldn’t be true to myself, I don’t want to make the same stuff as other people are or have.
You’ve made prints for some really incredible names, can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on and how they came about?
I think the best print design collaboration that came about is the House Of Holland project which came from working on a shoot where I was modelling adidas trainers and the stylist liked my work so much she introduced me to Henry Holland and it all happened so quickly and brilliantly. I made original artworks that were printed onto about half of the collection and that was a real dream come true for me.
Your work is provocative (in all the right ways!), can you tell us about any reactions you’ve had to your art that have stuck in your memory?
Thank you! I’ve had many good reactions to my artwork where the viewer has giggled, and ideally for me that’s the best reaction to have. I want my work to make people smile and laugh even, I think humour is so underrated in a gallery environment and I don’t really understand why. Laughter and joy itself is such a powerful reaction.
What are some of the biggest highs and lows you’ve experienced with your own small business?
Biggest highs for me are always seeing how people display their art works in their homes, the biggest lows for me are handling stress and anxiety of running everything on my own. My confidence tends to get a lot lower each year and I’m not sure why.
PARROT Talks is all about sharing the love and shouting about small businesses – can you tell us some of your favourites? We will share links to all of their pages.
And finally, what can we expect to come next for Elizabeth Ilsley Art?