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Elisabeth Ladwig Captures the Mystery of Nature and Magic
June 23rd, 2017
Elisabeth Ladwig's work is the convergence of a graphic design career and a personal fondness for collage art. Her creative process is guided by the idea that all of life’s mysteries fall within the parameters of scientific explanation, that science abides by the Laws of Nature, and that all of it is magical.

Your website mentions that your inspiration stems from the relationship between science, nature and magic. What does this mean exactly, and how did you first discover the connection?

I'm not sure why, but I've always been fascinated with the inexplicable. I remember lying in the grass as a child under the all too familiar pre-tornado skies of the midwest. On the ground, it seemed bright and still and peaceful; in the sky, it was eerie and dark and swirling. The juxtaposition of this scene felt like a page out of a storybook... it was science and it was nature and it was magic all at once. My little brain was swirling as well, which concluded in the end that all of the world’s mysteries must fall within the parameters of scientific explanation, that science must abide by the Laws of Nature, and that all of it is magical. Today, I often return to themes in my work that touch on what is real and what is not, and our power to break down the walls of humble subjectivity and limited perception to discover life options we have otherwise believed to be impossible or even non-existent. 

How did you get started in the visual arts?

It wasn’t until adulthood, after a lot of soul-searching, that I shifted career paths. I started as a graphic designer in the music industry where I designed CD packages and advertisements for newspapers and trade magazines. This digital experience offered a solid foundation for the work I do now, which is essentially a convergence of digital imaging, photography, and collage art.  


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How do you grow and promote your business?

Consistency is really important. Producing new work regularly is probably the best way for an artist to spend the work day, but as most artists discover, there’s a whole business side to the equation that is very time-consuming. It takes time to learn how to balance everything. I send out an email when I have new work or a new event to share, and mail one or two postcards a year to a snail mail list. Three to five social media posts a week is plenty to keep in touch with my audience, primarily on Instagram (@elisabethonearth) and Facebook. I also enter one contest a month, preferably for a live show (as opposed to an online show) or a magazine. Finally, I try to take a couple new online classes each year in photography, photo compositing, lighting, posing, art business, etc. There is always something to learn. 

Where do you get your ideas? 

Whether I am hiking, walking the dog, or just spending time in the yard, I am always on the lookout for treasures from nature. So many beautiful, fascinating things go unnoticed when we’re not paying attention. Just last week I photographed a black-winged damselfly, a luna moth, and found a robin’s egg all in one day! I have a small collection, some items of which I’ve already used in my art, some still await their photo shoot. Sometimes I’ll take a piece down and fiddle with it until it starts to become part of a scene in my head. This is what happened with some shells I had collected off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Maine, and County Clare, Ireland. 

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Is your art autobiographical?

The short answer is no, in the sense that the works don’t tell stories about specific events in my life; but I suppose it has to come from somewhere, right? I kind of do things backwards: rather than consciously deciding to create an artwork about this or that, the concept and basic design come first without much regard to meaning. From there, it develops more intuitively. Sure, sometimes an artwork will start to make more sense during the creative process, but many times an artwork is nearly finished and I still don’t know what it’s telling me. That’s what I love, though: I love to look at it later, as an observer, and draw meaning from it, and that meaning might change the next time I look at it. This is what inspired me to release a deck of cards to use for self-reflection.

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What advice do you have for other artists?

Well, I suppose there are three things:

1. Keep a running list of your monthly accomplishments. People can be their own worst critics, and artists can get a lot of rejection before they see success. It’s important to have concrete reminders why you’re super amazingly awesome. 

2. Don’t underprice your work – i.e., don’t decide upfront what others can or cannot afford. Some marketing experts will tell you it is actually easier to sell something that is more expensive, as the higher price puts the work on another level – something to be admired and cherished.

3. There’s a quote that I love by author Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Inspiration doesn’t always come easily, but when you’re open to it, you find it’s everywhere, sometimes in the most unlikely places. As I sit here out on a restaurant porch, there is a large side of mixed greens on my plate. If I take a moment, I notice all the different shapes and colors of the leaves. They’re actually really pretty. How might I take this one idea and use it as a springboard for a new magical scene?

To see more of Elisabeth's work, visit her website: elisabethonearth.com, and on Instagram @elisabethonearth

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