Wallace Elizabeth, designer on Art Wow - Interview
Designers

Wallace Elizabeth – kitsch designs, famous faces, bold patterns and the c-word

From unique celebrity portraits to motivational typography, including the odd rude word or two, Wallace Elizabeth has designed it all! Her bold use of colour and patterns shows off her maximalist style, whilst her designs always stay up to date with the latest gift and interior trends. Never afraid of shying away from anything bold, colourful and in-you face, her designs are definitely the perfect statement pieces for any home!

Read on for some more information about the artist herself and her creative journey to date…

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your name? Where are you based? What does a typical day look like to you?

Hello! I’m Wallace and I live in North Wales. A typical day for me: stumble out of bed and straight to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition, yawn, stretch and try to come alive. But no, it’s usually a cup of tea and then straight to my 9 to 5 job. After work I like to go for a walk, make some dinner and then have an hour or two doing something creative – it’s my relax and unwind time. Except if I’m really getting into the groove with something, then time run’s away with me and before I know it’s midnight!

How would you describe your style of work?

I definitely don’t have a niche; I never have had. Although there’s always been an abundance of colour in my work, even if I’m using a minimal palette – I love to use punchy, vibrant colours. It’s rare that I’ll stick to a style. I love anything kitsch; it usually creates a strong emotion within people and it’s very like marmite, people love it or hate it and I like that.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in life?

I’ve had some great advice throughout my life, usually from my Mum. The piece of advice she gave that always sticks with me is “You can achieve anything you want in life, if you really want it enough”.  I’ve also had great advice from work colleagues/mentors, such as “Nobody knows what they’re doing”, a great piece of advice when you’re feeling the dreaded imposter syndrome kick in. I read an interview with Elizabeth Olsen recently, her sisters gave her advice that really resonated with me, “No, is a full sentence”. I’m a people pleaser so I feel like I have to explain myself if there’s something I don’t want to do, so I’m trying to keep this in the back of my mind as a little daily mantra.

What inspires you?

For me, inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I could be scrolling through Instagram and see something that inspires me or I can stumble across an artist on Tiktok who has a great style. Advertising, TV, music, decades in time…. inspiration can be found in anywhere. Interior Design always inspired me, particularly over the last year. We’ve realised we spend so much time in our homes, so why not really make it our own and go for it! I’ve always been a massive fan of maximalism, an eclectic mish mash of assorts. And of course, other Art Wow artists!

Is there a piece of artwork on Art Wow that you are most proud of? Why?

I’m probably most proud of ‘Dolly’, I think a lot of artists never feel fully satisfied with things they create. We’ll usually look back at it and think ‘Hmm, if I did it again, I’d probably change this’ or there’s generally something we’re not fully happy with – we can be very self-critical. Buy ‘Dolly’, she just feels complete. The composition feels right, the colour pallet just works and the obvious…. it’s Dolly Parton – such an iconic and inspirational woman, her Dolly ‘look’ is brilliant. Big hair, bold makeup, outfits adorned with crystals & tassels aplenty, what’s not to love?!

If your artwork were music, what would it sound like?

I love this question! It depends on what I’m creating, so I’m going to go with Jazz…which I absolutely hate! There’s never a rhythm, it goes where the mood takes it, it’s offbeat and random – and that’s how my art feels. It depends what I’m working on. When I had my Pop Art phase it probably would have sounded like the decade, so lots of Beach Boys, Nancy Sinatra, The Supremes…the list is endless. I’m loving 70’s inspired typography at the moment which feels very Northern Soul (my personal favourite) or like the ‘Hilltop’ advert  by Coca-Cola.

What artist, past or present has inspired you?

I have 3: Andy Warhol, Vladimir Tretchikoff & Banksy. When I was very young, I remember seeing Warhol’s Marilyn and Campbells soup. It was so bright, bold and graphic. I loved that he’d be inspired by an everyday object or popular culture and create multiple colour-ways for each of his collections. Vladimir Tretchikoff was the first print I ever bought when I was around 16 years old. Everything about his ‘Green Lady’ series I loved; they had bold uses of colour, but were still dark and a bit moody – they definitely drew you in. Exotic and beautiful subjects, I just love them and still occasionally come across them at auctions. I feel like this is where my love of kitsch truly started. And finally, Banksy, not so much for the art itself, but the subject matter and not conforming to the norm, usually controversial and always thought provoking.

Who are your biggest influences?

Everything influences me! Popular culture is a broad influence but definitely my biggest. As I said, I don’t have a niche and I’m inspired by anything & everything.

What was the last gift you gave someone?

The last gift I gave was to my Mum for Mother Day, a bouquet of flowers and retro inspired kitchen appliances…sounds boring, but she really wanted them, I promise!

How did you get started as an illustrator?

I don’t think I ever ‘started’, I just continued what I’d always done. Since being little I was always doodling something. When I studied art in College, my art history lecturer really opened my eyes to the world of art and all the different areas – graphic design, illustration, advertising, animation and everything in between. She was such an inspiring teacher, from her own sense of style to even the way she decorated her lecture room. She had a chandelier and a marble fireplace flanked by a pair of wing-backed chairs, a cabinet of curios, and had every wall and surface covered. It was an amazing space to feel inspired!

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I’d like to think I’d be a leopard, because they’re very cool looking aren’t they? Great colours, brilliant pattern – but in reality, I’m probably a sloath…very laid back and a go with the flow kinda gal.

How did you develop your distinct style? Was it an experimental process?

I’m always experimental!  Recently I’ve started drawing and painting again. It’s so easy to create digital art/make something in Photoshop but lately I’ve felt like I’ve spent so much time staring at a screen. Now I’m wanting to move back to actual pen and paper, letting things go wrong, making mistakes or, as Bob Ross would say ‘Happy little accidents’.

What have been your biggest creative challenges to date?

Either having a complete creative block or having so many ideas and thoughts that I’m unable to even start something!

In one word, describe how art makes you feel.

Cathartic.

Amy Mahoney

Working for Art Wow was a natural choice for me! After graduating with a first from my Fine Art degree, I didn’t really know where in the art-world I fit in, but as soon as I started working at Art Wow I realised that my passion for art far exceeded just making it myself.  My role allows me to work with other artists to make their designs come to live through the products we hand-print, with me personally being the queen of mug printing. I am continually inspired by the work our artists create, with their being nothing more satisfying then printing a new design for the first time.

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