This artist feature is pretty fun because we’re interviewing an artist who has paved her way via quilting, technology and design. Libs Elliott is a new artist on GelaSkins so we thought we’d take a wee moment to get to know her and share some fast facts about her with all of you! Read on to learn more about her, her craft, tattoos and what she would be doing if she wasn’t designing and building quilts!
First things first… is it Elizabeth or Libs?
My real name is Elizabeth and I actually really like it. Libs is a nickname that’s stuck since childhood and that’s what most people call me. I’m cool with either one.
What drew you to a career as a quilter and is it quilting that drew you textile manufacturing, or vice versa?
I started quilting as a hobby when I found that my full-time gig wasn’t allowing me any creative output. Eventually, I quit my job and made money by making quilts, designing quilt patterns and teaching classes. The next natural step for me was to begin designing surface patterns because, as fun as it is to buy fabric, I liked the idea of having my own fabric designs in my quilts. Making work by hand is at the core of what I do but branching out into manufactured goods has always been a goal of mine.
How did you discover your talent?
It all really started after I did a collaboration with Joshua Davis (www.joshuadavis.com). He provided me with a code framework that would allow me to randomly design geometric quilts. I made our initial project and it ended up getting covered by a few notable tech blogs. Then people began asking me for custom quilts and I just kept saying yes. It was something I loved to do – making quilts and sending them out into the world to start their own journeys. I wanted to expose others to the way I was combining technology with traditional craft, so I did a few exhibitions and design shows. The press coverage and opportunities all just sort of snowballed from there.
Did you go to school? If so, what for and how has it influenced what you do today?
I went to three schools - Ottawa U for photography, OCAD for textiles and photography, then Trent U for a B.A. in cultural studies. The only thing my formal education proves is that I can never settle on just one focus. I always want to try new things.
Where do you find your biggest inspiration?
This question is the worst. Hahaha… my inspiration is always changing. There can’t be just one thing. Music, travel, reading. Sometimes I need to get away to find it and other times I can just hear a great song and inspiration turns on.
What is your studio like?
It’s compact and quite a mess at the moment. After a very full year of work, it’s both nice and horrifying to not be able to see the floor. It’s full of artwork by some of my favourite artists like Bonethrower, Ben Venom, Erin M. Riley, Mike Giant and Hydro 74. I use a mid-century teak dining table as my main sewing surface. It’s the table I ate all my meals at as a kid and makes me feel like my family is always with me. I’m looking to expand in 2018 since I’m drowning in fabric. Hopefully, I can find a decent space here in Toronto for the right price.
You have kids, a pup and a main squeeze. Does your family influence your artistic process at all?
My husband is a huge support. In addition to just picking up my parental slack, he’s my sounding board for new ideas and designs. The kids and dog help me to decompress when things get stressful at work and they’re also the main reason I work so hard. So they don’t directly influence what I make but they are the reason I can do it.
We have to ask, you’ve got such a unique look for a quilter… Most people might envision their grandma when they think of quilters. Can you talk to what has inspired the tattoos? Part 2 to this question: do you have any tattoos inspired by your designs, or know of anyone who has gotten a tattoo of your work on themselves?
I’ve been getting tattooed since I was fifteen, which was more than a while ago. I was into punk rock and hardcore as a kid and was part of such a tight-knit community. On the inside, I was sort of shy, so part of getting tattoos was that it forced me to stand out. Despite being an introvert, I’ve never wanted to be the same as everyone else. I know there’s at least one person who has my diamond logo tattooed on them which is pretty cool.
There’s a changing tide within the quilting community. Are there more and more young people taking up the craft?
There were a lot of women (and some men) who came decades before me as fantastic quilters and I have huge respect for them. I may look different on the outside but we’re all just making work we’re passionate about. The quilting community is global and expansive and I think it’ll only continue to grow. By designing more modern quilts and fabrics, by using a design approach that involves technology, I’m hoping to inspire some younger people to try out the craft, lure them in and get them hooked.
If you could describe your work in three words or less, what would you say? (eg-- Loud & Impactful, Colourful and Mesmerizing)
Sexy Explosive Goodness
Laslty, the ever popular question: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now… what career or creative path do you think you would take?
I worked in advertising as a project manager for about 15 years prior to this. I’d probably still be in that industry because, as crazy as it can be, it was also exciting to work with so many creative people and see some awesome campaigns go out into the world. It’s an industry that’s constantly trying to adapt to new ways of communicating and I like that challenge.
*all photos are artists own*