Elisabeth Kiss was recommended to me as an artist a while ago. She is a textile illustrator, graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art School of Design in 2012, made wooden sculptures for the music venue Vega in Copenhagen and collaborated with fashion designer Milla Jamila. And more. I asked her a few questions about her work and herself. To start with: what exactly IS a textile illustrator?
You’re a textile illustrator. Can you explain more about that?
Textile illustration is a word/concept I made up after ending my graduation. I suddenly had time and space to consider my own role as a working artist and designer. A lot of questions went through my mind and some answers appeared clear to me. The reason why I call myself textile illustrator is that it opens more doors. It is not just textile design that is my passion though. It is very much to be able to use my way of seeing pictures in patterns, drawings, textile, wood, paper or whatever that has a textured surface. For example when I work with collages, it is more then just cutting in paper, it is also a method I use when I do scenography or patterns.
Can you tell a bit more about yourself?
I am originally from a little island called Funen (FYN in danish). I lived half of my life in the city and the other half out in the country. I had the gift to explore both, living in an apartment with technology all over and the big contrast of living in the country with wide views and animals to look after. As beautiful and attractive as the wildlife can be, as boring and insisting it can be as well. So very early in my life I felt an urge to come to the big city, to meet other people ‘like myself’. Therefore I moved to Copenhagen in my first twenties.
I still live in Copenhagen and love it. I have been drawing a lot all my life and have always had a strong relation to textiles. I was always aware about how people and rooms around me looked (with textiles in mind). Very early I had a relation to working with textile and at the same time I was constantly drawing.
How did you become a textile illustrator?
It was a very natural mix of living out my one side being very passionate illustrator and not wanting to let it go. And the love for colors, materials and patterns and my education as a textile designer. I wanted to communicate clearly about my work and it felt wrong to say anything else then textile illustrator.
What makes your work typically yours?
I am always trying to let the immediate and childish creativity have as much room in my work as possible. It is always a study of new ways to use old ideas, or old ways to use new ideas. I love to work conceptually with my projects. My work is an investigation in how to use my interest for composition, color and material in different forms of communication so that I can give the story a tactile touch.
Which works are you most proud of?
The projects that are mostly alive. Some of them are collaborations, some not. I did a series of collages with print recently which I am very proud of. I am also working on a textile illustration project right now which i think is going to be very innovative. The project is called MaskMeUp, where I am drawings masks and when I am done with the drawings I am going to paint them on people’s faces and do a portrait of the people with the mask ‘on’.
What is the coolest project you have been involved in so far?
The coolest project I have been involved in is difficult to say when I work in so many different directions. But I really loved the process and outcome of a project I did for Vega back in 2011 while I was on maternity leave. The project was called Nordic Sound. You can see some pictures on my website. I designed the whole scenography for seven different bands and made big sculptures that we hung from the ceiling. On the sculptures I made visuals and adjusted them for each band. It was a very big and challenging assignment, but I enjoyed every moment of it, and it opened my eyes to be working on a bigger scale.
Who or what inspires you?
A glimpse of light, a tune of new music that has a happy drive, random colors on a wall, a swim in the ocean, poems read aloud by someone I love, time alone, to touch something very soft, the smell of good food… smells is a very strong inspiration to me.
What are your future plans?
To have a big Studio to work in freely. To bring my work out on different levels and also out in the world, so that I can explore different people and countries. I have just started a collaboration with my beloved husband, which I am giving all my energy at the moment. We are called K-O-N-T-O. (you can check out the website: k-o-n-t-o.dk. We have just made a lamp that we are trying to give life (see below). And in May we will do another big scenography at Vega in Copenhagen, a collaboration with the band Wildbirds & Peacedrums and Copenhagen Phill (a symphony Orchestra).
Isn’t that all so beautiful? I would love to have that lamp in my future Volkswagen van 🙂
Want to know more about and see more art from Elisabeth Kiss?
Check these pages: