At Hester & Cook, we are privileged to work alongside such talented artists. We are so excited to have the opportunity to share our Q+A with one of our favorite artists, Elizabeth Foster. Elizabeth is known for her whimsical illustrations of animals. You may recognize her from several of our collections, including our most loved Circus Collection. Get to know Elizabeth's process and what inspires her work.
Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
A: I grew up in a family full of artists and creative thinkers! Some of my fondest memories are of exploring my grandfather’s painting studios, watching him work, and listening to him teach. I have always been encouraged to grow in the arts and I have always had an insatiable need to make things! When I moved to Nashville twenty years ago, I saw such a welcoming and active painting community and I just had to become a part of it!
Q: How long have you been painting as an artist?
A: I have been painting professionally for about 15 years.
Q: When did you first begin collaborating with brands to have your artwork featured on products?
A: The first time I ever licensed my images for products was maybe ten years ago! I had the opportunity to work with Griffin, a tech company here in Nashville, designing iphone covers. It was so fun to actually see my images on something functional and commercial.
Q: What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?
A: Just about every project I’ve ever painted for Hester and Cook, of course! It’s an absolute joy for me to create with the folks at H&C, I love the creativity and stories we get to create through products! I would also say I’ve enjoyed painting for the sets of television shows. I have had a number of paintings I have painted for specific characters and I have loved being part of creating their atmosphere and environment for sets.
Q: Do you have a favorite item you created with Hester & Cook?
A: I have a few favorite items with H&C! I love the 3-D table ornaments and fold out tent we created for the Circus line of products! It made me feel almost like I was designing toys! To bring a table to life in both the 2-D and 3-D is a really exciting challenge and I’m looking forward to creating more! I’m also pretty much in love with the Die-Cut Bunny Bouquet Placemat for spring!
Q: Where do you find new inspiration for art you are creating?
A: My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere! Music, books, conversations with friends, and topics I am trying to work out in my own life through illustrating them on canvas!
Q: What is your creative process like? What mediums do you work with?
A: In my painting, I always start with a specific idea of what I want to convey, a story to tell myself and to others. I love storytelling, if you can’t tell! I have never quite gotten over children’s book illustrations and I love to bring that essence of imagination and whimsy to my work. I use acrylic paint on gessobord panels and canvas. I usually map out my ideas in a rough sketch in my sketchbook and translate it onto a panel in charcoal. I always paint my surface red oxide first as an underpainting to give life and connectivity to everything that gets painted on top. I layer and layer colors in washes of acrylic and finish everything with an acrylic varnish to pop the colors out.
Q: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
A: When I’m working with H&C, my favorite part has been the designing of products, brainstorming and getting excited about what could be! I love the team at H&C’s sensibilities and style, so it’s a very enjoyable collaboration for me! In my painting, my favorite part is when I get lost in the bliss of the actual process of painting. There is something that happens in the middle of a painting when things are just starting to build in the right way and you can sense the potential of the piece, that’s my favorite part! I tend to always have the thought, “there is nothing I’d rather be doing than painting here, right now.”
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working on illustrating a book for my friends, Hannah and Michael Dixon called, The Blessing Book. It’s my first time illustrating a book and it has been so much fun and a big challenge! I’m learning so much! I love painting big, but the small ones are so fun, too!
Q: What advice can you give to people who want to be more creative?
A: I always tell people who have an interest to just do it! Just jump in with both feet! It’s important to give yourself the space to fail and learn and thrive, and all three of these are essential to growth. Don’t be afraid to make something you don’t like, we all do! We just work hard and with patience, until we like it!
Q: Name something that excites you and why.
A: I must say, one of my life’s simplest pleasures is my vegetable garden and my divine peach tree! I absolutely love to watch things grow. There is so much satisfaction in the rhythm of planting, growth, harvest, and bringing it all to my dinner table. I get excited about the tiny, pink blossoms on the peach tree that appear first like a spring kiss after a long winter, then the elongated, lush green leaves that burst out and shade the corner of our yard in a dense umbrella. The hundreds of peaches that grow on this particular tree are the most delicious fruit- it makes me think of my family at the beach in South Carolina, eating peaches until you just can’t anymore!
Q: If you could dine with one person, past or present, who would it be and why?
A: This is a tough one, it’s hard to choose just one person! But, I guess I would choose Jesus. I would love to sit across the table and ask him all the questions! But, also to simply be at the table with him would be having dinner with pure love, so yeah, it’s Jesus for me. But if he was busy that night, I would ring up Elvis…obviously.
Explore our selection of Elizabeth’s art on Hester & Cook products by shopping the collection.