Tilly Rivers Entertainment Editor & Food Critic for IRM Magazine
Host; Features Radio Show.
Recently, I had the pleasure to interview Artist / Author Kara Elsberry. Among her artistic inspirations are Boris Vallejo, Clive Barker (yes, the author!), DaVinci, Dali, Luis Royo and Brian Froud. As for everyday inspiration? She says nature and fantasy inspire her the most. The exploration of dreams, the beauty of youth and innocence, mystery, the ‘unknown’, perseverance, stubbornness, magic, eroticism, and sensuality.
Now calling South Dakota home, Kara owns and operates Kara’s’ Designs. What follows is that interview.
How long have you been an artist?
“Professionally for about 8 years. However Art has been a passion for as long as I can remember.”
What mediums do you work from?
“Mostly digital, but some painting and free hand drawing.”
What is the favorite medium and why?
“Digital by far, because it allows me to do so many things at the touch of a few buttons. But, when I just need to get away from all the stress and aggravation that lovely technology can cause, I really love to get out the paints and get my hands dirty!!”
Why did you start muti-artist venues? Most artist stick to painting (drawing), graphic art or photography, you ‘do it all’ so to speak.
“I don’t do it all, but I certainly give it a go. It’s just plain exciting working on so many different projects; meeting so many interesting and fun people…sticking with the same thing over and over is just boring.”
What was your inspiration?
“That’s hard to say, there are so many people and factors in my life that inspire and have inspired me. Life in general, life experience, all the people around me, my family, nature, fantasy, dreams… so many things to choose from I couldn’t possibly pin down one.”
How long does it take you to complete a piece?
“That depends. Say, I’m going to do a book cover for a certain author….and maybe that author is a certain sassy author with a lovely radio show for instance…. Anyhow, a book cover generally takes about a day to get the concepts I want to show to the author, then another day or three to finalize final details and all that good stuff. So, we’ll just go on the generous side and say a week at the very longest. There are other factors of course that affect everything, but very rarely does it go over a week. Logos, about 1-3 days, T-shirts I generally do within a couple of hours, as well as business cards, etc. Paintings on the other hand take me a while; I could actually take up to a month or so. I get very picky and it’s not like there’s an undo function for painting…though I wish there were!! LOL.”
Can you describe the process you go through when creating a piece from start to finish?
“I start out getting all the information I can about the person or company I am designing for. From what the company name means to what the person’s favorite colors and their hobbies are all things that are taken into consideration. Printer’s specs, and the final output of the design are also considered. For instance, will the design be solely used on the web, or will it also be used for print and large signage? That’s all extremely important. Once I have all that information, I start looking for inspiration, be it on the internet, the TV, or print ads, I look for inspiration everywhere. Just the tiniest little thing can get an idea going and then Bam! You have a starting point and off you go! I usually put together a few different design concepts for each client, so they get a variety to choose from. They pick their favorite (sometimes I have to do another round of concepts), and we refine the design with their personal details. Then, we agree on the final design and I send all final files to them to keep for their records and to use as they wish.”
Do you work from live models?
“Ahh, wouldn’t that be nice to have a bunch of models to have at my beck and call when I needed them? 😉 Sadly, that is not the case and I don’t often get to work from live models. In college drawing courses I worked from models quite frequently. I also use them as inspiration for paintings and sometimes in ads for beauty clients.”
What has been the biggest challenge in the work you create?
“The biggest challenge is not in the art itself, but at first attracting clients to your business. I live in a small town in SD and it was hard to get started…to convince people that are out of state or even out of the country that you are the best artist for the job. But I stuck with it and things improved dramatically for me year after year. After that, the only challenge is keeping up with the latest technology and artistic styles to keep everyone happy and up to date with what’s new and improved.”
What do you want to be remembered for?
“Hmmm, that’s a tough one! I guess I just want to be remembered for being a good mother to my children… (But even though that’s absolutely true, it’s also the safe and boring answer, isn’t it?) LOL- But…. oh hell, who am I kidding, I just want to be remembered for being a kick ass artist!!”
How would you describe yourself?
“I guess I’m not your average cup of tea to say the least. I work from my home office, I hardly ever get out to meet many people in real life, I’m usually corresponding over the internet or by phone, but when I do go out I have definitely have my share of fun!! I love books, art, (big surprise!); gardening…you should see all the plants I have, video games, cartoons…pretty much a kid at heart. I love the fairytale side of life, the childlike wonder that we don’t get to see much these days.”
What do you hope people think of when they view your work?
“Oh many many things. I hope my work strikes a cord in some way, makes people remember a moment in life where they were truly happy or deliciously scared if we’re talking about scary books… maybe my artwork makes them crave something they’ve been dreaming of or yearning to return to…or dream of a place where fairytales exist…. whatever I can do to make people feel good, that’s what I want them to feel when they view my work. “
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know about? The artist:–the woman?
“Hmmm, well….I’m pretty down to earth most of the time, I guess (unless you count the times I have my head in the clouds dreaming up my latest design)… love my family, love the simple things in life. I love dogs, (I have two beagles, Snoopy and Lilly, and a chow named Gizmo. You can catch my attention the best with a fun, sassy, creative imagination…. I am always up for a new and exciting artistic challenge…if you can dream it, I can design it. I’m a pretty stubborn person (must be the red hair, do you think?) and when I really want something, I usually end up getting what I want in the end… So, why fight it? Smiles! Oh, and I love to write, it’s my secret passion, not many people know about that.”
Where can readers find you? View your work?
http://kara.mosaicglobe.com, (that’s my online portfolio, though I don’t have nearly all my work posted on there yet). www.blackvelvetseductions.com, www.funnytshirts.biz , or just do a search for my name, Kara Elsberry on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, your favorite bookstore, or just sign on to Google and look me up!”
Conclusion: What captures you about Kara is her ability to turn an idea from words into a creative work of art. From her nude drawings to her book cover art, she has a rare talent and passion that comes through in everything she touches. Her humor- her daring nature is balanced with a soft sensitive spirit that I have the pleasure and privilege to be a part of as Kara has designed many of my book covers. PS- Who really just wants an average cup-of-tea anyway?
About the author: Tilly Rivers is a best selling celebrity author, radio host for “Features,” & Entertainment Editor / Food Critic for IRM Magazine.