Student Spotlight: Heather Elder

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Elder

We are very proud to shine the Student Spotlight on MFA candidate Heather Elder. Heather is currently working on her thesis, and sadly, will be leaving us in a quarter or two. She has been a shining star in the Illustration Department, but she has also left her mark on Sequential, Printmaking, and other areas as well. Heather even spent a quarter in Savannah to soak up the illustration karma flowing down there, primarily from Allan Drummond and Dick Kreppel, both wonderful artists and teachers. She is our one-woman environmental oversight committee, and is our vote to become the first 100% organic, sustainable, and totally green illustrator on the planet.

So, without further ado, we proudly offer to the world, our very own Heather Elder...

Things with Wings
Things with Wings

1. Where are you from?
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta and have lived ITP (Inside The Perimeter) since 2002. (Thank god.)

Catching Air
Catching Air

2. Where have you been to school?
I received a Bachelor in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Georgia, with a minor in Art History.


3. What attracted you to Illustration?
While working as a copywriter at an ad agency after graduation, I was drawing and painting in my free time. When I was bored at work, I'd sit in the art directors' offices and peruse their illustration annuals and sourcebooks. I knew that my heart was not in writing, and I wanted to pursue making visual art as a career. My work didn't "fit in" with the fine art crowd, however, within the annuals, I saw a place where my work did fit. Plus illustration involved concepting, my favorite part of being a copywriter.


4. Who are your biggest influences?
Initially Yuko Shimizu was my biggest influence, not just due to her work but also because of her life's path. I tacked one of Yuko's images from an Alternative Pick sourcebook on my office wall as a constant reminder of where I wanted to be just because I loved the image. (It was the illustration she did about the tsunami.) This was before I even knew her name, let alone that she worked a corporate job for 10 years before she made the leap to go back to school. (I worked for 5 years before making the leap myself.) These days, my biggest influence is Mother Nature. Now whenever I start a project or I feel stuck, I go for a walk around my tree-filled neighborhood. It seems I always find what I need there.

Stir Crazy
Stir Crazy (featured on the cover of Negative Burn)

5. If you weren't studying illustration at SCAD, what would you likely be doing?
Selling a healthcare advertising copywriter in Chicago or New York, wishing that I had decided to make the jump and study illustration.


6. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spending time with my boyfriend and my family, hiking and camping, walking and riding my bike around the city, drawing in coffee shops, and lately, watching The Office.

Lovers Tarot Card
The Lovers

7. What is something that most people don't know about you?
I was the Georgia Reader of the year in 5th grade. I hate horses. My great, great, grandfather was a one-legged outlaw from Sharon, GA known as Granddaddy Tippytoes.

Shoe Design
Canvas Shoe Design

8. What would your dream job/client be and why?
My ultimate working scenario would start with being an artist-in-residence at a state park. I'm most content and get my best ideas when immersed in nature, so I would love to have a solid 6 months to I record what I experience in that situation. And on top of the personal benefits, there is bonus of my work going to support the park. When my time there was over, I would take my journal sketchlings and turn them into designs for Anthropologie's home products.

Dia de los Muertos Party Set

9. What's your typical process for creating your artwork (technique, media, etc)?
My standard tools include mechanical pencils of all sizes, tracing paper or bristol, and Photoshop. Lately I've been scanning my pencil drawings, cleaning them up a bit, and then finishing off the illustration in Photoshop. I also work more "traditionally," transferring a drawing to board, quickly inking it in with nib pens, and then painting with gouache and watercolor. Throughout the process I'm either listening to (Seattle's listener-supported radio station) or watching videos on If you haven't checked out either, do so immediately!

That's What Friends are for Too
That's What Friends are For

10. Sum up your personal philosophy in 25 words or less.
"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana" -Groucho Marx


Jay said...

Fantastic outlook on life and art. The work clearly shows it. I love too!

Congrats Heather!

Ron said...

Talent this great will always find a way. Never easy to quit a well-paying job to go back to school and follow your passion. Kudos Heather!!!

Anonymous said...

I happened to find her work by accident and think it's fantastic.