INTRODUCING: ELIZABETH ILSLEY
Elizabeth Ilsley is a girl not to be messed with.
Bold, colourful and unashamedly feminist, Elizabeth's work has been causing a stir in the fashion and art world since she burst onto the scene with her infamous hand painted leather jackets.
We caught up with the Birmingham based artist on empowering women, taking risks and what it feels like to count Rihanna as a fan...
What is it that makes you want to get up and design each day?
The thought of bettering myself every week, making progress and the fear of letting myself down (...and a maccies bagel breakfast if I’m lucky enough to have the time!)
What is the starting point for each of your designs? How do you pick where to begin?
Each piece starts with a thought or a conversation. Every piece of my work is a statement so it has to start with what I want to say and I work from there. It’s always best when it doesn’t come from me directly but is something that any of my friends might say that makes me laugh.
How much does your art reflect events that have happened in your own life?
Not so much anymore but I used to make every print about someone or something that has made me feel extremely passionate, whether it be positive or negative. I think it’s important for the artist to reflect what’s going on in their life, in their work. The world has never been so interested in ‘the artist’ before so therefore for me I want to express if I’m angry of overjoyed.
"I have a hardness about me that definitely comes from being brummie"
How has growing up and living the midlands had an impact on your designs?
Well everyone knows I’m a proud Brummie! I never walk through Digbeth and feel inspired, I don’t go up town and sketch next to the pigeons but I guess the idea of being born into a industrial area outside Birmingham and finding a creative oasis of parties and style in Birmingham at 18 led me to really be myself, meet and work around the most interesting people. I have a hardness about me, that definitely comes from being brummie.
Have your designs evolved as you’ve got older?
They will do! What I have planned for next year will definitely take it up a notch and put a couple years on the flower motifs.
How has risk taking been a big part of what you do?
I tend to take risks often, sometimes I paint jackets completely free hand and that can be risky haha.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been creatively restricted?
I suppose the only time I’ve ever felt restricted has either been when I was at University where my tutors didn’t like what I was making. And maybe even to a certain extent myself! I’m no stranger to a creative mind blank or a dip in confidence so sometimes I feel restricted by myself. But that’s why it’s important to keep creative people around you and stay inspired!
"I tend to take risks often, sometimes I paint jackets completely free hand and that can be risky haha"
You've collaborated with a range of brands since your 'I SHAVE MY LEGS FOR YOU' jacket. Which project has related to you the most and why?
The project that springs to mind is definitely working with House of Holland as I’ve admired the brand since 2007 and feel so lucky to even share my ideas! It was really exciting to work on that project and really express my style and art to the team.
Through your designs you've established such a strong voice for women. How important do you think it is to design for women, from a women’s perspective?
Well undoubtedly it’s so important for women to be designing for women. Who better to spread a voice of respect and power to women than women. I love help women feel powerful and strong in my designs.
You’ve built up quite a celeb following over the past couple of years. How does it feel to count the likes of Rihanna as a fan?
She was the first big name to follow me on Instagram, and I love it! I’m in total awe of her, as we all are. She’s such a boss with fashion and she doesn’t ever look like a fool and that I’m forever envious of. So for her to want to follow my work is reassuring that I’m in the right lane.
In 3 words, how do you want people to feel when they wear your products?
Sexy, intimidating and individual.
What do you think it means to be part of #HOHLIFE?
I think of being a colourful, creative individual and standing out from the insta-crowd.
Elizabeth designed a number of the graphics featured in the House of Holland SS18 collection showcased at London Fashion Week.