Artist Feature: Liz Rowland

by Nisha Btesh September 08, 2018

Artist Feature: Liz Rowland

Who is Liz? Where are you from? How did you become the woman you are today?

Hello! I'm an Illustrator, currently based in London, though I've moved around a fair bit in the last couple of years. I changed direction during my mid-twenties to build my career as an Illustrator, something I had trained in but moved away from for a few years after university. After working in a full-time job for a while, I spent some time traveling and figuring out what was important to me in life before finding my way back to painting. 

What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about said message?

It's not something I consider too much, I paint what interests me and in turn, you are commissioned based on that work. I've always been drawn to people and culture, understanding different ways of living, so I think I want people to take that from my work. To see the world in a positive light.

An image for Vogue.com to accompany an article about dressing for work.

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with said medium or did it choose you?

I will always choose to hand paint if possible, that's my favorite way to work. It's therapeutic and free, when I'm lost in a painting I'll forget it also works. I use gouache and bits of watercolor. I'll often need to working digitally for commercial projects, which can be a nice change, but I'm always so happy to pick up my paintbrush again. 

Your work is often inspired by your travels, why do you think that is? Where are you of to next?

Travel is my biggest motivator. When you’re somewhere new you’re alert to everything and often out of your comfort zone. I love that feeling. Painting what I see is my way of digesting it and making sense of the world. I am drawn to color and pattern, food and language; the things that make us human, give us identity, diversity, and life us up. The freedom to travel is also one of the main reasons I wanted to be freelance, so they go hand in hand. I've been living back in London for the summer after some time overseas, but I am getting itchy feet for a new trip now the days are getting cooler. I'm dying to see Japan! And head back to Mexico. I'd love to do a cycle trip too. 

What are 1-3 tips or tricks that have helped you to turn your passion into a paycheck?

Persistence, number one. Embracing the unknown and adapting in whatever ways I can to changing circumstances. Putting my work out there and in front of the right people. Generally putting in the hours and sticking with it, working through any setbacks and feelings of doubt.

What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?

It's a really exciting time for female creatives. Over the last couple of years, I've found such an amazing network of women supporting women, both online and in real life. I've contacted several female creatives I admire for advice and they have all been open and generous with their time, so don't be scared to reach out to people. There are sites like Women Who Draw and The Ladies Network dedicated to supporting female creatives too which is so great to see.

 What do you know for sure?

I'm still working on that...

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a female artist to date? What are some of the biggest mistakes you've made and how did you overcome them?

I struggle to discuss money. It's been a huge challenge for me so quoting can be a bit painful. I have often taken on jobs and agreed on a brief, which then gets altered halfway through the project. A certain amount of flexibility is necessary to maintain relationships with clients, but there are also times where you need to stand your ground. This is something that gets much easier with experience. I've also had to learn to be comfortable with the ebbs and flows of freelancing but again, it becomes more familiar with time. I'm not sure I would say these challenges come from being a female artist though...a British one maybe! 

How do you stay motivated? What does your daily routine look like?

I’m most focused in the morning so I try to start early. I like to start my work day with some sort of exercise, otherwise, I can be restless at my desk. Then I'll paint first and deal with emails and admin later when my productivity slows. I listen to endless podcasts through the day to keep me focused. I try to keep weekends free of work so that I can be outside. That time exploring keeps me motivated. I travel whenever I can, which helps keep life in perspective. 

Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. Could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.

Hugo Mills - one of my favorite people, my housemate, and my unofficial art director, currently sat next to me with a Bloody Mary in hand, listening to Abba and pointing out cute dogs. 

I recently read Any Human Heart by William Boyd and it's been on my mind since. It follows the story of one man's life in its entirety, through the ups and downs, and it highlighted how much changes. Nothing ever stays the same, we live through small chapters. That sounds a little depressing, but I found it had the opposite effect. When you can start to accept how much is out of your control the easier life becomes day to day. 

This summer in Europe has been one of my favorite ever summers, it's given me plenty of inspiration!  

What are your future plans for your work? Where do you see yourself going 1,3,5 years from now and how do you plan to get there?

Oh god! Major. I can’t think that far into the future! I don’t think you can make too many solid plans in life. But my general direction is to continue being self-employed and have a set up that gives me the freedom to travel. I would also like a stronger base here in the U.K., ideally by the sea, where I can join a studio. I miss working amongst other creatives. All I can do is work as hard as possible and put mine all into each opportunity that comes my way. Hopefully, the rest will fall into place. 

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

When I started my first job my boss told me not to worry too much about anything. Take yourself and your work seriously, but stay level headed. If you have a disastrous day it's not the end of the world, forget about it and try again tomorrow. As long as nobody is hurt, it’s probably fine, problems can and will be solved.

Your aesthetic is so childlike and playful, why are you drawn to this look? Do you find that it's intentional or does it just come out that way?

Haha, thanks! It wasn’t always - I’m sure my high school art teacher would disagree with you entirely! Luckily I mellowed after my teenage years. Now I just want to create work that is happy and light and celebrates the world we live in. It's not intentional if I start to overthink an image it all goes wrong and the process is nowhere near as enjoyable.

To learn more about Liz and her work please visit www.lizrowlandillustration.myportfolio.com




Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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