Meet self-taught jeweler, ceramicist & photographer Elise Estelle— based in Lisbon, Portugal; Elise talks about the balancing act of her artistic endeavors & motherhood while we explore alongside her & her son Zion.
Elise wearing our Creamsicle Waffle Top & Bottom and Zion wearing our Creamsicle Waffle Tank Set.
You're an artist of many trades (jewelry, sculpture, photography) — how did you discover you had a passion for so many different mediums? My first love was music, I started playing piano at the age of 3 and from a young age I was composing and singing my own songs. Music was my way of processing the world around me. From that time, I’ve been able to get my hands on different kinds of mediums and I find that with each medium a different type of energy transcends. The purpose of anything I create is rooted in this place, either it’s how I understand the world, how I understand myself or maybe a combination of both. I also find that different mediums have served me for different phases of my life. I have been experiencing a lot of grief and heavy weighted emotions lately, so there are a lot of words flowing, and I feel some music coming to life. I am also finding clay to be incredibly therapeutic and fitting nicely to my current setting in Portugal. I almost always have a camera in hand, I think that has become my “travelers” art medium. It is the one thing I have always brought with me no matter where I am. I feel very lucky, to have this experience with creating, I’m not sure I’d be here today without it.
Elise wearing our Peanut Butter Utility Suit and Zion wearing our Toast Utility Suit.
Are you self-taught in these artistic mediums or did someone in your life influence your journey? I am mostly self-taught in the mediums I’m working in. My goal this year is to start taking more courses from artists who I admire, especially in ceramics, sculpture, painting and music recording. I have had a beautiful mentor who has guided me in my jewelry process, and he’s taught me a good deal about analog photography as well. I have also had the privilege of being influenced by some brilliant jazz musicians from the time I would spend lingering in piano bars and wandering through yards where I heard music echoing as a teen. I had a few 10 minute improv sessions with professional jazz artists that changed the way I play the piano forever. In art, music and even my writing, I prefer this learning method compared to enrolling in a formal school setting where I might not have as much freedom deciding from whom I am learning and the type of work I create. I am not hating formal education, I did ironically study psychology and neuroscience in University. But for the arts I have preferred this more intuitive learning style.
How do you find a balance between motherhood & chasing your personal ambitions? The ebbs and the flows. There are days where I feel I have finally achieved perfect harmony between the two, other days I feel the two have morphed together and it feels blissful and magical, and then days I feel I have lost all sense of control and this feeling of not being able to do anything properly washes over. Ultimately, I have realized it is the art of achieving this balance that keeps me focused, committed and clear minded. I love being challenged, and motherhood is something I have always deeply desired. The messiness and chaos adds character to the work I do, it provides depth, as long as I let it out of my control! On a practical note, I find that leaning more into a healthy balance of my masculine and feminine has been a good practice. I try to implement systems that support my work and carving out time and pleasure for myself, while also practicing a fluid flow, pushing myself to create in the late evening because it’s the only moment I had for the day, and I know it will fill my cup- for example.
What do you love about living and creating in Lisbon? I feel so happy to be in the Lisbon area. I currently have my ideal living situation with an apartment in the city and an off-grid home in nature, just 5 minutes from the beach. The balance between the city and nature life really inspires my creative process. I love to spend time in the city meeting new folks, visiting the botanic gardens, museums, and eating some local Portuguese food. My home in nature is where all my creativity flows. It is peaceful and quiet where I live without any neighbors for miles. I wake up to the sound of birds and hear water trickling in the stream next to my home. It is the perfect space to process, decompress, rest and create! I visit the ocean every day and I find Portuguese culture to be very easy going and welcoming.
What're you reading or listening to these days that has inspired you? I am starting to grow my own mushrooms so I am currently reading a lot of books and watching tutorials on this subject along with Food Of The Gods by Terence McKenna. Duke Ellington is my soul music these days- and then Hania Rani, Nils Frahm, David Walters and in nostalgic moments I’ve been turning to CocoRosie.
FOLLOW ELISE HERE: INSTAGRAM