Elise Mesner, Cross-Media Artist & Director
“Surround yourself with it. Be it. Put yourself there, before you’re even there, manifest.” Elise Mesner proves that when you make that unabashed choice to pursue your passions, life falls right into place. Based in Silver Lake, CA, Elise wears many creative hats as a Mixed-Media Artist, Film Director and Creative Director. Let’s get to know her better...
Tell us about your career journey and how you got to where you are today, creating pieces for companies like National Geographic.
“I rarely come out of the bag with answers to career journey questions, ya dig homecat? It’s difficult to come up with a brief answer as to how I got to where I am today – there’s so many details in the mix. I suppose I just kept making the things I loved and kept on the journey. Keep doing what you love, and surround yourself with the people you love, the things you love. Weed the garden and just be like an art/love sandwich and you’re the guts between the bread. Surround yourself with it. Be it. Put yourself there, before you’re even there, manifest.
Art has always been one of those things I truly love. My father is a painter/mural artist, so it’s heavily in my genetic path. I grew up expressing myself with art, and surrounded by it, completely. It makes me happy and connected. In my early Detroit days, I always played with art and photography as a hobby, but worked 9-5 jobs in accounting and real estate. In my mid-twenties, I decided to permanently leave that 9-5 life and started my own business called, Art Pardee, teaching painting classes. I like to shake life up a bit, and frankly, after mentally grappling with the reality of time, how fast it moves, and how much desk life I had already experienced in measures, I realized that there are other things in this life to go and experience – and so many choices we have! Life is too PRECIOUS to be sitting at this DESKIOUS, I thought. There’s a sense of true empowerment within the simple recognition of choice and then moving in directions that reinforce not only our joy and presence but also this feeling of knowing that we have choice. It’s WOW!
It wasn’t that I disliked the 9-5 so much but more that I wanted to explore. It wasn’t a feeling of running away from a life, but rather running towards a new goal. It wasn’t a decision that bumped around like a pinball. It was a quick decision that I didn’t ruminate about in my melon. It felt just right leaving behind that career and starting a new one. The vibe was unstoppable - ding, dang, done. It’s a safe feeling, an overwhelming intrinsic feeling with a reflex of its own that you trust. And for the sake of expanding my consciousness, I needed a breakaway from the long Detroit winters.
When I decided to pursue an art career wholeheartedly with full sun, I moved out to Los Angeles, which was about 2 ½ years ago. Currently, I’m a Creative Director, Film Director, and Cross-Media Artist. I’m all over the map with creative projects, so it varies from month-to-month, depending on what art form triggers. This past month’s roster included a wrap up of a big campaign with Miu Miu’s "Fleur D’Argent Perfume" where I executed a creative interpretation of the fragrance that represents the idea of contradictions and juxtapositions (metallic and organic, hard and soft, strong while delivering opulence vs. minimalism). I used photography and video elements. And hmm, I just got home today from an amazing photoshoot with Fish and Pink, a dashing Swedish couple who make sleek furniture that you want to stack up in your home like Tetris. Everything was photographed out in Joshua Tree’s vanilla blue and pink sky. The winds really picked up in the desert today, so I’m picking out all the sand speckles from the camera crevices!
The National Geographic project was a really fun photography commission. Back in April, NatGeo premiered the second installment of their television series, "Genius: Picasso", highlighting the life and work of Pablo Picasso. They also wanted to bring into light some of the women that were inspirational during Picasso’s career. So, for this, I created an original photography series inspired by the life and work of Dora Maar. If you haven’t heard of Dora, please get to know her – she’s a babe surrealist, French photographer, poet, and painter. I gathered a sweet group of gals for the photo series and it was a true harmony.
So now, as a finale, the thing about this journey... I think it’s all about showing up and connecting with who you really are. You have to get out there and show up. And once you’re present, anything can happen. So hey, let's make this everything we want it to be, (and nothing we don't) shall we? O.K. YESSSS.
Your work has a distinct aesthetic – bold colors and recurring motifs like fruit, plants, and the human form...
I work with many different creative mediums like fashion design, photography, and painting - it’s the perfect reason to become a collector of everything from sand to textiles and paints, and even knitting supplies! When I’m creating, I like that if something doesn’t feel strong, I can pull in another medium to enhance the piece and to bring in some balance. I love finding inspiration for my work by using what's available around me or by what’s left over in the fridge. Ideas will just pop out of the simplest of days and then the stars align – and when you play in the sky, the stars can get tangled in your hair!
One of the first watercolor paintings I made in grade school was of a bunch of fruit – fruit of all sizes, spread out with colors dripping off of the paper into watermelons, grapes and pineapple. Fruit has always excited me – I suppose it was a good excuse to use every color of paint available. To me, there’s a positive association with fruit. Fruit makes people glow. It adds natural color and flavor to everything. Fruit has a magnetic energy. I probably like fruit too much! Also, adding the human form wherever possible is a must for me - I generally prefer to include a “someone” in a piece of work. I think of the visual piece as a story and I really like having a character element – a slice of humanity among the table of fruits. I could take a photo of a sea mine but I’d rather take a photo of someone eating ice cream at the top of a sea mine.
Currently I’m dabbling back into music, or shall I say sound? Stay tuned! I’ll be rolling out with an ASMR channel this coming month. I’ve always wanted to incorporate sounds within my visual projects, which is something that also stems from childhood full of coloring books and fairy tales – hyper-real, incredibly sublime ASMR pieces.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy the innovation, the organization, and the control to reinvent. Being an entrepreneur feels natural, like hanging out with some really interesting artists in a nice cozy little café in Oregon with amazing coffee and music — rather than being lost, wandering aimlessly around the world’s largest Meijer (a supermarket), being told not to take photos of Faygo (Detroit soda) in the store.
How do you define success?
Success is the liberty to live life as the adventure it truly is and when your “heartgut” understands that all you have to do is to choose to do so. It’s also trusting your instincts. I believe we can’t underestimate the power of our own instincts. Learning to actually listen to our instincts is a great form of self-preservation
Any daily routines you can’t live without?
List making or gathering of words, phrases, ideas. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I’m not jotting something down on paper. The unload on paper from today: moonboots, real times, lucky roots, silver slender, layer me, moon medicine, blissed out smiles… etc. And then I also lean against the wall to stretch, easy euphoria.
Who do you look up to?
Grandma Mesner, because she knows what’s important and she comes from the time when people fixed things when they were broke, instead of throwing them away. I look up to her fruitfulness and her faith.
What's your sign!?
Decan 1, triple aquarius! Aquarian triplicity, ahhhh!
Rain Makes Applesauce, by Julian Scheer, 1964. “Lyrical phrases that stretch the imagination” combined with “sly subtleties.” This book simply stuck with me as being one of my first favorites as a little squirt. The title “Rain Makes Applesauce” for me hones in on the big picture and is less caught up in the cluttered details of life. Sayings like “seeing the forest for the trees,” are words I live by. Without the rain, we have no trees and it’s important to see the big picture.
Your TOP 3 HANDBAG ESSENTIALS, go!
1: Phone. #2: Wallet. #3: Keys. It drives me crazy lugging around too many things. I’d carry around the sun for you, though.
When do you feel the most YOU?
Swimming, floating around in the sun. Dancing. And I won’t pretend, napping is very me. The good old 24-hour or 3-day lounge. Bed and breakfast. Repeat!"
Connect with Elise: @LELLOPEPPER
Photos by @CAMBRIA_FODEN
October 29, 2018