June 4, 2019 Artist to Watch: Michelle Elder


Michelle Elder

Local Illustrator with a mission to show students that it is possible to be an artist and be successful

Originally from Columbia, SC, Michelle holds a BA in studio art and anthropology from the University of SC. She has been a professional illustrator for many years, with clients that include the Office of the State Archaeologist of SC, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, LSU Alumni Association, and the LSU Vet School. Her work has appeared in national publications for the Society of Illustrators. She is available for commissions both for commercial work and portraiture, as well as art lessons. 

Were you an artsy kid, and what got you started in painting?

I was, I guess, an artsy kid- always drawing, making something, being creative. I was fortunate enough to have the arts in my school all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade.  It was a guidance counselor in my senior year that encouraged me to study art or design. 

How did you learn your craft?

I can’t really remember when I started drawing, because I’d always sketched and scribbled and made things. I really started in earnest in high school when I realized I had something there and I needed to refine it. I went to University of South Carolina and received a BA in Art Studio. I planned to go to graduate school to study art conservation but I applied for an illustration job my last semester in college and took that path. 

What other artist or people are you inspired by?

My mother was my biggest inspiration, she was always coming up with her own sewing patterns or crafts, so I grew up in a creative household, where we were all hands-on, my uncle and cousin could also draw, and I just inherited it, I guess. My youngest son seems to be taking after me in the drawing department, and it’s interesting to watch his development. 

Why did you choose drawing over other crafts?

I enjoy drawing because of the detail and precision I can get out of it. I can paint as well, but I’ve always loved the crisp lines of graphite. 

What are you excited for this summer?

I am excited to be able to offer a second drawing class at the arts council and to be involved in summer camps and activities at the Council. For more information on Michelle’s class and other summer classes visit: https://www.artsbr.org/arts-classes

What can people expect from your class at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge this summer?

In the second drawing class, we will concentrate on pen and ink techniques and how to apply them for texture and color. My first class explored graphite shading, so its an extension of that along with some new varieties of shading applications. No experience necessary! Just fun. 

What would you tell someone that is wanting to get into drawing?

If someone wants to start drawing and really pursue it the most important advice I could give is to practice every day. It’s something I need to do more of myself! And develop your own style, it will come out on its own and you can refine it and make it yours. 

Where can people see your work online and in person?

I have a Facebook art page Michelle Elder Illustrator and an Etsy store link. Also, originals and prints of my work are available, as well as tees. Louies Cafe sells my art tees featuring a drawing of their iconic neon sign!

Any other comments or thoughts for those reading this blog?

I was fortunate that I always had the arts accessible to me at school and that I had encouragement. That’s why I love doing what I do at the Arts Council, and showing students that yes, it is possible to be an artist and be successful.