We talk drips, stalactites, and weirdos with LA artist Elyse Graham


Elyse Graham loves to play. Her joyful 2014 Drip collection of vases, trays, and more, for example, incorporates multi-colored layers of fast-drying resin, which she uses to coat her objects’ interiors. Instead of sealing the resin within, however, Graham turns her pieces upside down (check out the video below!), allowing the resin to drip out of or layer on top of each piece, achieving a stalactite effect around the edges that looks like water, frozen in time.

We spoke with the very talented Ms. Graham earlier this week.

AC: What was the original inspiration behind your Drip process?

EG: Geology has influenced a lot of my resin pieces. I love the idea of pushing something that is already naturally awe-inspiring a little bit further, into the imaginary, otherworldly realm. The inspiration for the Drip Series came from exploring stalactite and stalagmite formations in the caves of Tennessee.

AC: How quickly does the fast-setting resin actually set? And how long does each piece take to make?

EG: I actually work with four different and very specific types of resin—all of which set in under 10 minutes. Each type of resin has different characteristics, including opacity and hardness as well as set time. The set times may only differ by a minute or less, but that makes a huge difference in my work. When you’re trying to capture a drip, 30 seconds is an eternity.

AC: Your palette is really striking and joyful. How do you choose your colors? 

EG: Most of my work is based on a process of layering colors, so I am always thinking of colors in terms of a story or conversation. To hone a palette for a collection, I start by collecting images—anything that causes me to pause—from magazines, the web, Instagram, and photos I take myself around Los Angeles. I try not to edit myself here. I create a mood board on the studio wall behind my resin work area. I glance at the images occasionally while I’m in the studio, but I prefer to let the inspiration come indirectly from my memory. I hand-mix all the dyes and pigments I use as I work, so each piece is composed of a completely unique set of colors.

AC: How would you describe your general approach and aesthetic? And what's the connective thread running throughout your work? 

EG: My aesthetic is certainly colorful, playful, and experimental.  Finding new ways to use common materials fascinates me, and I love exploring strange and sometimes weird color combinations.

Color and material are the two most defining elements to my work. I love putting pieces from different collections together—it’s fun to see how the color conversation carries on as my work develops. Resin is the central material in almost all of my pieces, but my processes tend to be so different that that isn’t always apparent. Even within the same collection, I strive to alter and tweak my use of a material so that it appears to be something completely different. For example, the glass-like resin I use in the mouths of the vases seems nothing like the same material that composes the exterior layer of the geodes.

AC: I understand you started off as a fine artist, then added jewelry making, and, more recently, object design to your repertoire. Do you see all your work as fine art? Do you care about labels?

EG: I see myself as an artist—that’s as specific as I’d like to be with regard to labels. I love having the freedom to choose my projects, mediums, and materials as dictated by my interests.

AC: Do you recall the moment you first knew you wanted to be an artist? 

EG: I’m not quite sure an artist starts out with a desire to be an artist; I think that’s something that comes later. Being an artist is a compulsion, and if you have that compulsion, there really is no choice in it.

AC: Tell us a bit about your studio please. 

EG: My studio is light and bright and set in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s filled with bright colors, strange materials, and experimental pieces and prototypes I fondly refer to as “weirdos.”

AC: How would you describe LA's creative scene at the moment? 

EG: The creative scene in Los Angeles is electric! The energy and excitement surrounding art, architecture, and design continues to pulse and grow. As an artist and native Angelino, I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this movement—it’s thrilling!

 Thanks, Elyse!


More to Love