If you frequent the DC art + craft fair circuit then you're likely familiar with Elizabeth Graeber's illustration work. Her style is instantly recognizable once you've laid eyes on it: fun, loose, and colorful, and she's been able to successfully make her art her full-time job over the last several years. She's published a book (An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails), contributed work to the Wall Street Journal, and completed commissions for fashion line Alice + Olivia; she – more than almost anyone I know – is CONSTANTLY creating. From a series dedicated solely to portraits of redheads to an online shop specializing in food illustrations, her work ethic, frankly, is bonkers, so much so that you get the feeling that she'd be expending the same amount of creative energy whether she was 9-5ing or if her time was completely hers.
"I have my own little studio room in my house, which I really like. It gets really great light and I can keep my mess out on my desk without spreading all over the house. And I get to hang out with my dog Chickpea!"
How did your career start?
I’ve always liked drawing, I went to MICA and studied illustration because I liked picture books and thought that's what I would want to do. I realized it is harder to do as a career than I thought, but it has worked out. I draw for a variety of places and am illustrating [another] book this year!
You're self-employed, and you work from home. Best practices?
I try to keep a schedule, and figure out what projects I have to work on each week. I also like to get out a lot, take walks, visit people, and take mini-field trips, like to the Portrait Gallery. [Business-wise], have a good website and make it easy for people to contact/ hire you. Also keep all your business receipts and tax things in one place!
And before you worked for yourself?
I worked lots of random jobs that were part time because I wanted to have time for illustration. I worked as a dog walker and at a museum. I don’t remember the first piece I sold, but I think my first commissioned piece was for the Philadelphia Weekly when I graduated from school. It was a story about roof decks (I really want a roof deck.)
grew up: outside of Baltimore
neighborhood: H St. NE
what do you like about where you live?
Delicious food around the corner, and being walking/biking distance
to markets, museums and the rest of the city.