Intricate brush strokes and delightful detail are the hallmark of Auckland artist Lizzie Thomas’ talented hand. Her shop, ellaQuaint, is filled with charming illustrations of birds, woodland creatures (Timorous Beasties), marine life (Aquatic Beasties) and all manner of whimsical imagery.
What do you make?
Mostly I paint and illustrate a range of different manu and beasties. In addition to I also create cards and collages from salvaged, recycled and hoarded snippets.
How did you get into your craft?
You were guaranteed peace and quiet when I was a child if I had a roll of cellotape, scissors, a shoebox and some felt tips. Visual and tactile activities always appealed so from a young age I knew I wanted to be an artist.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My degree is a Bachelor of Visual Arts from AUT, majoring in Sculpture. In addition to that I have taught art and design for many years now too.
What inspires you?
Nature, just how amazing it is. Getting out and about in it or watching wild-life documentaries. Also other artists and designers inspire and motivate me too; there are so many incredible people producing some very clever and stunning work.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
All that I paint / create stems from an appreciation for the environment and the treasures that dwell within it. I love how animals are so popular in art and craft at the moment, shifts like that can help rouse people both young and not so young to take the time to notice the wonder around us. Also I think it is so important to be aware of the amazing things not only within our own immediate locality but also the oceans and on the other side of the world. In my view we need to think holistically if we are to conserve the beauty in our back yard.
I do aim to have products that use eco-friendly materials and processes. There is still room for improvement within that, but I will get there. I have just found a new paper supplier for my cards, collages and A5 prints that has an excellent range of consciously produced paper so I will be switching to them over the next couple of months, my old stock was ok and sustainably produced but I could see there was room for improvement.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Lovely product and an equally lovely seller. I love my Manu! Thanks so much.”
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
At heart I am a lo-tech girl. Digital technologies can be handy at times but they can also confound and sabotage. Water-colour I love to pieces; it is an honest media as you cannot hide your mistakes and the transparency of it allows you to create some gorgeous effects.
Five words that describe your mind:
Inspired, squirrelly, compassionate, mischievous, inventive
Describe your workspace:
In a constant state of flux; it is able to breach the space / time continuum as it frequently changes its form and space. When my studio / garage gets too chaotic I shift onto my dining room table.
What are you currently listening to? Anxiety by Ladyhawke
Recommend an album: Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Your favourite childhood book? The Hobbit
A favourite quote:
“Believe that there is a great power silently working all things for good; behave yourself, and nevermind the rest.” – Beatrix Potter
Do you have any pets? Yes, a feisty little cat called ‘Monster’
What was the last handmade item you bought?
A very cool screen-printed t-shirt, ‘Kiwi to the Core’ for a friend’s toddler from Moko.