Maker Stories

This Just In-Spiration: Meet Eliza Todd

February 22, 2016

Eliza Todd | UncommonGoods
Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Eliza Todd, the artist behind our new Life by Definition Beer Glasses.

Life by Definition Beer Glasses - Set of 4 | UncommonGoodsWhen did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I have wanted to be an artist ever since I was young. My mom and both of my sisters are also very creative people, and so our kitchen table was always home to some sort of painting, sculpting or sewing project.

What is the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
After college, I worked in the design field for several years but then received a really wonderful opportunity in the software industry. During those years, I traveled quite a bit and didn’t have much time for making art. Several years ago, I decided to return to my first love and started painting again. The first print I sold after returning was such a thrill! To be able to pass on something you have invested your heart in is a feeling I can’t explain. I knew then that creative endeavors and art would always be a part of my life going forward.

During my time in technology, I would often find myself looking through our family’s antique dictionary. Some of the words I came across were beautiful in sound and meaning and others were simply hilarious. Over the years, I kept a journal of my favorites and have since added to the list. When I started painting again, I decided to add some of my favorites to the paintings I was creating and was so happy when they were well received.

One day, while looking over the pages of words I started to organize them and found there were several rather interesting and funny words related to drinking. Thinking others might also find these words interesting, I thought it would be fun to put these words on product, in this instance, beer glasses, and the Life by Definition product line was born.

Life By Definition Glasses | UncommonGoods
What does your typical day in the studio look like?
Sometimes it feels like a typical day is actually quite atypical!  As a general rule though, I am a morning person, so I always wake up very early, usually well before the rest of my family, and I will try to get a bit of studio time in before getting my boys off to school.  My dog Champ (a beagle mix) usually gets up with me and will hang out most of the day on a window seat in my studio.

The morning always begins with a cup of coffee or tea (vital).  I am a big list maker, and try to make a list of priorities the night before so when I get started I already know what direction I am headed for the day.  In creative work, it is easy to get lost following some inspiration that may come, so I find that a list helps balance out those moments when I want to go “off-road” creatively to see where an idea may lead.

Mid-mornings and if need be, early afternoons are held for meetings and the administrative part of the business.  I will then typically take a break to be with my boys when they come home from school and into the evening.  I finish out the day with more creative work or drawing practice and making that list that will guide me the next day.

No matter what my day holds, I draw every day.  Art is as much (or more) skill and practice as it is talent.  I made a commitment to myself when I started my creative business that drawing (or sometimes painting) will be the top priority every day, and so far I haven’t missed a day. 🙂

Eliza Todd | UncommonGoods
Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
I try to surround myself with lots of positive words. Having them near is such a great reminder that life and our outlook on it is a choice. This Christmas my teenage boys spray painted some words for me on note cards and then surprised me by arranging them in a huge collage in my studio. The words are wonderful and their support is priceless.

Eliza Todd | UncommonGoods
I also have a small translucent orange colored glass tea light candle holder in the shape of a bunny. This is always kept close to me on my workspace. It is just a simple little bunny candle holder, but I received it from my dear friend Marta. She owned a gift shop in my hometown and she was the first person who retailed my artwork and has been a constant source of encouragement to me on my journey. This past August she closed the doors to her store, and on the last day as we sat in the almost vacant space, we noticed the little bunny in the corner, and she said, “Take it as a remembrance of this special time and our friendship.” In a way, that little tea light reminds me that the path to our dreams is not a solo endeavor, and I am very grateful for the people that have so generously supported me on my way.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
I think if a kindergartner saw my art they might be bewildered by the odd words, but might have fun trying to say them! If they saw some of my other pieces they might like the colors and illustrations. Much of my art is very colorful, whimsical and inspirational, so I think they would connect quite a bit with the messages and bright colors.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
Wow there are so many! There is a quote I wrote for the tagline on my website; it says, “It’s not just what happens to the art once it is completed, but what it does to your soul during its creation.” For me, as I know it is for so many, creating anything, no matter what your medium, is a life-giving, transformative thing.

Get This Good | Eliza Todd

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