Elisa Fisher | Portraits of an Artist

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What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Elisa Fisher. I'm the community manager at WELD Dallas as well as a photographer.

How did you start making your art? Why do you keep going?

I remember as early as the age of five, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "an artist". That passion for creating things has stayed with me the past twenty years. I ended up getting my BFA in Studio Art with a Photography emphasis, and never once did I consider changing my major.

After I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be a travel photographer, but wasn't sure how to get jobs. After a year of teaching English in Thailand, a year and a half of working jobs in the service industry, and trying to do photography, I ended up as an intern at WELD. Being in a creative community for the first time in 3 years, I was so inspired everyday and learned so much from the members. I still wanted to be a travel photographer, and felt like WELD was the perfect springboard for me as I developed relationships with people like Kelsi Klembara, Esther Havens, Austin Mann, and more. 

After my internship ended, I had more local work but still wasn't traveling the world to take pictures for big clients as I had hoped. Something was keeping me in Dallas despite my desire to travel. God's plans are always so much better than our own - in February of 2015 I was offered the job as Community Manager of WELD. I had an "at last!" feeling and although I didn't totally believe that I was the best fit for the job, I accepted it without hesitation.

I had an identity crisis when I felt the full reality of accepting a job where I had to plant roots in Dallas with people that would get to know me really well, people that could hurt me. I realized that traveling had become a defense-mechanism in which I didn't have to be totally vulnerable or work too hard at my relationships with people because I would soon be going to a new place with a whole new set of people. The idea of staying in Dallas made me feel stuck and stagnant and was way more scary to me than going to a foreign country.

As I've settled into my role as WELD's Community Manager, I've realized it's not where you are or what you're doing, but who you're with that defines your experiences. Even though I'm planted in one place for a while, I get to invest in some of the best people everyday, and I'm so incredibly thankful that God has brought me here despite my nomadic tendencies. 

The people at WELD keep me restless about the fact that I haven't settled into my niche of photography yet; it's creative accountability, if you will. That and the innate desire God has put in me to create, that feeling deep down that I can't ignore, is what keeps me going. 

How do faith and creativity collide for you?

I used to struggle a lot with the question of, "How do I create Christian art that isn't cheesy?" I had no desire to create that stuff that is trying so hard to be overtly Christian that it becomes kitsch, but felt like I was a bad Christian if my work didn't point to the Lord. Over the years I've come to believe that if you are a Christian and you do whatever work God has set out for you to do, whether it's something creative or not, that is what we are called to do and it doesn't have to be covered in crosses and bible verses. If we use our talents to the best of our abilities and ask the Lord to guide us in that, there's nothing more we can or need to do.

What are you thankful for in this season of your life, your work?

It can take me a really long time to be my true self around people I've just met. I feel like I'm finally no longer hiding parts of my personality from the people in my life, and it's very freeing. Life's too short to care what people think about you!

What inspires you?

People, places, great food, underwater creatures, dinosaurs, and geometry. 

Was there an artist in your creative field you admired when you were young that inspired you to become an artist? Why?

When I was eighteen I saw an exhibit in Berlin by conceptual film photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. He is one of the most insightful and enigmatic photographers I've ever come across. I think it's because his images both have a deeply thought-out and well-explained concept, yet are also extremely interesting aesthetically. 

What are you working on now?

Being a really good listener and encourager. I find that I am the most happy when I'm focused not on myself. I want to be someone that builds others up to succeed. I'm EXTREMELY empathetic, so I genuinely feel other people's pain as my own. I have the ability to understand what anyone is going through because I tend to take their burdens on myself. Thus, I'm also learning that I have to be careful not to get bogged down by other people's problems. I have to balance being available for others as well as taking time to decompress every day so that I can still be a source of support for people.

Photography-wise, I've been shooting whatever comes my way: weddings, architecture, portraits, and events. Very recently, I've discovered that I really love taking environmental portraits. It makes sense as it combines my love for people and place. I would really like to figure out a way to do that kind of thing for jobs. 


Environmental portraits by Elisa Fisher.
Click on the images above to enlarge.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

Listening: Ratatat, Small Black, Lucius, Atlas Genius, Tei Shi, Prinze George, In The Valley Below, Knox Hamilton, Lisa Hannigan, to name a few. 
Watching: Parks & Recreation
Reading: Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Any advice for women who are aspiring creatives in your field?

It doesn't matter how many Instagram followers you have. If you're serious about wanting to be an artist, then create what YOU like creating, and if you truly believe in it and work really hard, people will see that and will hire you. 

 
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Describe your perfect day of recharging/relaxing.

Waking up late, making coffee and breakfast at my apartment, going for a run in a beautiful place with perfect weather, exploring a new area, and enjoying some really delicious food and drinks with awesome people.

What is an interesting fact about you most people wouldn't know?

 I was classically trained in piano since the age of seven, and took lessons for about thirteen years. 

I cannot live without ...

Peanut butter. It's just the best. 


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Where to find Elisa:

Instagram: @elisafisherphotography

elisafisher.com


Illustrations and hand lettering by Sojung Lee.

If you'd like to be featured, please contact me: sjlee@sohostory.com