MEGAMAN® Meets Elisa Artesero

MEGAMAN® recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours in the company of Manchester-based Light and Text Artist Elisa Artesero. She’s spent the last three years building a name for herself in the industry with some wonderful pieces of art.

MM: When and how did you first discover your passion for light/lighting?

EA: I wanted to be a Jewellery Designer and I was studying on a foundation course with that in mind, but of all the different techniques they showed us on the course I found I was drawn to things involving light. Whether it was photography, video, or even animation, I found I was doing lighting and it just sort of clicked that Light was my medium. Then I discovered that Light Art is a specialist art form, so that decided what I would do!

MM: What do you enjoy most about your job?

EA: I like being able to dream things up, looking at different sites or just being in my studio playing around with different lights and materials. Anything you can dream you can essentially make, if you have the right opportunity. So that’s what I’ve done with most of my work, I’ve pushed to make reality what I imagine in my head and that’s what I enjoy most.

MM: What’s your biggest challenge as a Light Artist?

EA: Convincing people to commission you to do the work and to invest in you. Also networking and getting to know people as well, I’ve only been doing it full-time for three years so I’m still quite new.

MM: Out of all your commissions which do you consider your best/favourite?

EA: It’s really difficult; they’re all my favourites!

I’m really fond of DREAMERS at Lumiere Durham. It’ the biggest piece that I’ve done, but it’s not the scale that makes it my favourite. When I was studying, I visited the festival and that really cemented my desire to be a Light Artist. It was the place I decided “this is what I want to do, this is where I want to exhibit” but I always thought that would come in five or six years. It was very quick for them to pick me up. When I was discussing the pitch with Artichoke (Producers of Lumiere) I had Crown Court Gardens in Durham in my head as my ideal space, and like it was meant to be, it was the only space available.

To do that and achieve it, to watch people enjoying the work, see kids and adults having fun, jumping around and creating shadows it definitely holds a special place in my heart.

Visitors enjoy playing with the Dreamers installation at Lumiere, DurhamPicture: DREAMERS at Lumiere Durham

MM: And if which is your least favourite/hardest?

EA: I can honestly say I don’t have a least favourite. I have tests that don’t work out so they never make it to production. Everything has its merit, I hope!

MM: Where do you find inspiration for your art?

EA: I read a lot about symbolism and dreams. I have a dream theme running through a lot of my work and I’m really interested in the unconscious mind, so the symbols and phrases that we’re unaware of day to day but that come out through our dreams.

I’m also interested in Zen poetry, things to do with transience. Life is transient, things aren’t always as they seem. We’re just kind of passing through.

Light is transient too, I guess that’s why it attracts me as a medium, I like that it ties everything together for me. There’s only this moment and the rest is just memories, or the future is just conjecture as it’s not happened yet. The only things that are happening are happening right now!

MM: What would be your dream commission or project?

EA: I was lucky that I achieved my goal of exhibiting at Lumiere and not only that but in the space I’d dreamed of, but I think now I’d like to show somewhere in Japan, because of my interest in Zen. I love the Japanese culture; my favourite author is Haruki Murakami, his work is very psychological including lots of symbolism too.

MM: Do you think your work would translate well into a different culture?

EA: I think if the language wasn’t a problem then thematically it would translate well into many cultures. I don’t use many words in my work to get the point across, so I think if someone understands the words or message through the use of light then it can work.

MM: What does the future of light/Light Art hold?

EA: There’s two strands to my answer:

I still think there’s a place for the big festivals, something people can play around with, where they can see big light spectacles and experience light in that way, which is something they’ll hopefully remember for a long time.

But I’d also like to see more integration into buildings for everyday wellbeing (in particular natural light). Light affects our wellbeing, so a place for quiet contemplation in a place of work. Somewhere people can escape just for a few moments, maybe something interactive where the light affects you in a good way.

Children play with the A Solid Wish Scatters installationPicture: A Solid Wish Scatters

MM: Do you use LEDs in your work?

EA: Mostly I use LED, I don’t really use halogen, but it really depends what I’m doing.

MM: What are the benefits of working with LED compared to halogen or other light sources?

EA: The great thing about LED is that it’s a cool light source (to the touch, rather than ‘cool’). You can do things like The Stories Under Our Feet where you can have an LED light under a park bench to cast the text shadows and it isn’t dangerous to the public. You couldn’t do that with halogen.

Find out more about Elisa and her work