Artist Spotlight: Ellen Surrey

At Bigger Dot we love art, which means we love artists. There is a long list of artists who we admire, and we would like to introduce you to one of them.

Meet Ellen Surrey.

Uplifting colors and a playful mid-century flare are a big part of what Los Angeles based illustrator Ellen Surrey is known for. As an L.A. native, the city sparks Ellen’s creativity daily, but her artistic inspiration started much earlier. She was heavily influenced by Disney animator Mary Blair, fashion and graphic design from the 50’s and the Little Golden Books collection.

Ellen had the advantage of growing up in an artistic home. She knew from a very early age that she wanted to be an artist. “My father was an animator for over 20 years, so I grew up making art and learning a lot from him. I think it makes a big difference when you grow up knowing art can be a career and I’m very grateful to know what I wanted to do from a young age.”

Ellen fell in love with the art of illustration in High School and continued to pursue her passion in college. She attended Art Center College of Design and, during her time there, discovered her preferred media, gouache. Gouache resembles watercolor but can mimic the vibrant look and feel of acrylic or oil paints. It was this medium, also a favorite of Mary Blair’s, that allowed her to define her personal artistic style. These days, most of Ellen’s professional work is done in PhotoShop, but she still loves to sneak away in the solitude of night to paint.

The artwork of Ellen Surrey will surely brighten your day. It can also transport you back in time. She finds a lot of inspiration from vintage shopping, both online and at local flea markets. She especially enjoys the annual Downtown Modernism show at Modernica where she will purchase or simply photograph tons of mid-century treasures. Ellen sees these inspiring pieces of history as pieces of art. “Art reflects not only where the artist is personally but can also reflect the time in which it is made. It’s an expressive form of history.”

When asked what motivates her creativity, Ellen described it as a compulsion. “It’s like an itch that constantly needs to be scratched.” She makes it a priority to flex her creative muscles in some way every day, even when she can’t paint or draw. To her parent’s credit, her compulsion may just come from the early encouragement she received as an artist. Not only was Ellen reassured that her talent and passion were valuable, but she also saw that art could be a successful career. This foundational experience shaped Ellen Surrey into the talented young artist she is today.

With any luck, we will continue to teach young people, especially young girls, that their artistic talent and passion can become a career one day. Mary Blair, Ellen Surrey… who will be next?

bigger dot is a global print project management company that provides custom, specialized and strategic print project solutions. We work with industries such as performing arts, tech, education, aerospace, and corporate culture changers.