Ever wonder who's behind our beloved Winnie the Witch? Or how our windows get those magical doodles? Especially now that they're all decked out for pride in rainbow hues! HausWitch's window tattoos are from the mind of local Salem artist, Morgan Elliott. An illustrator, collage artist, and Kim K superfan, we can't get enough of her wily characters and winding artwork. We took a moment to find out how she got so dang good at making us go "omg that has to go on my wall!"
HausWitch: How/when did you start making art?
Morgan Elliott: I was drawing as soon as I can remember — creating characters, drawing family and friends.
I grew up in Western Massachusetts, close to the Clark Art Institute, Mass MoCA and the Williams College Museum, so being around art was a big part of my childhood. I also remember going to New York in the early 1990’s and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Egyptian wing of the museum was my favorite, especially the Temple of Dendur; the way the human figure was portrayed in hieroglyphics and statues captivated me just as much as the history did.
But it probably wasn’t until I discovered Van Gogh around age seven or eight that I really felt a personal connection to art. I was obsessed with the color of his paintings, and the movement in his brush marks. Because I connected with the intense emotion of his work, I was able to see myself in his paintings and began to feel like art was something I loved and could be good at.
HausWitch: Do you have a regular artistic practice or ritual?
Morgan: I have a studio in my home which I share with my husband Jordan Awan, who is also an illustrator. It’s great because we can share ideas and help each other with projects. I like having that collaborative atmosphere.
I try to work in the studio every day. I have a large wall where I work on my bigger paintings and a desk for drawing. The beach is right at the end of my street, and I like to take a walk down to it at least once a day to take a pause and clear my head. It’s been a great ritual in the middle of the day, no matter what the weather is.
I also like to have multiple projects going on at once. It helps to not let things feel stagnant and keeps my brain moving. I’ll work on a painting for an hour or so then switch to working in my sketchbook and then go back to the painting.
But the real truth is that I watch shitty reality tv while I work, particularly Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I also like to listen to music that gets me excited to be working, like something that I can dance to.
Morgan: Good question! I certainly haven’t always drawn in this particular style; when I was in art school especially, I was focused on technical skill and rendering everything in a realistic way.
The way I’ve been drawing figures recently came out as a rejection of the idea of perfection; it was a way for me to just have fun and express myself in my sketchbook as freely as possible. I started to make things only for myself that made me laugh. I think they are an expression of joy.
HausWitch: Some of your art requires a huge time commitment. What keeps you going on projects that take literally years to complete?
Morgan: My paintings are very different from my drawings. The drawings are an abandonment of rigid rule-making; my paintings have a specific system to them which makes them incredibly time-consuming to create. But because things are spontaneous and open to chance inside that system, the creation of them is always surprising, which keeps it interesting for me. I also love the repetition of the process and working with pure color and form — the paintings are really an exploration and celebration of color. I feel like they are self-portraits.
HausWitch: Is there a message or mission you rely on for your body of work, or do you find each piece takes on a life of its own?
Morgan: I don’t go into making a painting trying to convey or elicit something specific from myself or others. My mission with creativity overall is to keep going.
HausWitch: What is your favorite thing you've ever made? (Besides Winnie of course!!)
Morgan: Hmm… I would say possibly my ongoing Kim Kardashian drawing series, or my large-scale paintings.
The Kim drawings reflect a major shift in my approach to creating, particularly in the sense of breaking rules and making things as if I am the only audience or viewer that matters. And I think my large paintings are the most personal things I have ever made.
HausWitch: Tell us what it's like to live in a house where art is top priority.
Morgan: I couldn’t imagine it being anything else!
HausWitch: Where can I learn more about you?
Morgan: I’m in the process putting together a new website, so your best bet is to find me on Instagram @morgzilla28.
HausWitch: Where can I purchase your art?
Morgan: For paintings, original drawings, commissions and anything else, you can email me at email@example.com.