Elaine Maher is a young and upcoming Irish artist based in Edinburgh who has designed an elephant for the 2013 Elephant Parade national tour.Elaine is a designer and illustrator who graduated from Limerick design school in 2010. Her work is made up of bright and colourful images with underlying darker themes running through. “I usually draw on whatever inspiration comes into my head, I’ll sit down and doodle little pictures. Colour is very important to me as I think happiness is associated with brightness. Positivity is a key element in my work.”
This desire for happiness and positive emotion is evident in Elaine’s final design for the 2013 intu Elephant Parade. “Happiness is for everyone” was designed with the idea in mind that happiness is an inclusive concept and should be something accessible to everyone regardless of his or her interests and beliefs. Her design for the elephant is made up of lots of smiling creatures including teddy bears, penguins, layers of cheery mountains and even aliens on the elephant’s toenails. One of the most memorable images on Elaine’s elephant is the big black moustache across its trunk, which, according to Elaine, developed quite accidently. Elaine was putting in little platforms, or “floaty pieces of land” for the characters to perch on and they developed into moustaches. The clouds and the blue background reflect the continuity between sea and sky, providing the perfect backdrop for the journeys that each of the characters are on. “In this weird and wonderful world, everyone is on a journey to find happiness.” Each character and story was designed individually and then added together to create the final piece.
The logistics of creating “Happiness for Everyone” proved a little complicated as Elaine works from her flat which is on the third story of a building in central Edinburgh. “I don’t have a studio, I work in my flat and getting the elephant up two flights of stairs and inside was a bit of a challenge.” Once it was in and Elaine was faced with the task of painting the final piece she admitted to being a little daunted but said she soon got lost in the creative direction of her work.
Elaine is yet to see the herd of elephants together so she is looking forward to them arriving in Glasgow. Elaine comments: “I’m going to join up with some friends and we are going to head over and make a big weekend of it. Looking at the pictures from London and Manchester there is such a sense of surprise and delight on people’s faces as they discover the elephants, so I can’t wait to witness that first hand.”
Elaine is also keen to get even more involved with the Parade when it makes it’s way up to Scotland, perhaps with one of the painting workshop for children during the Glasgow leg of the tour.
Elaine is currently working on a project for Safari Lounge in Edinburgh, describing the new work as “a 10ft by 4ft painting of the world covered in my doodles and creatures.” She is also working on launching her new website and embarking on a broader range of creative freelance work.
Reflecting on her involvement with Elephant Parade Elaine adds: “From the initial range of sketches I produced, I’m so pleased I went with my own Happiness for Everyone theme on my elephant. It seems to really capture the enduring spirit of this national tour, which is raising awareness of elephant conservation and giving people a real reason to smile.”