ABOUT ELLEN BEIER
Born in NYC, I started drawing as a toddler sitting on a pile of telephone books in my artist grandmother’s Brooklyn studio. After studying architecture, I studied and worked abroad—in England and Germany—for many years, where my passion turned towards history. Early books I illustrated were rooted in German culture such as young biographies of Beethoven and Einstein, followed by picture books Mrs. Peachtree and the Eighth Avenue Cat by Erica Silverman and Anne of Green Gables. The Promise Quilt by Candace Ransom takes place during the American Civil War. The Christmas Coat: Memories of my Sioux Childhood, by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, is set on the Rosebud reservation SD in winter 1945. Another rewarding journey into history/ literature was illustrating Les Misérables for a South Korean publisher. A visit to petroglyph sites in Central Asia a few years ago inspired a story I am both writing and illustrating about the discovery of prehistoric art. I live in Corvallis, Oregon and my work can be seen at ellenbeier.com and at instagram.com/ellenbeierart/.
Ellen Beier’s earliest artistic memory is of herself as a toddler, taking the “El” with her artist grandmother from her Brooklyn studio to Coney Island Beach where they sketched the sleeping sunbathers. Likewise, in the decades since, she has created works that manifest picture-stories of others—figures in history, fictional heroines and heroes, scientists, dreamers, storytellers, narrators, brave unknowns. She uses traditional materials including watercolor, colored pencil, gouache on paper, in picture book biographies, histories, and illustrated classical literature. While the inspiration for her illustrations derives from the written texts, she aspires to go beyond the words to connect her audiences to her characters’ emotions.
Various life experiences support this approach, including studies in art, architecture, and book history. In addition, Ellen has lived one quarter of her life overseas in the visually rich environments of London and Hamburg, and recorded that richnness while traveling as far north as Sweden and south to Italy. Always with a sketchbook in hand, more recently she has spent time in Russia and Central Asia, on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and at the magical mountain lake Issykul.