Interview with Elizabeth Querstret!

Hi Elizabeth, nice to meet you earlier! Thanks for giving us some work for the art show and zines for the pop-up!
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your work…


It was nice to meet you too – and very funny waiting at the door looking at everyone like they’re the person I’m about to meet.

Hmmm, ok, so like many, I am obsessed with being creative. I have endless ideas buzzing in my head and I often get told they are a little surreal. However, if an idea seems to stick in my head or grow, I will act on it, regardless to how others may view it.
I’ve always been drawing, painting and following odd crafts. For years my creations would be given as gifts to friends and family or sit in my home due to not having the confidence or awareness that others may be interested. It was about a year ago I decided to make one of my ideas a reality… I had a series of illustrated thoughts that I turned into a small book, I printed 50 copies, tied individual notes saying ‘oo hello I’m free, take me’, and then planted them in shops across the country for people to unknowingly discover. On the cover was an explanation of why I was doing this: – excited and curious by the idea that my work could connect me to strangers. I loved the idea that I may never know some people, but we could have a connection through something I made.
A few people who found some of the hidden books got in touch and this ignited happy feelings in my tummy! Since then, I’ve grown in confidence to continue making things because I like them and to not shy away so much in sharing it with others.
I now create or plan to create ideas in my head when I have available time. On the whole my work is predominantly auto-biocomics. I suppose the best description of these are loose, quirky sketches to mirror the optimism I usually have. Plots follow events I’ve witnessed and have found ridiculous, or document a scenario where I have managed to behave in an embarrassing fashion.Over all, I try to look at potential negative encounters in a positive light.
Other bits of work I do can vary a lot and includes a recent project I’m about to sell next week, about animals being over heard on phones, origami Walnuts that once opened reveal a secret about Walnuts and strange illustrations of whatever creeps into my head.
Mole Call copy
Wow, I’ve gone on a bit! Sorry
That’s ok!  I like the idea of leaving comics around, it reminds me of dan wilson, a super-outsider that used to do tape dropping years ago…(link) what kind of response did you get?
Initially, I didn’t get any response from the books, then one night logging onto my e-mails: ‘I found your book’ was sitting in my inbox. My stomach did cartwheels of joy, I can remember lying on my bed squealing with excitement. I reacted similarly each time. I think about 6 people got in touch to say they had found one of my hidden books and all the responses were incredible. Some drew me pictures and others explained how their day had been transformed for the better by my book.

I think the response that completely blew me away was a great example of serendipity. I attended my first zine fair as a browser. SerendipityWhile chatting to Gareth Brookes about his beautiful book, another browser pipped up to say she had enjoyed the book too. Gareth explained that he would shortly be doing a talk. We both sat to wait for the presentation and while we waited, conversation began. I explained how I had been hiding some books. She then told me that she had come across something similar. I thought, ‘oh wow, someone else has had the exact same idea’. I pulled out my book to show her and she announced that was the book she had found several months ago!! Keara Stewart had become connected to me through my work, and it was like finding a needle I didn’t know existed in the big hack-stack of London. She has now become an incredibly good friend to me and I love that my art bought us together.

Wow! That’s an awesome story, I <3 keara and her work too! As for gareth brookes… He’s the fucking king! Who else do you like reading/looking at art-wise?

Keara’s recent solo exhibition – ‘on the escalator’ was beautiful and creatively clever.

As for reading comics…not sure if I should really confess to this but I don’t read a great deal. I suspect I should spend more time dedicated to exploring other comic work, but so far I’ve not. I love people showing me their work in person and talking me through their thought process and journey. There are two elements to enjoying art – the personal pleasure from looking and feeding your own imagination and then the knowledge of context from the creator.
There is so much art I enjoy and I mostly take inspiration from places that would not be considered obvious art. I suppose if this was like Top of the Pops in my head for art, then my top ten sources of enjoyment in no particular order, would be… Van Gogh, Picasso, Joesph Cornell, David Shrigley, Folk Art, Art Deco, Dungeness, A local front garden full of old toys, Quentin Blake, Richard Scarry and Beatrix Potter.

“Local garden full of old toys”sounds cool, and maybe I’ll use that for the interview title!
Finally, have you anything to add, links etc, and whats next for you?(briefly!)

It really is cool and makes me so happy each time I walk past.

I have just printed a small full coloured book called ‘Zoological’ that depicts different animals being overheard on their mobiles. I am hoping to push this book out on to the world, before starting with another animal inspired project. As ever, I continue to publish short auto-bio comic updates on every Sunday and Wednesday. Should anyone want to keep up to date with my movements, they can follow me on Twitter: @querstret and my Facebook page: Elizabeth Querstret Comics.

It’s been lovely chatting with you and hope all your planning and organising goes relatively smoothly!

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