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Don't You See the Starlight? Don't You Dream Impossible Dreams?

Well, my friends, it’s hard to imagine this, but not only has the time for the Starlight Journal release party arrived, it has passed, and so has an entire month! And in that month we also hosted a second book launch. (Yeah, we might be a bit crazy sometimes. More on that launch in a later blog post!)

I spent SO much of 2018 working on creating this journal, and then on creating a magical party experience to launch and celebrate it, and then simultaneously creating the cover and interior for Tell City, that I’m frankly not quite sure what to do with myself now that it’s all over. So I’m taking this time to rest and do my best to really intentionally and thoughtfully plan out 2019.

But for now, I wanted to share some memories and photos of the magical glittering night that was the launch party. For me, this launch party began long long before the end of October, but after about October 13th, it became my entire life. Every spare second I had I was gathering (or often making) pieces for the decor. I spent time combing the Goodwill aisles looking for trays and candles and vases to spray paint, and then multiple days spray painting everything I’d gathered for decor plus a giant piece of fabric to be a cape (plus some extra accidental things like my self, my boots, two friends yards… and then also my water bottle…I got a little bit obsessed with the galaxy aesthetic I was achieving with my spray paint….no regrets!)

I laughed in my friends’ faces when they tried to make plans with me three weeks before the launch party. (Sorry Aron, and probably several others.) I cried a LOT, out of stress, from the weight of feeling like way too much was on my shoulders, and most frequently I shed tears of joy and relief when someone that I hadn’t expected suddenly had my back in ways I couldn’t have anticipated (Thanks especially to Mike, Jacob, Kat, Colleen, Beth, and Megan.). The community support for this project launch was truly an incredible thing to behold. I was truly overwhelmed with love, and some days only remembered to breathe and eat because of my amazing support system. (Shoutout to Mike for almost single handedly keeping me fed for about 3 weeks there.)

Towards the end of October, Kay and I went on a “creative retreat” that was originally supposed to be a full on restful vacation. It was still restful. And it was still magical and wonderful, but it was no vacation. I wove dreamcatchers and we put together book marks and most notably I built my crown for the party on that trip. I went to a Halloween party the weekend before the launch and took my dreamcatcher supplies to finish up what I was working on at the party…we also at the same party combined stashes of essential oils and candle scent oils, concocting the “smell of starlight” in a spare bedroom, and waltzing the different combinations around the party forcing everyone else to smell and lend their opinions on whether “tangerine” or “grapefruit” was the missing ingredient for the elusive scent.

And speaking of capturing starlight in all its ephemeral forms, one of the funniest memories for me was probably what happened in the group chat a couple of weeks prior to the big day. In thinking about music, and drawing a large blank, I turned to my group of trusted advisors for help with music. And I got the best possible question in response:

“Are you looking for songs that mention stars….or songs that sound….twinkly..?”

To which I responded: Both? Both is good (gif included). Mike then huffed about my requests being vague and my instructions unclear. The best moment though was when Megan joined the conversation by just laughing hysterically at how preposterous we were both being, and then totally nonchalantly saying “No worries. I got this.” And boy, did she. She built and incredible playlist that I still listen to sometimes because I love it so much.

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5 Things That Inspire Me

This blog was originally written and published by me on the blog of The Hatch, on December 28th, 2016. View the original post here.

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, it hits you out of nowhere; in the shower, while you’re driving, or while you’re trying to fall asleep. And it’s all you can do to get the new amazing idea down on paper because your heart and mind are racing with the overwhelming excitement of it all.

Other times you sit for hours and stare at a bank piece of paper…. just waiting for all the ideas you had three days ago to come back and present themselves articulately so you can write, paint, draw, or whatever your chosen medium is. As a lifelong artist just starting out on a more full time and serious creative entrepreneurial journey, never has this been more of a problem for me.

Luckily, other creatives have gone before me, and from reading their works and listening to their talks (shoutout to Liz Gilbert, Neil Gaiman, and JK Rowling especially), I have learned that there are a few things I can always fall back on when I need a little help chasing down that fleeting wonderful moment that is inspiration.

#1- Find a story. There is nothing more inspiring to me than a story. Books, poems, songs, short stories, long novels, folk tales, fairy tales. Stories of all kinds are the most inspiring things to me.

I have been a bookworm all my life and have always been interested in “nerdy” things and stories like Alice in Wonderland and Doctor Who.  I am particularly interested in what are usually considered “children’s” fantasy stories: Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid. I believe that these types of stories are relevant for everyone not only because they tell truths of the human condition which resonate with us all, but also because they tell them in beautiful ways that really capture our imaginations and can be understood by everyone. To paraphrase what GK Chesterton once said, fairytales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. And there is something immensely powerful and magical in that.


#2- Get myself to the sea or to the stars. Nature in general is always a great revival and refresher for the soul, especially in our fast paced, glorification-of-busy lives. I think to some degree we are all suffering from perpetual burnout, and nothing has ever been a better cure for that than to just put down our phones and get outside and present with the physical world and our bodies. For me though, the water and the stars are always especially inspiring. There is something so truly awe-inspiring, so universal, so amazing, about standing and just watching the awesome power of the ocean, or watching the endless glittering dance of the stars. It always makes me feel both immensely alive and great, and immensely humbled and tiny all at the same time. These two great natural wonders always put everything in perspective and help me to remember what is truly important.

#3- Ordinary people living extraordinary lives in a hundred little ways are a huge inspiration to me as well. Maybe this is just “stories” in a different way, but people who are passionate, from an amazing biopic about Walt Disney, to the woman who lives down the street and lives for her beautiful garden, never cease to amaze me. The human spirit is just so inspiring. The best example of this is my own Grandfather, who was the single most inspiring person I have ever personally known. An Armenian born in Jerusalem, and raised in abject poverty, he made his way out of that life, came to America, and built a remarkable life for himself, creating a family legacy of grace, determination, curiosity, love, and laughter. By his own example, he taught his family that it matters not where or what someone is born, but who they grow to be. I would truly not be the person I am today without my Grandpa’s fine example, and for that I will always be grateful and inspired.

#4- Speaking of being indebted to others, I truly believe that creative collaboration/brainstorming is one of the most inspiring things anyone can do. And you don’t actually have to be in the same room to creatively collaborate. Books allow us to collaborate, in a sense, with storytellers and inspiring people who lived halfway around the world a hundred years ago, but I still consider that a collaboration of sorts, because it is a meeting of equal minds, and results in a new blending of ideas that can produce new exciting things. Which is truly a little magical, when you think about it. But it doesn’t even have to be as esoteric as that. The digital age allows us to connect to amazing artists all around the world with the click of a button. Pinterest, for example, is flooded with truly astoundingly beautiful art. And if I am ever in a particular creative pickle, it is the first place I look to for instant inspiration. Just being surrounded by other creative ideas and beautiful artwork, whether in a museum, a bookstore, a gallery, or on Pinterest, I find myself instantly refreshed, inspired, and in awe.

#5- My final inspiration (and this is a new lesson that I recently had to learn), comes in the form of meditation and/or yoga, which is also essentially just prayer. Taking time to deliberately switch OFF and recharge, is so important that I could never stress it enough. And it is so much harder and so much more rewarding than it sounds. It is a constant practice and lesson of balance, and I’m certain it is something I will have to consciously work on for the rest of my life. But, when you think about it, unless you slow down sometimes, those moments of inspiration can never truly find you. Sometimes you have to slow down, be still, and give up on chasing the ideas, to let them come to you. This exact principle explains why those most brilliant ideas hit you just as you are drifting off to sleep, or while you are in the shower or driving on a long trip, because in those moments your brain is relaxed; and in that relaxation and stillness, inspiration has the space to come rushing in.

So there you have it: Stories, nature, ordinary people, other art, and being still. I guess when you boil it down, what I am really inspired by is anything that is wondrous, and curious, and beautiful. Those are the stories that I love to hear and discover. And as a visual storyteller, these are the stories that I love to tell.

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Why a Starlight Journal? Part 3

And so we come to the end of this tale...

One day while driving home from work after finding and researching yet another planner online that I thought could maybe be the one but of course was not, it suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning:

I could just make it….

I have those skills. And I know what I need it to include. And at the same time as the idea to make it arrived in my head, I also had a flash of design inspiration. The minute I walked in the door I grabbed paper and a pencil and just spent an hour sketching out each template page. It was, frankly, magical. It was divine inspiration. Now I had a plan.

 The sketches from that very first night...

The sketches from that very first night...

 The weekly spread from the Creative Life Planner! I still use this basic format to this day! 

The weekly spread from the Creative Life Planner! I still use this basic format to this day! 

Over the following few months I designed the templates and began researching printing options (and discovered that THAT process was 12x more complicated than I expected). I began designing the interior spreads, all beautifully and intentionally, and it was taking me longer than I wanted (hi, I’m Elise, and I’m pretty impatient, especially when I’m excited!), I was still making steady progress on this massive project.

And then, life happened. My lease was up, my roommate was moving out to get married, I wasn’t having any luck finding another roommate or another place to live, and my manager had basically just informed me that the salary I was currently receiving was the highest I was ever going to receive at the company, so I was already at the “top” financially speaking and it wasn’t enough to cover my bills. Something had to be done. Something drastic.

So, I moved in with family to cut costs, and I left the job to go out on my own as a freelancer. And those two things meant that my plan for what I was at the time calling “the creative life planner” was officially moved to the back burner and basically turned off.

***

Fast forward a year and a half to the fall of 2017, and I was in a dip of freelance creative life that basically became one giant panic attack of overwhelm- simultaneously zero options and all the options and I was questioning everything. So I sat down and wrote out everything that I *wanted* to be working on and doing with my life instead of panicking about how I was going to pay rent for the umpteenth time. The Creative Life Planner was towards the top of the list. I showed that list to a friend and he said basically “you’ve been slow burning on this for years now. It’s too long. Just finish it and move on already.” And I agreed with him.

But the catch was that I still had neither the time nor the money to do it the way I had always been picturing. In order to do it “properly,” it had to be fully illustrated, fully designed for a full year (or two 6 month books), and it had to be hard cover and spiral bound. Because it was an illustrated planner, damnit, and if I was ever going to hope to market and sell it at a comparable price, it had to be perfect. And those specifics were the things I had neither the time or money to create. So I was still stuck.

***

Then, it was Christmas time, and I was shopping for gifts. One of my best friends has a gorgeous  Tarot deck that we both love, and I was shopping for Christmas presents and also just looking up that deck and contemplating getting one for myself, when I noticed that in the “related products” section on Amazon was something called a “Tarot Journal,” by the same artist and meant to accompany the deck. So, voila, Christmas present found! I ordered it promptly.

When it arrived I was flipping through it because I thought it was just so neat! It was a blank journal, soft cover, but had illustrations from the Tarot cards scattered throughout the blank journal pages….and then it hit me. I could do this with my planner. I could do an illustrated journal. And that could be printed and sold on demand, and if it was a bullet journal instead of a lined journal, it could be versatile enough and still incorporate all of the things that I originally wanted. It was brilliant. It was another stroke of lightning.

Suddenly I was inspired and excited again! And it was almost January, so I was determined to get it designed and finished and up on Amazon’s createspace by January. Well, that was clearly unrealistic, but it was good motivation. I storyboarded the entire thing in a day, and then began putting together the InDesign file.

Of course, life continued to get in the way, and everything creative takes 100x longer than we think it will, because this creative work often has a mind of it’s own. But, the bulk of the work was finished up in just a few short months. The first proof copy was finally ordered in early June.

Sadly it did not measure up quality wise to the demands of this specific book. So after torturing myself and many friends agonizing over what to do about that, I went back to the drawing board and began searching for a way to print it at the quality I wanted. Eventually I found a factory that claimed to be able to do everything I wanted at a reasonable price, and so here we are.

We have launched pre-orders months in advance because, frankly, this is sort of an unofficial Kickstarter. I’m determined to do it anyways, no matter how long it takes. But, until we pre-sell 111 copies, I cannot afford to place the order with the factory at all. But we’re throwing a launch party in November, one way or another. And I’m hoping that the quality and value of the journal will more than incentivize at least 100 people to jump on board and help me make this dream a reality. To make this balance a reality. And I haven’t been disappointed yet by everyone else’s enthusiasm!

I’m confident that this is going to be amazing-- the launch party as well as the physical journals. It’s going to be magical, I’m sure. And luckily, I have my first proof copy of the Starlight Journal to keep me on track while I balance all of the demands of this launch and my regular freelance career. I literally don’t know what I would do without it.

 

Thanks, as ever, for listening to the long and windy story of how this journal came to be! I hope you enjoyed it! 

Order your own copy here -----> www.lusicovicreative.com/starlightjournal


 

 The three different iterations of this project over the years. 

The three different iterations of this project over the years. 

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Why a Starlight Journal? Part 2

At the end of part one of this story, I had just really come to terms with the fact that I needed to build some structure into my life. Because structure is the masculine energy that holds space for and therefore protects the feminine flow and creativity. I had all of the creativity and flow, but it was a raging river with no banks, and I was drowning in it.

I needed to build some banks to organize and contain and direct the flow. I needed some structure. So I set out to find some. I set out to find a planner to keep myself more organized. But like, one that I would actually use. Because, we’ve all had planners before that were great, and really should have been useful, but that just sat unused on the desk for one reason or the other They were the wrong size, or too restrictive, or too boring, or too open, or included budgets and workflows, but no space for appointments or gratitude, or were flimsy and broke down easily, or were too bulky to carry around, etc etc etc.

So I looked and looked for months. And bought SO MANY different planners trying to find one that would actually work; that actually included everything I needed. I wanted it to include budget tracking and also income and expense tracking. I wanted it to include meal planning and grocery lists. I wanted it to include space to just dump all of my chaotic thoughts out of my brain and onto the page so that they could be organized. I wanted it to be large enough to be useful, but small enough to be reasonably portable (so that I could have it with me and record every expense in the same place, every task and thought in ONE place, rather than the dozen half used notebooks I was currently using).

I wanted it to include uplifting and inspiring quotes and images. I wanted it to be beautiful enough that I would *want* to take it with me everywhere and want to use it.

I wanted it to have a place to focus on gratitude, because focusing on gratitude every day has actually changed my life.

I wanted each daily section to be large enough to write sufficient to-dos, but only actually have space for 5 things per day, because I know that trying to accomplish more than 5 things in a day very often just leaves you disappointed and hating yourself. (Realistic goals, people. It’s key!) I wanted to be able to map out my week at a glance, and my month at a glance, on one page. And I wanted it to still include creativity, fun, play. I wanted it to actually balance both masculine and feminine, especially since I knew that my own energies were so out of balance.

And here’s the other thing- while I personally was skewed wayyyy towards feminine energy and chaos, I was encountering a LOT of people that were actually skewed the opposite way. They were so rigid and structured that it was hurting them. And so I thought….as much as I need to incorporate more masculine energy, maybe the people who need to incorporate more feminine flow energy could also find balance by using something like this. Something that allowed them to plan and have structure, but also encouraged them to build creative flow into that structure.

But actually I'm getting ahead of myself now. What happened first was that one day while driving home from work after finding and researching yet another planner online that I thought could maybe be the one but of course was not, it suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning:

I could just make it….

I'm getting long winded again, I know, I know. My stories are all exposition. Hopefully, you like hearing them anyways! ;) Stay tuned for part three! 

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Why a Starlight Journal?

So, I have a confession. I’ve never used a bullet journal before. Or rather, I didn’t use a bullet journal until I got the first proof copy of the Starlight Journal. Which rather begs the question, why did I make an illustrated bullet journal for myself? And the answer is a bit convoluted, to be honest. And it starts three years ago.

Three years ago I went through a mindset bootcamp program, of sorts, in an effort to figure out how the hell this thing called “adulting” works. I felt (like most people probably feel even still) that I had absolutely nothing under control, and didn’t know how to do anything. I had a job that I basically loved as a full time product photographer, but it didn’t pay me enough to even keep a budget. Because the math just could not work. There wasn’t enough. I was overdrafting my bank account regularly, trying to keep to a shoestring budget, and paying too much in rent and in debt repayment. I was single and lonely and I knew it was all wrapped up together, because who would want to even be with someone who was so much of a mess? I knew that something had to change but I had no idea what or how or where to start.

Enter something called the Dating Mindset Bootcamp, which was really not very much about dating and was very much about how to be in your best mindset for your best self. Going through the Bootcamp taught me for the first time about masculine and feminine energies and how we need to balance BOTH to have a good relationship with ourselves and therefore with others. If you have absolutely zero structure (masculine), then you are nothing but chaos (feminine), and while we do need some chaos to keep growing and to keep life interesting, too much of it is just as bad as too much structure and order.

The other thing I learned (or learned to see in a different light) was that I was waaaayyyyy chaotic. Like, the thing is that I am a pretty feminine person. I love dresses and frills and flowers. I love art and beauty and love. I’m obsessed with water, which is archetypically associated with the feminine in almost every single instance. I’m clearly very artistic and creative. I love arts, music, dance, and anything that flows. I’m terrible at time (which is very masculine), I’m SUPER emotional. One of my best friends astutely proclaimed one day on the phone that I “just feel almost everything profoundly,” and I think that’s 100% correct. It’s amazing some days and terrible other days, and it makes me very empathetic, loving, patient, and kind. All of these are good things. But being terrible at math (so, finances), and being terrible at knowing how time works, and having emotions so strong that they can take over my afternoon is often not so good.

I needed to build some structure into my life. I recognized that. Because structure is the masculine energy that holds space for and therefore protects the feminine flow and creativity. I had all of the creativity and flow, but it was a raging river with no banks, and I was drowning in it. I needed to build some banks to organize and contain and direct the flow. I needed some structure. So I set out to find some. I set out to find a planner to keep myself more organized... 

This is a long story, my friends, so I'm going to pause here for now. Stay tuned for the next blog post to read on!

(And in the meantime, since this story is such a throwback, enjoy this major throwback photo from when I went to visit my cousins in California. I had those flip flops in high school!)

jimmy buffet california ocean photo

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the Starlight Journal Pre Orders are LIVE

confetti journal celebrate boho art chic

TIME TO CELEBRATE

illustrated art bullet journal starlight boho

Well, my friends, it’s finally here. The Starlight Journal pre-order launch! And the extra exciting news is that the first 150 copies are listed at an extra special discounted pre-order price, AND all pre-ordered copies will be signed!  Plus, if you order more than one copy, you can take an additional $5 off per copy. 

Some of you may be asking “so, what is the Starlight Journal exactly?” And so here it is:

The Starlight Journal is an illustrated bullet journal. If you’re not familiar with bullet journaling, check out these three resources:

-A quick guide: http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/

-A longer look: http://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/blog/how-to-bullet-journal

-A video tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuaaotSpifM

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(and stay tuned for my own versions of each of those three things!)

 

But a quick explanation is that a bullet journal is a book of pages that are blank except for a faint grid of dots. The purpose is to be versatile. So, you could use a bullet journal as a planner and connect the dots to draw your own grids in for budgeting, meal planning, fitness tracking, a calendar, a marketing plan, etc. Or you could connect the dots to just make lined journal pages and journal, take notes, work on your novel, keep a to do list or grocery list, etc. You can also ignore the dots entirely and just sketch, doodle, brain map, etc. Or use the dots for specific design elements or 3D planning. Really the options are limited only by your own imagination! And for a journal about exploration AND productivity, that versatility in the format was key!

 

 

The Starlight Journal is designed with 150 of these gridded bullet journal pages, plus 100 pages of full color illustration and creativity prompts.

 

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I’ll save the in depth explanation of how I created and designed it for a later date, but what you should know is that I’ve worked for years to bring you this one beautiful, soulful, useful tool to balance and guide your life. It is meant for balancing the seemingly impossible task of keeping track of your life, with still making time for the important creative things like beauty, play, and the things your soul craves.

I created it for myself and for other creatives. It is for the dreamers, the thinkers, and the hustlers. It is for the curious, the adventurous, the people who want to get shit done without losing sight of the stars.

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All of our world is made of the dust of ancient stars, so is it any wonder that we humans have always looked to the stars to guide us home?

Like the stars, the Starlight Journal is both a guiding light and a source of grand inspiration.

 

Featuring a lush matte art hardcover, gilded edge pages, two built in bookmarks, 70lb matte art paper, 150 pages of bullet journal grids, and of course 100 pages of my original artwork and creative prompts, this beautiful all purpose journal is a place to explore, dream, doodle, and create.

 

It is a place of wonder; a place to find enchantment. It can be the tool to organize your life and your goals while still exploring your dreams and reaching for the stars; a place to turn your dreams into tangible reality. So, dear creative, what have you been dreaming of lately?

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Pre-orders are live as of NOW, and the copies will arrive in early November. We have a glittery launch party in the works, which I am SUPER excited about as well! (Think Harry Potter midnight book release parties!) It will take place in Indianapolis in early November, and I will share ALL the details very soon! (We are still nailing them down.)  So stay tuned! You will be able to pick up your pre ordered copy or copies at the launch party though, if you can make it!

 

 

 

 

Click here to get your pre-order copy now! (And remember, only the first 150 copies are at the special pre-order discounted price.)

 

Welcome to the Starlight Journal.

May you find some enchanting wonder among these pages, and leave feeling more inspired and alight.

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What to Expect from Lusicovi Creative

Dear Creatives,

If you’ve been following along on my social media at all (or even talked to me in person recently), you probably have gotten a general idea of what I’ve been up to and what’s coming down the line. But, for the sake of clarity, I wanted to write up a quick outline of the things currently going on at Lusicovi Creative, and also what to expect over the next year. We have a lot of awesome projects we are cooking up here, so bear with me on the length of this post. It might be a little longer than usual.

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First off, you really have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of this yet (because I've been annoying everyone about it), but the Starlight Journal, is finished and now in production!! This has been a project that I have been working on for YEARS, and I’m so proud of how it is turning out and I cannot wait to share it with you! There have been a lot of setbacks along the way, and honestly this is not at all the product I thought I was making when I started. But it’s so much better. Pre-Orders launch at an extra special discounted price (for the first 150 copies only) on August 1st (that's this Wednesday!) And the copies and official launch (including a glittering launch party) will be early November! So, for the next couple of months especially, as we go into launch mode, Lusicovi Creative is going to be almost all Starlight all the time! But, it’s going to be wonderful!  I won’t talk much more about that here, because we’re going to talk your ears off about it in the coming weeks, but I will end with this excerpt from the back cover:

The world is made of the dust of ancient stars, and we humans have always looked to the stars to guide us home. Like the stars, the Starlight Journal is both a guiding light and a source of wonder for creatives seeking balance.

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Secondly, I’ve already started working on this project preliminarily, but it has been mostly on the back burner since it’s inception almost a year ago. This project is also a book project, and is a collaborative, unique project that I am also really excited about and anxious to get back to! This book will be called Into the Sea: Fairytales of Atlantis, and it is a curation of artwork and stories that collectively explore the question: what if the story of Atlantis was a princess fairytale story? The submissions that we have gotten already are blowing us away, frankly, and this book is going to be truly beautiful. It is definitely still in the collaboration and art creation stage. So if you are a writer or artist (or you know a writer or artist) and would like to get in on this group creativity action- send me an email at fairytalesofatlantis@gmail.com, and we will be sure to get you included! The current plan is to create a group and be really active in there in September, into next Spring, and then final deadlines for submissions will be next Spring, so that next Summer we can launch a kickstarter to fund the printing of this beautiful book.  

 

Starting in August, I will be re-launching my society6 shop, in an effort to focus more on my artwork. This will be a way to achieve three exciting things! One, to make my artwork available and affordable. Two, to keep me generating new artwork and products continually (we will launch one new design per month from September onward!). And three, to give all you marvelous creatives and supporters a way to adorn your lives with some great boho and literary beauty! So look out for those shop updates every month starting in August, and if there is a particular piece I’ve done or that you want to see done and up in the shop, definitely drop me a line and let me know!

 

Another way that I’m pivoting to focus more on artwork is by focussing my business more on book cover designs than anything else. Because I am such a bookworm, and my artwork has always been pretty literary inspired anyways, this is the perfect way to combine all of the things I love to do. So, as such I will be collaborating with authors, particularly self publishing fantasy authors, not just as their book cover designer, but as general support as well. The reason I design book covers is because I want to tell the story in enchanting visual ways, and my aim will always be to work with storytellers to truly capture the story within, entice readers to pick up and buy the books, and therefore help my authors realize their dreams of publishing successful books. So you can expect to see a lot more talk of upcoming books from me in the future! (Pssst: the first one will be Tell City, by a very dear friend of mine, Kaylin R Boyd. We just finished the cover for Tell City this summer, and the cover reveal is scheduled for mid August, so stay tuned, especially if you like urban fantasy or anything at all by Neil Gaiman!)

  As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of  Tell City.  

As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of Tell City. 

 

With all of these big changes and exciting projects coming down the pipeline, you can also expect a lot more consistency from me in updates. I’ve obviously launched a blog, and while the blog posts over the next couple of months will be quite frequent as we really explain everything that the Starlight Journal has to offer, even after November, expect at least one monthly email update with the shop update, recent blog posts, and other fun behind the scenes news!  

Finally, though these are still long off dreams, I do want to mention two really big projects that are in the works for the future of Lusicovi Creative. One is the next book project after Atlantis, which will be an illustrated (with underwater photography + painting and montage) and re-imagined and re-written version of the classic The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The second is even bigger in scope. But it will be a semi-annual magazine publication entitled The Starlight Emporium: Beautiful and Thoughtful Art and Stories. Combining many of the ideas and values of both the Starlight Journal and the Atlantis project, this will be a regular collection of beautiful and thoughtful art and stories that focus on anything curious, fantastic, and wonder-filled. There will be gorgeous photos and art, written poems, short stories, and articles that inspire, travel adventures, and featured artists, writers, and locations each time. There will also always be a featured “curiosity” article about anything interesting and related to a life of creative adventure (think health and wellness tips, financial talks, psychology, astronomy & other science, and ways to access creativity and divinity).

It will be for the curious, the adventurous, the thinkers, the dreamers, the magic makers, the ones aching for more creative connection. It will be physically printed, because there is just nothing like holding the physical art and words in your hands, or tearing out your favorite most inspiring pages and hanging them on your wall. And because, let’s face it, we all need to be better about getting off our screens and being grounded and in touch with actual wonder. It will be for anyone seeking wonder and connection in these frazzled, busy, exciting times of ours, and I cannot wait to get started on it. If you have any ideas for any art, stories, or creators and adventurers to feature, please email me at lusicovicreative@gmail.com and let me know about them!

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So friends, this where we are at. This is what I've been dreaming of lately.

This is what you should expect to see from me and Lusicovi Creative in the coming months and even years. I have to say, it feels really wonderful, grounded, and peaceful to have an actual plan more or less in place. Of course I expect for there to be curveballs and unexpected turns along the way. But overall I feel confident that this is basically the plan and trajectory. This is my mountain, as Neil Gaiman would say, and I’m very happy to be on the way there.

To follow along with this artistic business journey, and to support me and my art, make sure you are subscribed to my email newsletter here. I also humbly invite you to visit my Patreon page, and consider contributing whatever amount you are comfortable with to these projects. It would really mean the world to me. Especially if there is a project or piece that I mentioned in this email that you would like to see worked on and completed sooner rather than later, I urge you to support the project fiscally.

These projects are the things that light me up, the things that make my soul sing, and the things that make the hardships of life worth living through. So they are projects that I am always going to complete regardless. However, the biggest up in the air factor is always the timeline. The more time I have to devote to other jobs that drain my energy and soul, but allow me to pay rent and buy food, the less time and energy I have to devote to these projects, and therefore the longer it will take to see them realized. So if you believe that art is worthwhile, and that these projects are worth doing, please visit my Patreon here.   

All my love and light,

Elise

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Why Underwater?

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” - Loren Einsley

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Water is magic, in a sense. It is literally life bringing, life sustaining, and -can be- life ending. Water is beauty, power, grace, flow, divinity, creation, destruction, patience, awesome, fearsome, the source of all life and the thing that sustains life as we know it here on earth. It is the key ingredient.

Because it is literally all these awe-inspiring things, it is easy to associate it with the divine, and to see it as magical and otherworldly.

It’s even easier to associate it with divine mysticism when we realize that the oceans are still mostly a deep, unknown, mystery. Dip beneath the waves and your vision is changed, your hearing is changed, your air is gone, and gravity and light behave differently. It is about as close to another world as we earthlings can physically get.

 

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It’s no small wonder then, that psychologically speaking, water is representative of the divine feminine- of chaos, creation, power, beauty, flow, and life. The parallels are so self evident that they are universal. Every human on any corner of the earth at any point in time inherently understands the power, magic, and divinity of water.

Perhaps because of this universality, or perhaps they are just to intrinsically linked to ever untangle which came first, but either way, psychologist Carl Jung identifies water as the collective universal subconscious. Water is the dream state. The unknown and unknowable but beautiful alien realm. And that’s no wonder either, since whether we are daydreaming of a day at the beach,  or fighting night terrors of floods in our basement, water is the stuff of dreams both wonderful and terrifying.

The subconscious is a place to sort out the things that we know but we don’t quite know we know, or don’t yet quite understand. Much like the process of making art, it is chaotic, mysterious, and when it’s wonderful, it flows magically.

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For all of these reasons (plus my own personal divine Moana-like calling to the sea), I cannot think of a better realm in which to explore my work than in the flowing, brilliant, mysterious, fantasy land of dreams, the subconscious, and the divine that is the underwater realm. A better marriage of subject matter and setting would be difficult even to dream up.

And besides, as everyone knows, if there’s magic on this earth, it is definitely contained in water.  

 

To support my creative journey into the waters of unknown and light, visit my Patreon. 

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Why Fantasy?

Stories, particularly myths, legends, and fantasy,  are how we as humans examine, explore, and ultimately explain the human condition.

The editors of the book Fantasy offer a profound take on the merit of fantasy literature (and by extension, all fantasy art.) They state that fantasy authors create new worlds in order to rid their readers of preconceptions and prejudices that are found in day-to-day life. By removing these biases, moral standards and truths can be examined in new, fresh, ways, and hopefully, lessons can be learned that would otherwise be out of reach.

In his article “Children and Fairy Stories,” JRR Tolkien argues for the validity of fantasy as a genre in literature. Fantasy in this and most cases includes everything from ancient myths and legends, to folklore, to the classic fairy tales, to Tolkien’s own The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.

Tolkien makes the point that “the goal of fantasy is to lead the reader to a keener understanding of himself and his world.” The idea being that in the fictional work can be found deeper truths about the world around us. So by reading the story, we can better understand ourselves and our world.

RG Collingwood demands almost the same exact thing of art in general in his aesthetics. He claims that the artist proper works with the world from beginning to end to help the world see what he (the artist) sees; to help them find out things about themselves through the art.

He says that the artist, instead of being “the great man who imposes upon the world the task of understanding him, will be a humbler person, imposing upon himself the task of understanding his world, and thus enabling it to understand itself.”

My personal hope is always that people viewing my work in the context of the new fresh combination of technique and media will perhaps gain some insight into themselves or their world. (I’ll get into my technique a little more in detail in some later blog posts, so stay tuned!)

So, where does fantasy come from? What is its history? (Other than a long history of British writers defending it.) The short answer to this question is ‘human imagination.’

However, I am a little more concerned with its historical origins and how it has developed across time. For as long as there have been humans, presumably those humans have always strived to explain themselves and their world.

There are records as far back as 2000 B.C. of fantastical stories in Ancient Egypt, including one that is essentially the story of Cinderella. The myths and legends of Ancient Greece are, if not actually common knowledge, certainly not lost to the ages.

What is most fascinating to me is that across all borders of time and geography, humanity continuously comes up with essentially the same mythological and magical stories. If we keep writing this story, the very fact of its repetition begs us to ask why? What value does it hold to us? To ALL of us; all humans everywhere and at every time. There must be something worthwhile in there.

The description of “the story of an uninitiated young hero who must voluntarily battle and outwit forces much greater than himself in order to return home” can be applied to everything from Gilgamesh to Odysseus to Harry Potter to Luke Skywalker.

With only a little bit of a stretch, that description could even apply to everyday people in their everyday lives. Often in everyday life we encounter and must overcome forces greater than ourselves in order to simply survive the day and get back home.  My own entrepreneurial journey certainly fits this bill. Many relationships fit this bill. We are continuously going out there into dangerous unknown territory (either literally or psychologically/metaphysically) and back again to safety.

Fairy tales, the ancestor and cousin of modern fantasy literature (and quite often the inspiration), are often the same story again as the even more ancient myths, though perhaps slightly less fantastical. Often it is not a literal dragon that the Princess must fight, but everyday evil people, and metaphorical dragons. In some cases, she must face the slightly less commonplace evil magical Queen or Jabberwocky. In this way, Fairytales can usually be seen as a step closer to reality.

Magic is always involved in Fairy tales, but with that exception, the tales could take place in our own world, as opposed to in Middle Earth or in galaxies far far away. Even those that end up in Wonderland usually begin and end here in our world.

The best aspect about fantasy stories of all sorts is that they parallel real life. I suspect that this is why they are so popular, and why since the dawn of time, humans have been compelled to tell such stories. This is what makes them so valuable.

Whether the evil in the story takes the form of dragons, evil queens, or simply nasty step-sisters, there is evil present, just as there is in the real world. And by watching the heroes of our stories bravely face and conquer their dragons and evils, we are instilled with the inner strength and courage to conquer our own "dragons."

As G.K. Chesterton famously stated, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

By seeing metaphorical versions of our own challenges successfully overcome, we begin to believe that we too can face our own metaphorical dragons. If Alice can face a Jabberwocky, we can stand up to the bully on the playground, or the coworker taking advantage of us. We too can believe in “impossible” things. And there is magic and value in that, you can be sure.

 

To support my artistic excursions into fantasy, please visit my Patreon. 

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Why My Art?

Dear Creative Soul,

Welcome, welcome dear brand new blog reader, to my own personal Neverland: Lusicovi Creative; here there be mermaids!

My name is Elise, and I am an Enchantment Photographer. Capturing wonder and creating enchantment is my specialty. I am a giant nerd and am fascinated by stories, the sea, the stars, and exploring questions like "why are we here?" and "what is the human condition?" and "why are we all still SO universally drawn to fairytales?"

My artwork is always literary inspired with a bohemian feel. I believe that both fantasy art and fantasy writing are incredibly important, because they allow us to explore very real problems in a safe space. Voldemort does not exist, but Hitler did. Evil Queens and step mothers don't (usually) exist, but surly bosses and prickly landlords do. And as CS Lewis once said, "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."

I have a lot of other people’s thoughts (and a few of my own) on the value of art in general (For more on that, read my first ever blog post here.), and that is all well and good. But still, a curious brain like mine, which is always asking “why everything” cannot be satisfied without also answering why this art in particular?

And the most honest answer is actually: I don’t know.

Or maybe, I don’t know yet.

Or maybe I do know already. Somewhere on some lower level that I cannot properly express. Because, in truth, the ideas just come to me, usually almost fully formed. And usually formed in ways that I don’t consciously understand how exactly to create them when I start out in the process of creating them.

I don’t always know where they come from, but I have noticed that they do usually come from other art, stories, and myths. They come from archetypes. Maybe, actually probably, in a lot of ways, they are themselves archetypes. The Pandora Series that I created as my college thesis certainly was archetypal. (Stay tuned to this blog for more on that later!)

Archetypal or not, they call to me to be created, like the sea calls to Moana. And just like her, the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. I just have to trust that following the inspirations will bring me to where I need to be. And so far, they haven’t been wrong yet.

This is why, above all, I believe in the value of art to inspire and challenge us, children and adults alike, artists and viewers alike, readers and writers alike.

And I would like to think that my art, by exploring these big ideas about who we are as humans, why we do the things we do, and what amazing magical things we are capable of, can inspire others to re-examine what they think they know about the world and about themselves, and that together we can all learn and grow a little more.

I believe in spreading magic, beauty, love, & light, so that together we can inspire and empower the world, and I cannot do this work without your love and support. I appreciate more than words can say the support, the encouragement, and anyone who believes in this same mission, and I honor your part in allowing me to continue spreading this inspiring message and truly living my artistic life.  

To support my ever evolving artistic career, and to help me create the inspiring visions that come to me, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or check out how you can work with me as an artist or photographer here.

And of course, stay tuned to this blog (or subscribe to my email newsletter here) to see many more art pieces, and to read many more thoughts and musings about the value of art, the process of my art, magical stories, and many more exciting projects that I have in the works. If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it. Just send me an email at lusicovicreative@gmail.com.  


Love and light, always,

Elise

 

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Why Art?

The Earth, without Art, is just “eh.” This line is better than just a fun play on words, because it’s true. Art brings color, light, and awe to the world. It is transcendent. At least, good art is. It can make you think, wake you up, give you new avenues to explore, and bring you to an encounter with the divine.

There’s a great line in the movie Dead Poets Society that really captures this:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love...these are what we stay alive for.”

Good art usually encapsulates all four; poetry, beauty, romance, and love, in one way or another.

Life is hard, just at the baseline. Humans are vulnerable beings. Every single one of us battles misfortune, disease, mother nature, and eventually time. We need art, beauty, wonder, romance, and love to make the dullness and drudgery of life worth living through.

That may all sound woefully depressing to you, but I don’t see it that way. Because, really, we cannot change anything about the baseline state of life. We can change our communities, and the world, if we are very ambitious, sure. But we cannot change the facts that disease and mother nature and plain old bad luck exists. As Neil Gaiman says in his famous Make Good Art commencement speech, “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art.”  

We cannot eliminate the struggle or vulnerability or disease or death that comes with life (and even if we could, do we really want to? Don’t the bad times make the good things better? Just as there can be no light without darkness?) We cannot truly stop time from marching ever onward. But what we can do is make our time here worthwhile.

We can make our lives worthwhile. By creating beauty, wonder, love, and transcendent  experiences for ourselves and our fellow struggling humans. We can encounter the divine in spite of the hard toil of life, sometimes even because of it. We can make good art. And that can make all the difference.

Art is divine because to make art is to create something; to pull something into existence when before there was nothing. It is to participate in an actual act of creation. And to properly view and engage with a piece of art that anyone has created is to bear witness to an unfathomable act of creation.

“Abracadabra” means “I create as I speak.” And what could be more magical, more divine, more poetic, than speaking and acting so as to bring a piece of art and beauty into being? No wonder it makes up for the “eh.”

  My mom and I visiting the Van Gogh exhibit in Chicago, April of 2016. <3

My mom and I visiting the Van Gogh exhibit in Chicago, April of 2016. <3

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