We love showcasing EJ Bartlett’s amazing locally inspired work. And it was remarkably fitting that she had just recently finished an end-of-season skin up the SnowBowl when we connected with her to talk about her work, her process, and what the future might hold.
Photo: Courtesy of EJ Bartlett
So EJ, can you tell us a little more about the story behind your Kingsland Bay piece and how that came to be your gift to your wedding guests?
It started with wanting to design my own invitation to our wedding. And then I really wanted to do something more. I wanted to give the people in our wedding party a gift that was local and personal to us. And that’s how the Kingsland bay piece came to be!
Had you done anything like that before?
I had done a piece for Trout Unlimited when I worked for an advertising agency. That started as a logo that eventually turned it into a poster. And I wanted to do something in a similar style. So that became the inspiration.
After that, did the series happen quickly?
I did the Middlebury Snow Bowl because I love the Snow Bowl. My husband is the ski coach at the college. And there is a piece of my heart connected to the mountain. After that, a local business owner who was carrying my work suggested doing more so Middlebury College came next. Then Camp Dudley asked me to do a piece. And Holmes & Meghan, owners of Two Brothers tavern, asked for one. I keep thinking of doing more. But I really do need a deadline.
Ha! We are happy to give you a deadline. There are so many customers who love your style and often offer suggestions. :-)
What does your process look like now?
First, I go and get a bunch of images of the place I am going to illustrate. I want it to be as true to the space as possible. For camp Dudley I went to the camp and took a lot of pictures. I try to get details up close and then perspective from far away.
Then I create a digital montage. I work in Adobe Illustrator continuing to refine and simplify. In many ways it taps into the logo design work that I did way back when. I think about how to use the negative space to tell the story of the actual space. The beauty of illustration is that it doesn’t have to be ‘the picture.’ Instead, it can represent the picture. It’s a process of removing layers. Or minimizing. Of simplifying and taking away. But then leaving enough to represent it.
If you were to start a piece, how much time does that typically take?
It takes about a week of time to complete a full piece. But I can’t just sit down in one week and finish. I need to step away. Sometimes I have to go away from it and imagine in it my mind. Or also look at it again in real-life. I will look… and look…. and re-think it.
Your work is an iconic style. What artists or art have influenced your design style?
Designing logos has been a huge part. When I first started designing logos they had to work in all black. Gradations of color couldn’t work due to applications like signs. The first piece I designed as a logo. And then changed it to become a poster.
I love Michael Schwab’s work. He does a lot in California - Muir Woods. The Golden Gate Bridge. He’s also done wineries. He’s definitely somebody’s work I admire.
Do you have any hopes and dreams for 2021 around your work, and maybe life in general, that you’d like to share?
I would love to spend time doing different mountains in Vermont. I love skiing so it would be fun to do a whole series of Vermont ski mountains. And then maybe other mountains in other places. I love thinking about how you get the personality of the mountain to come out. You have to really know the place to represent in a way that feels truly authentic.
Thank you EJ! We are so appreciate your time, your creativity, and can’t wait to see what’s next!