We had the good fortune of connecting with Elissa Title and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elissa, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. I attended art camps every summer where I was exposed to famous artists’ work and a range of hands-on classes including scrapbooking, painting, drawing, clay beading, and papier-mâché. Whenever I traveled abroad (and I’ve been to all 7 continents and nearly 60 countries), I’d make time to visit special exhibitions, artistic galleries, and museums. What really solidified a career in the arts, however, was taking a graphic design class at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades, California. I had never heard of graphic design, and my teacher’s passion is a huge reason why I am a graphic designer/photographer today. The photography part comes from an evolving hobby that has since turned professional with international gallery exhibitions and magazine publications– I always used to steal my mom’s point-and-shoot camera when we would travel and for high school graduation, she had asked what I wanted as a gift. Most kids that age would probably say a trip to Europe, but I asked for a professional camera. So, she gave me my first DSLR. Since then, I’ve self-taught myself photography and have worked my way up to getting published on an international level. I’ve had my work shown in gallery exhibits in Greece (twice) and Italy as well as local exhibits in Southern California. I’ve also written a photo essay for Wildlife Photographic Magazine on my time in Arctic Norway and have had photos published in Australia Zoo’s Crikey! Magazine, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Landscape Photography Magazine, and more.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Having traveled so extensively, I have seen poverty, declining animal populations, the evolution of new technologies, and consequences of human development on nature. I have interacted with hundreds of people from different religious, political, geographical, and cultural backgrounds. As I’ve traveled, I’ve become more socially aware of the global community and as I’ve become more aware, I’ve become more interested in raising much-needed awareness on a variety of issues. While I support numerous organizations across the globe (including a hot lunch program in Tanzania, rhino conservation in Botswana, and conservation education in Zimbabwe), I’ve found that the greatest weapon is the power of an image. My graphic design work incorporates a lot of my original wildlife photography to spark conversation on how we can work together to co-exist — taking care of our planet, and each other. I also utilize my photography as stand alone images or as part of a larger photo essay.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m totally biased because I have friends who work for San Diego Zoo Global, so I’d have to say there. When you can’t travel abroad, it’s great to be able to support an organization that not only gives back on community and international levels but also contributes to saving species. Visiting the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park alone can take an entire day… but I suggest more if time allows for it. My favorite animals to check out are definitely the okapi, so that’s the first stop!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For the past two years, I have poured my heart and soul into designing (from scratch– no templates!) a 240-page photography book of my travels. My BFA in graphic design from Chapman University helped me accomplish this project. In fact, it was one of my graphic design professors at Chapman who suggested I make a book to begin with. So, here’s to the graphic design department at Chapman University. Claudine, Eric, Andrew, Rachelle, Pat, and so many others… thank you for helping prepare me for this huge accomplishment. You can check out my photography book, Next Stop Everywhere, here: https://www.blurb.com/b/
I’d also like to thank Matt and Xun over at Laguna College of Art + Design, where I briefly attended, for supporting me in my photographic endeavors. It is because of Xun that I won first place in the LA 18 Beautiful Moments competition. As a result of winning a monetary prize and in the spirit of giving back to others, I had donated $1,000 to Rhinos Without Borders in Botswana to support anti-poaching. Finally, I’d like to give a huge shout out to my loved ones for supporting my dreams and artistic journey. To quote my mom, “As long as you do something you’re passionate about, you will be happy”.
Other: Photography book: https://www.blurb.com/b/10151952-next-stop-everywhere Travel blog: http://globetrotting-elissa.blogspot.com/