Elisa Parhad is a writer and photographer in Los Angeles, by way of Seattle, Albuquerque, Austin and Japan. Whether at home or abroad, she travels with a camera, curiosity and an anthropological eye towards art, design, cultural heritage and history.
Elisa's first children’s book, "Los Angeles Is..." (Cameron Books), came out in April 2018. She is also the author/photographer of “New Mexico: A Guide for the Eyes,” (winner of the New Mexico Book Award, 2010), “Southern California: A Guide for the Eyes” (INDIEFab Finalist, 2016), and well as published in the Los Angeles Times, Delta Sky magazine, BBC Travel, FACES magazine, and Western Art and Architecture. She lives with her husband and their two young boys in Pasadena, California.
I've been creating books since I was a little kid. I've dabbled in ceramics, drawing, design and photography, but the creation of books is my natural way of getting the swirling ideas in my head out. What's great about that is that it takes lots of different creative mediums to create a book, so I can utilize several different creative skills at once. It doesn't just stop at childrens' books either, I have ideas for books for just about any idea you can think of!
I wanted to create an authentic and beautiful ode to the city of Los Angeles in "Los Angeles Is..." LA is such a dynamic, creative and vibrant city--oftentimes misunderstood--and there were no good kids books that explored the life and culture of the city. This struck me as odd because 1) there are so many wildly creative people here and 2) this is the one place in the country that SO many kids from around the country and the world visit thanks to Disneyland and other theme parks. My biggest challenge was how to format and layout what I hope is a representation of life in this amazing city. It took years to sort out in my head!
I am also a travel writer/photographer and run my own publishing company called EyeMuse Books. For that company I created a series of books that explore places called "Guides for the Eyes." If I wasn't doing any of that, perhaps I would have become a cultural geographer? A museum curator? An art historian? An anthropology professor? I have lots of interests and could see myself wearing many different hats. I am very lucky to have had lots of opportunity to dream about becoming many different things. And, I still have time!
I have many, many people that I think often about creating a book with. My friend, Amy Duchene, and I have talked about writing a book together inspired by our time in swimming pools as kids. I also have several crushes on illustrators with whom I'd love to create words they could illustrate and turn into a book. To me, regardless of the words, illustration is what can make a book great. I also quite like the work of Sara Gillingham and would love to have a book art directed, or illustrated, by her.
Ideas come from anywhere, so my philosophy is to get out, try new things, always be learning, exploring, asking questions. I don't do anything specifically for ideas. If anything I have a backlog of ideas and not enough time to get them all out (and some of them are probably too niche to make sense to publish traditionally.) But if I'm feeling uninspired, a trip to the library or bookstore to look at other books always provides new ideas.
A well rounded sense of Los Angeles.
Adventures of all kinds with my family and exploring anything from my own street to streets around the world.
Open mindedness and kindness.