Elise Rose on designing for Pxssy Palace and centring marginalised communities at the core
Addressing a lack of diversity in the gaming and entertainment industries, the designer’s work is both empowering and necessary.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 April 2022
In one scene, a fairy leans against a family of toad stools; the character has beautifully coloured wings, their skin is glassy and their ears pointy. The world around is luminously green and bright, so vibrant that even the fairy needs to wear a pair of sunglasses to shield from the hues. Meanwhile, another scene depicts a manicured hand reaching out to a galaxy filled with stars and astrology signs; the sun and moon sit metaphorically in their palm. This is the work of Elise Rose, a graphic designer who builds fantastical worlds influenced by RPG video games, sci-fi and rave culture.
Elise was born and raised in Coventry, a place that, while growing up, she feels lacked in creative resources and inspiration for the city’s youth. “I had wanted to do media,” she tells It’s Nice That, “but due to a mistake by my school, I had to do the closest thing to that which was photography. I ended up loving it and pursuing it further but always felt like there were limitations to the scenes I could create.” Meanwhile, Elise nurtured an enduring interest in gaming, especially that of building characters and making a fantasy version of herself free of constraints. As a result, she wanted to create her own alter ego avatar, something she could add visually to the mixes she was making as a DJ. This is the moment she fell in love with the medium of 3D; “I felt that, like music, the only limit is your imagination.”
These days you’ll find Elise continuing to add to her creative worlds, constructing ethereal characters going about their day – probably dancing – and galavanting in fantastical lands. She also works as a graphic designer for Pxssy Palace, forming the visuals for their club night that celebrates queer women, trans, non-binary and intersex BIPOC. “The nights Pxssy Palace put on and contribute to are legendary and they’ve really built a community and support for QTIPOC that feels so much more than the events,” she explains. Elise has also been a long-term attendee of the night and has also DJd, so when Nadine, one of Pxssy Palace’s founders and organisers, became aware of her art, they (naturally) got in touch about collaborating. “They have great themes for each event where you can dress up (or not, no pressure!) and that really inspires me to create playful new art that centres us in different worlds.”
All of Elise’s work, no matter how weird or vivid, will draw itself around two key pillars: escapism and fantasy. She finds joy in the subject matter and will translate her interests directly into her artistic style through sketches, 3D animation software and post-production processes. In All Hands On Deck, she marks this piece as the one that represent her vision the most. Featuring a digital bottom and a load of hands, not only is it fun, it also “represents sexuality, pleasure, people of colour, raves and the hyperreal,” she says. A couple of recent works for Pxssy Palace are Elise’s other favourites, chosen for the way they subvert societal norms. Titled Fairy Core and Cosplay, she says, “they are generally two subcultures that don’t centre curvy brown babes, so it was nice to flip that narrative”.
Elise’s work is empowering and visually arresting, solidified by her goal of creating necessary space in the industry. “I want to make playful art that centres marginalised communities, and to explore joy and escapism for us through futuristic fantasy,” she says. With a lack of diversity still prevalent in the gaming and entertainment industries in general, Elise is positively altering this through her work; “I’d love for a future body of work to contribute to a change in this mindset.”
Elise Rose: Fairy Core, Pxssy Palace (Copyright © Elise Rose, 2022)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.