Merging Art and Design
Rebecca Livermore is in demand.
Her work has been featured in dozens of prominent exhibitions, solo shows and official publications; two high-profile galleries exhibit her work; and on a recent commission she followed the Utah Symphony on its tour across Utah, painting the location of each performance.
A Creative Youth
Many rebellious teens drop out of school in favor of a “more creative lifestyle.” Born into a deeply creative family, Livermore reversed the stereotype: After spending her youth drawing, painting and sculpting, she decided to get a degree in — gasp — life sciences.
But the further she got into UC Berkeley’s science programs, the less confident she felt about being happy with a scientist’s life. Finally, she realized that while she loved studying science, she wasn’t going to enjoy any of her career options.
“So, I went through the entire course catalog, circling anything that sounded interesting to me,” she says. “When I finished, I realized I’d gravitated towards things like sculpture, painting, architecture, photography — all the creative things.”
She dove in, experimenting with classes in several creative disciplines until she found her passion — graphic design.
“Design just clicked for me,” she says. “At the time, in 1979, most people hadn’t even heard the term graphic design. But I had an aptitude for it, and a fantastic professor inspired me to go into this field I hadn’t really known existed before taking her class.”
That aptitude led her through UC Berkeley and on to a master’s degree at Rhode Island School of Design (consistently ranked one of the best design schools in the world). Then into two decades of success at the helm of her own design firm, working for esteemed publishers, universities, nonprofits, venture capitalists and other noteworthy clientele.
A Gradual Shift
But Livermore never forgot her childhood love for fine art. She took watercolor classes across the span of her design career until, eventually, she decided to become a full-time watercolor artist.
Though the mid-career transition to fine art begs for a dramatic story of conflict, repressed creativity and midlife crisis, the true catalyst was far simpler: She had a child.
“My husband was often out of town for work, and once we had our daughter, I found myself at 3 a.m. press checks rocking a baby in a car seat,” she says. “It just wasn’t working. Something had to give.”
Around the same time, she encountered another mentor — Willamarie Huelskamp — who demonstrated that it was indeed possible to sell paintings and make a living as an artist.
Betwixt the demands of a daughter, the example of an artist, and the enthusiastic support of her husband, Livermore gradually withdrew from design and began a new career as a fine artist.
A Successful Style
In the decades since, Livermore developed a unique, easily recognizable style. It has a tightness that recollects her days as a designer — the strong compositions often feature bright, bold colors and stylized landscapes under loose, delicate skies.
“I think the tightness distinguishes my work,” she explains. “The landforms are refined and designed and carefully composed. The skies are loose — but I always include some of the colors of the landscape in the sky to hold the painting together and achieve continuity.”
The style is working for her — her long list of purchased paintings is proof. And as her reputation continues to grow, Livermore remains impressively humble and grounded.
“I’m just elated that people like my work,” she says. “I’m thrilled that I've created paintings that people want to buy and enjoy for many years.”