Artist Series

Meet the Artist: Esther Licata

Esther Licata currently works in Detroit as an illustrator and printmaker. She draws inspiration for her colorful, textural artwork from the landscape and wildlife of her home state: Michigan. Esther illustrates the intertwined stories of waterways, wildlife, and recreation in our beautiful Great Lakes state.

Peninsulas is proud to partner with Esther Licata to create “See the Great Lakes State”, the eighth piece in our Artist Series. Her design, inspired by her love for the beauty of nature, appears on a fine-art print and a magnet in the Peninsulas' Michigan State Parks Collection.

I spoke with Esther to learn about her art, inspirations, and hear her story:

Hi Esther! Tell us a little about yourself:
I am an illustrator and designer working in Michigan. I received my BFA in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies in May of 2016, and am now working on the Creative Arts team at Northridge church as a stage designer as well as doing freelance illustration. I live and work in a little house in Livonia with my husband Tyler, who is also an illustrator.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I was a creative child, and have known I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I appreciate the support and encouragement of my parents, who recognized my desire at an early age and never discouraged me from pursuing this path.

What do you enjoy most as an artist?
My favorite thing about being an artist is looking at art and talking about art with other artists. Art has the power to represent so many interesting things about being human that are impossible to represent any other way. I love being a part of that conversation, even in a small way.

What inspires you?
Many things inspire me - Nature, movies, my dreams, the spiritual world, beauty, and above all - good, open, and dynamic conversation about new or interesting ideas.

How do you go about creating an illustration?
The first thing I do when working on a new piece is create a few small idea drawings. These are normally very small and loose, but they help to get my ideas out. Then I select the idea that works best and move on to composition studies which allow me to decide how I will compose the color and value of a piece.

After I have a value composition selected, I move on to creating the elements that I need for the picture using traditional art media like ink and Gouache. With some illustrations, that means doing an entire painting in gouache or watercolor, and with others it means creating several different elements with ink on paper. Then I scan the elements digitally and compose and retouch the illustration in Photoshop to produce the final work.

Do you have a favorite place to work?
At home in a small studio I share with my husband Tyler, who is also an illustrator.

Do you prefer to stay up late or are you an early morning riser?
I’m a Night Owl.

My friend is visiting Michigan for the first time, where should they visit?
I definitely recommend they visit Pictured Rocks national lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula if they have a chance.

If you had to eat one thing everyday for a week (without getting a stomach ache) what would it be?

Is there anyone you are thankful for?
I am thankful for my husband - he is an endless source of inspiration for me and I am blessed to have him.

What is something you are looking forward to?
Some friends and I have rented a cabin for a weekend in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio this winter. I look forward to spending a couple of days in the woods with them.

What is your favorite Michigan state park? 
Although there are more beautiful parks that I love in other places in Michigan, Island Lake State Park has to be my favorite. It's close to my home in southeast Michigan and has nature that feels welcoming and accessible to everyone. I go there to bike, hike, kayak, swim, and ice skate with my friends and we always have a wonderful time.

You created a lovely design for Peninsulas Artist Series and the Michigan State Parks. What does it mean to you?
The illustration is based on many experiences I have had hiking and kayaking in Michigan. I wanted to communicate how fascinating and beautiful nature can be. No matter how close you zoom in or how far you zoom out, there is something interesting to learn and something inspiring to see.

It is my hope that my art communicates the feeling of unity and peace that comes from spending time in nature, a reminder that the outdoors can be a welcoming place.



It was nice getting to know you, Esther! Thank you so much!

To see more of Esther Licata's illustrations and designs visit