ELYSHA ROUSH: BARISTA BY DAY, ILLUSTRATOR BY NIGHT
Elysha Roush was a Cups fan long before she was a Cups employee.
Thanks to her personable demeanor and her round-the-clock need for a place to draw comics, Elysha quickly endeared herself to the Clinton staff. Factor in her love for coffee, and her decision to join the team in 2011 was a no-brainer.
“I like interacting with the people in coffee shops, and I just generally like coffee,” she says. “So I thought, ‘I can combine these two things, and make money!’”
These days, you can find her at Cups in The Quarter in Jackson, where she’s been slinging espresso and hiding drawings of koalas since September of 2012.
“When I worked at Clinton, I hid llamas. I don’t know how that got started,” she explains. “But one day at The Quarter, I had just read about koalas and how they need 22 hours of sleep and they’re grumpy all the time, so what better animal to be in a coffee shop?”
The koalas became so ubiquitous in the store that they have been immortalized in the form of a WiFi password (for those who had ever questioned it). But on occasion — this March, for example — Elysha has the opportunity to display some of her more polished pieces as the store’s featured artist.
Though “a large quantity” of her work is digital art, she’ll be displaying ink drawings somewhat inspired by the Zentangle movement — a form of art therapy that’s been adopted by stressed-out adults.
“It’s a bunch of intricate lines that takes hours to complete, and it forms a cohesive picture,” she says. “It’s very therapeutic to work with ink and paper. Just base-component, ‘this is what art is.’”
Given the therapeutic nature of her work, it comes as no surprise that Elysha is a Psychology major at Southern Miss. It’s more surprising, perhaps, to learn that she’s never taken an instructive art class in her life. Still, she’s done a good deal of commissioned work over the years, from friends who want to see themselves realized as cartoon characters to upstart companies in need of a new logo.
Much of her work is done in the digital realm, on a trusty iPad that some of The Quarter’s regulars will no doubt recognize.
“Digital illustration, I think, is more carefree,” she says. “It’s much more forgiving if you make a mistake. I’ve been working with ink before, and I’ve double-tapped the paper to undo a mistake, and then I realize, ‘oh wait, it doesn’t work like this in real life!’ The ink is there to stay.”
Elysha finds a similar fulfillment in the barista life, which she approaches with the same creative and competent flair.
“I really just like making people happy,” she says. “You give people coffee, they’re pretty happy. You draw pictures, and people enjoy looking at them… it makes my day a little bit brighter.”
Written by Alex Thiel
Cups in the Quarter