Pink lines, some pale and others nearly fuschia, neatly laid out in rows on a bright white page are the epitome of artist Elisa Fox’s esthetic – modern and minimal. But the print signals more than creative graphic design; it’s a story – a story of loss.
In 2015, Fox and her husband, who live in Springfield, Ill., found out they were expecting their first child. Six weeks later, the pregnancy was gone. She had miscarried.
Elisa Fox with her husband, Adam Fox.
The experience sent Fox into a tailspin of loneliness and isolation; she didn’t know how to talk about something that, despite one in four women experiencing a miscarriage, made her feel so alone.
“I was really secluded and didn’t know how to deal with the emotions I was having. I didn’t know how to talk about it, and others didn’t know how to talk about it if they knew what was going on,” she said.
She eventually found her way to a support group for women who had experienced miscarriages, and a year-and-a-half after experiencing her own loss, she shared her story for the first time. The experience was therapeutic, and finding other women grappling with the loss of a baby made her feel understood.
The support group came along at the same time Fox had launched an online shop for her graphic design, a project that had originally started as a hobby for the full-time marketing professional. She began designing after her employer sent her to graphic design classes as part of their rebranding efforts.
Fox began designing prints focused on infertility and loss that not only represented her own loss – the pink lines signaling the beginning and passing of life and the only sign that the life began – but could provide encouragement and hope for other women who had experienced miscarriages. Fox explains, “The Mis-Conception print speaks to those with miscarriages; the Rainbow Baby print speaks to those who experienced a loss then the joy of another baby; the Worth the Wait print speaks to those who haven’t yet experienced a successful pregnancy or have welcomed a child after infertility.”
Fox’s work can be purchased on her online shop, The Visual Minimal, at www.thevisualminimal.com, which includes other affordable design series and greeting cards. Follow the shop on Instagram – @thevisualminimal, or contact Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worth the Wait print from The Visual Minimal. (Credit: The Visual Minimal)
How long have you been designing for your online shop, The Visual Minimal?
Elisa Fox: It was kind of born on accident. I started just making art for myself after I learned how to use design programs. Once I learned how to do all that fun stuff, that’s when I started doing it in the evening to decorate my house with stuff that I made. I decided that I wanted to share it with people and opened an online shop in January. Once people saw the prints and the infertility and loss series, that really resonated with people. You don’t see a lot of art about that topic in the industry right now. The response to that has been awesome.
What led you to create an infertility and loss series in your shop?
EF: I experienced a miscarriage in July 2015. The rest of that year, and a good part of 2016, were really hard for me. Toward the end of 2016, I found a support group at a local hospital. It took a lot of guts for me to go because I’m not that person. I shared my story when it was my turn and just saying the story from start to finish, that was really healing for me, and just to hear the stories (from) women who had been through the same thing was healing. Knowing you’re not alone can be really empowering.
During that time, that’s when I started getting into prints and decorating my own home, (and) I decided I wanted to make something for myself to memorialize what I have been through. I made the Mis-Conception print, a series of pink likes that fade in and out. I didn’t have any symptoms (during my pregnancy), I didn’t have a sonogram picture or anything. It was really hard for me to think, “Is this even real?,” but I had pregnancy tests. This is all I have, but this is enough.(The print) represents the pink lines in and out (on a pregnancy test). A lot of women, when they think they’re miscarrying, start taking pregnancy tests every day and the line keeps fading out. But (the line in the print) fades back in; I didn’t want it to be so dismal. I wanted it to go in a loop so there is a hope for the future where you’ll have two really strong lines that everyone wants.
What are your emotions when you’re designing something so personal?
EF: I think art, in and of itself, is healing because you lose yourself in it. The hardest thing is presenting this in a way that is encouraging and not just sad, because the story can be really sad. I’ve grown in the past two years; I know that sadness doesn’t follow you the rest of your life. That’s the hope I wanted to give to people who are in my same position through those prints. I hope that what I’m doing is encouraging.
Why is encouragement to women who have experienced miscarriages so valuable?
EF: The hardest part of that entire experience was the isolation that I felt because during that time everyone around me was getting pregnant and staying pregnant. I felt like I was the only one but I knew it wasn’t true. You go online and read one in four women experience it, but those statistics don’t seem real until you meet someone who can be the face to that statistic and (say,) “I’ve felt those same things you’re feeling.” I wanted to be that for other women. The encouragement I get from other women who say, “I went through the same thing but don’t have the courage to talk about it,” that’s what keeps me going.
Despite being common, why do you think women have difficulty talking about miscarriages?
EF: I think there’s been a huge stigma around women who miscarry that it was somehow their fault or something’s wrong with them. People just automatically assume if you had a miscarriage that you messed up, and if it’s not in your control, then your body messed up. I think that’s one of the big reasons I wanted to encourage women that you have a right to feel what you’re feeling – even if the majority of the United States tells you what you lost wasn’t really a child. Whether you believe that or not, it’s hard either way.
Your art has been shared by pro-life groups, including Stand For Life. Did you have any reservations about having your art connected to politics?
EF: I was personally really excited. Just them posting my story and seeing the comments of people who have been through the same thing was encouraging for me. It was one of those light bulb moments where I understood why God lets hard things happen. If I could go back two years ago, I would want my story to be different, but seeing how my story can be a light to someone is really encouraging. I feel that God is using this for something bigger. I am grateful for the platform they gave me to reach women in this same position.
Cover photo: Mis-Conception print by Elisa Fox. Credit: The Visual Minimal.
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