The Art Collection of “Viewers Like You”

Jennifer Elsner and David Shields have probably never spent more than $250 for a piece of art in their collection and yet they have quite a collection… with stories to tell. The couple have the design studio, Viewers Like You, and David is the Assistant Chair of Design at UT Austin and is also the primary researcher for the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection. The couple met and fell in love while getting their M.F.A. s from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

The couple’s collection has grown by getting pieces for free, trade, and gifts. The large print behind the sofa is by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Many of his installations invite the viewer to take a piece of the work with them which is how the couple ended up with this artists work. They picked a free poster from a stack of an unlimited edition and framed it. We should have all been so lucky to have been there for that freebie. Felix Gonzalez-Torres really believed in the democracy of art.

The two “Just Say No” posters above the console were acquired at a James Victore lecture when he was giving out free posters. They each took one then had them framed with one upside down. Brilliant!


Their Cranbrook friends Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand did a trade for a poster for the two stills of bubble blowing from the video Air Hunger. Jennifer and David later purchased pieces from Coffee And Milk. Just below the bubble blowing are the Indonesian wedding couple that David bought to bless their marriage and home when they were newlyweds. Sweet!!!

Jennifer and David designed and commissioned the presentation bar for the posters in the bedroom. The newest addition is the "Save Our Gulf” poster from a benefit from the San Jose Hotel in Austin. It is a signed, limited edition print and probably cost less than $200.


The couple have a few paintings by Tim Crowder. If you live in Austin you have probably seen his work at the kids/mens entrance to Nordstrom’s. David worked with him in Memphis. The large painting in the kitchen is one that Crowder’s gallery rejected so the couple was the lucky recipient.

With David’s passion for type and printing, it’s no surprise they have a Jim Sherraden, artist, printer and curator of the renowned Hatch Show Project. "Hatch" is a letterpress poster print shop in downtown Nashville that has been producing show posters for famous acts since 1879. This was a special gift for David from Jennifer.

They have many other wonderful pieces to hightlight --- prints from Denise Prince in the bathroom, a print from the Hamilton Wood Type Museum that is hung with a simple binder clip (below). One of my favorite is the curious almost Mona Lisa like expression of the woman’s portrait over the door from the living room to the kitchen. It is one of two portraits of Jennifer’s sister. It was the last piece that they hung after a major remodel of their home. I love how it is aligned with the left edge of the door frame next to the library shelves as though she is the oracle for the books.


It was a real pleasure to meet and visit with Jennifer about their collection. She recommends visiting exhibits, festivals, and shows to find pieces and buying more prints and posters than paintings to keep costs down and...gift art on special occasions to your loved ones. Thank you Jennifer and David and Chelsea Fullerton for many of the photographs.. There will be more from them in the future.