Location: United States
Known by many as the “Elvis Artist”, Betty Harper has spent the majority of her career creating artwork for the Tennessee Music scene. Though you might not know her, either by her name or nickname, you’ve likely seen her work. As the artist of Elvis Presley Enterprises, she is responsible for a good deal of the art you see on Elvis mugs, postcards and other memorabilia. Her original artwork graces many private collections throughout the world.
Her influence can also be felt throughout the Elvis community. Elvis Week, which has become a central festival of Memphis, seeks to honor and remember the life of Elvis Presley. At the one year anniversary of his death, Betty created the art for a billboard near Graceland, called “The American Trilogy”, which acted as a memorial to the musician and became a focal point of all the mourners who arrived to pay their respects. For an entire year, the billboard attracted people to stop and remember the life and work of Elvis. In the years after that, this gathering became more organized and was dubbed Elvis Week. Betty has attended the festival nearly every year since its creation and still enjoys participating in the events and celebration.
Her work reaches beyond Elvis. Having worked for many years with RCA, she is responsible for the cover art of numerous musical artists. She has illustrated many books and also has a rich history of personal and commissioned pieces depicting entertainers such as Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers, Loretta Lynn and Jim Reeves to name a few. Her interest extends to street performers and western art.
A self-confessed lover of faces, much of her pencil drawings and paintings focus on the expressions and emotions that a person’s face can show. According to her, “every face has a story to tell”, and she works to tell these stories faithfully in all of her work. It is perhaps most obvious in her Elvis art which she has been producing more than fifty years.
The daughter of a military man, her close connection to Elvis began while living in America, but continued to develop even after her father was stationed in France. Away from the friends and culture of her childhood, art became her refuge, a place where she could reconnect with the people and interests that she’d left behind. As Elvis rose to popularity, Betty was intrigued by his musical ability, charisma, and captivating appearance. He quickly become the subject of her art. Even after returning to America, her fascination with Elvis remained constant and throughout her career she has created over 10,000 images of him.
In 2012 she created a traveling art show that opened at the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis. After a three month engagement in Tupelo, MS at Elvis’s Birthplace it is presently displayed at the Musician’s Hall of Fame in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium where it has been for the past two and a half years. She is
presently working on a project for The Cash Museum.
Official artist for Elvis Presley Enterprises / ABC
. JADEI GRAPHICS
• Poster design, 2008, Tupelo Elvis Festival
• Poster design, 2007, Tupelo Elvis Festival
Official artist for Muhammad Ali
• Designs for the Elvis Presley Clothing Company, 2005
• 100th Anniversary celebration of the Tulsa State Fair, Tulsa, OK, September 2003
• 38th Annual Central South Art Exhibit, Leu Gallery, Nashville, TN “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,: Frances Miller Memorial Award, 2003
• Logo design & drawing for Graceland “Internationally Tribute Week,” 1982-86
• A composite of 52 personalities for RCA
• A commissioned portrait of Elvis for Felton Jarvis, Elvis’ record producer 1977
• A limited edition series, “Faces of America,” eight individual drawings of working class people.
• Twelve pencil drawing of “Old Timers” commissioned by Jack Daniels, Lynchburg, Tennessee
• “American Trilogy” billboard for the City of Memphis, erected on the first anniversary of Elvis’ death. Depicts Elvis in three stages of his career.
Limited Edition Prints
• American Glory: Elvis
• Elvis In Concert
• Sinatra At The Sands
• The Entertainer: Elvis
• The Dean: Dean Martin
• Elvis, The Man
• King of the Cowboys: Roy Rogers
• American Trilogy
• Faces of America
By Bill Burk:
Candle In The Wind
The Humes Years
The Sun Years
The Tupelo Years
Elvis Through My Eyes
Soldier Boy Elvis
New Logo Design Layout for Elvis World Magazine
Presleyana IV, by Jerry Osborne
Dispelling The Myths, by Todd Rheingold
Guardian of Deceit, by William H. Coles
The Surgeon’s Wife, by William H. Coles
The Spirit of Want, by William H. Coles
Newly Discovered Drawings of Elvis by Betty Harper (Bantam Books) 1979
The Magic of Elvis, Through the Art of Betty Harper (Marketing Alliance) 1985
Suddenly and Gently, Vision’s of Elvis (St. Martins’ Press) 1987
Enid and the Dangerous Discovery
Enid and the Homecoming
Enid and the Great Idea
Enid and the Church Fire
How Do I Become A Christian?
Legendary Tales of the Ol’ South
The Elvis Fans Cookbook, Holiday Edition, (Fundraiser for the Elvis Presley
Trauma Center, Memphis, TN)
Great Yarmouth, England 2014
Heartbreak Hotel, Memphis, TN
Musician’s Hall of Fame & Museum, Nashville, August 2013 -Present
Elvis Birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi October 2012 – January 2013
Center for Southern Folklore, Memphis, TN August – October 2012
Inspirational Gallery, Memphis, TN 2012
One Sun Art Gallery, New Orleans, 2011
Rock Art Show (On line and traveling-2009-)
New Theatre Restaurant, KS, July – August 2008
Royal Gallery, New Orleans, LA 2007-
Customs House Museum, Art Exhibition, Clarksville, TN 2006
7th Annual Renaissance Regional Art Exhibit, TN, 2005
Tulsa State Fair, Tulsa, OK, 2003
American Pop Culture Gallery, Georgetown,
California State Fair, 1997
Local Color Gallery, Nashville, TN
Memphis Music & Heritage Festival
Gestine’s Gallery, Memphis, TN
1st Tennessee Bank, Memphis, TN
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