A little Monday morning inspiration, from illustrator Emily McDowell (prints starting at just $16).
Yelena Bryksenkova first caught my eye over on Design*Sponge, and when I clicked over to her portfolio, I was instantly in love. Her whimsical, saturated style is right up my alley, and the detail that goes into each illustration is impressive! You will definitely want to check out her website, and her blog.
What’s a typical day in the life of Yelena?
I wake up around 9 am and spend most of the day hanging out and working on projects at the kitchen table with my roommates, who are also illustrators. If I really need to focus, I shut myself in my room for a few hours, coming out occasionally to fetch another cup of tea. Some days, we go to zumba class or just for walks for important head-clearing and endless unburdening of feelings, dreams, and material wish lists. In the afternoon I run errands, like going to the post office or grocery store. Toward evening is when I begin most final pieces and then I work well into the night to complete them.
How did you develop your style? Was it a conscious decision, or something that came about organically?
I started suddenly to work in a certain style during the last two years of high school, after having read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, oddly enough. In college I refined it more and more with every new challenge and what you see now is a tidier and far less cheesy version of what I originally came out with all those years ago.
When did you first become interested in illustration?
I fell into illustration quite by chance. Since I was a small kid I always wanted to do art although I didn’t know what “doing art for a job” actually meant. After school I went to university for Art and Art History only to discover that the art portion wasn’t very critical and it wasn’t pushing me enough (I could be quite lazy back then). A good friend was in Sheridan’s illustration program (Oakville, ON.) and I was amazed by the use of experimentation in media and concept while balancing it all out with a foundation of life drawing and classic art skills. Once I got into the program I was drawn to the fact that illustration communicated with a larger world audience and tackled modern day issues. The combination of art and commentary really appealed to me.
When did you decide to make it your career?
When I graduated, it really seemed like the only choice. It was hard going at first, I waitressed for a while while trying to get my work out there and also working on my ‘style’. When I graduated I didn’t yet have a portfolio I was really proud of. Living in Toronto, I was lucky to be surrounded by a group of peers from school who were also trying to take a stab at freelancing, so we ended up challenging and encouraging each other. I don’t think I could have stuck through the tougher early years if it wasn’t for them. Running your own business takes time to get your name out there; just knowing that people have a similar excitement about art, collaborating on shows together and having the knowledge that you’re not the only one who’s having a bit of a struggle, really helps.
Who would you say has provided the biggest source of inspiration in your life? Why & how do they inspire you?
I think the biggest inspiration in my life has been my parents and the childhood they gave to me. I grew up in different parts of the world (Africa, England, the Middle East and Canada) and I think the world around me was constantly exciting and changing. I think it trained me to look closer at things around me and appreciate. I often wonder if it’s why my work is filled with pattern and colour. Whenever I try to simplify it just creeps back in there! To this day travel is not only a welcome relief from my regular routine but it always refreshes my need to make art.
Also, if I was to pick someone, I would say my Grandma Irene. She has an outgoing fearless personality I’ve always envied. She’s also is a constant learner. She learned to swim when she was 65 just so she could join us in the pool in the Middle East. A few months away from 90 yrs old she still goes dancing 4 times a week and swims on the off days, How can that not be inspiring? I could barely do that at my age!
Inspiring me this week:
1. Wayne Pate illustration via Oh Hello Friend
2. A Peace Treaty scarf via The Aviary
3. Summer Succotash on The Crepes of Wrath
4. Beautiful kitchen via Creature Comforts
5. from Anthropologie via Bri Emery
Weekend Event Picks for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill: Hopscotch Music Festival!! // it’s First Friday in Raleigh, and check out the artisian market at Kindred // Tonight at 6pm, The Red Clay Ramblers for free at American Tobacco // Bull Durham Blues Fest Friday & Saturday // Tobacco Harvest and Hornworm Festival on Saturday // Carrboro Reggae Festival on Saturday // Pig Pickin’ in the Park to benefit Liberty Arts // Retrofantasma Classics at The Carolina Theater // art/design/handmade market: SHOPscotch at Rebus Works on Saturday // posters, t-shirts, books, and more for POSTERscotch at Amplified Art // NC Symphony for free on Sunday // Paperhand Puppet show City of Frogs (multiple shows all weekend) // NC Dance Festival