1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hello! I am Elana Gabrielle. I grew up in San Francisco, started college in Southern California, studied in India, and transferred to the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon where I currently live and work. I had an arts based education up through high school and learned many different art forms including metal smithing, weaving, basketry, and bookbinding. Although I have loved art since I was a child, it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that I wanted to pursue art as a career.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I would say that my aesthetic is playful and whimsical. I have always been inspired by fairytales and the places I have lived and traveled to. I love to play with shapes and scale, and include hidden surprises within my work. My art and aesthetic is definitely influenced by the landscapes that I grew up in– the mountains, desert, and coast, and all the creatures that live there.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I don’t know if I can pick just one! I use certain mediums for different reasons– I enjoy the hands-on process of screen printing and the colors and textures that I can achieve in layering ink on fabric and textiles. I enjoy gouache and cut paper for playful compositions, and I love the versatility and speed of Photoshop.
4. What is your artistic process like?
For editorial and conceptual work I always begin with writing. I carry a notebook everywhere I go and I fill it with notes, thoughts, and a lot of research. I find that through research certain words will inspire ideas, and from there I will begin sketching. I develop my color palettes digitally because Photoshop lends me the most flexibility and I can shift shapes, compositions and colors around to my liking. I often add in handmade textures so that even if I am working digitally I can create a more handmade feel.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
My work is hugely inspired by the wilderness. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, and I find it endlessly fascinating. Whether I am in the woods, by the coast, or walking around the city, I am always inspired by the wildlife around me. All of the plants are starting to bloom in my neighborhood right now and I am so excited! I am inspired by all of the places I visit, and the people I meet. I also come from a family of artists– dancers, musicians, painters, quilters, and sculptors, and they are very influential to me as well.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
I don’t know if they have much of a separation for me. I think that art has always been a part of my life, and it has so many functions and definitions that I can’t possibly think of my first encounter with it. I definitely started drawing before I could write at all– I use to make observational drawings of my backyard, and loved to make treasure maps of my neighborhood. I think that I view the world through art. When I look at buildings, walk into stores, or when eating or cooking food I am constantly looking at color, pattern, texture, shape, etc. In high school I also discovered that I learn academically through an artistic process. Filtering information through an artistic lens is really helpful for me to retain and understand information. It is just part of my life, and I couldn’t separate them if I tried!
7. Where did you study?
I am in my last semester studying illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art!
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
In five years I would like to be running my own illustration business. I am currently developing a collection of goods that I would like to continue to create once I graduate! Although I don’t see myself working at an agency, I love collaboration and working with other people so I am definitely not opposed to the idea!
9. What about in ten?
Hopefully I will be able to continue to support myself doing what I love! I’d like to have a little home not too far from the coast and not too far from the woods where I can explore and continue creating.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want to use illustration as a vessel for learning and education. I am exploring ways that I can use illustration to bring awareness to different cultural and environmental issues, and I want to create art that reminds people of the playful imagination of childhood.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Noodles and dumplings!
12. Favourite book?
I read a ton of books growing up and I have a lot of favorite novels, but my most favorite books are my collection of children’s books and vintage botany books, especially the Golden Guide nature series. Some of my favorite kid’s book illustrators are Carson Ellis and Joohee Yoon, and I love all of the books published through Flying Eye Books.
13. Favourite genre of music?
This is always a tough question to answer for me. I listen to so many different kinds of music, and it depends on my mood and what I am doing. For research and working on projects I like to listen to folk, jazz, or something ambient. Some artists on my current playlist include Elliott Smith, Fleet Foxes, Billie Holiday, Beach House, The American Analog Set….
14. What are your hobbies?
Rain walks, sunbathing, beekeeping, crafting, potlucks, storytelling, picnics, treasure hunting (finding goodies at flea markets) and sipping tea on my porch.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I think I would be a kindergarten teacher and have a little farm with lots and lots of animals…or I would like to be an art director as I love working collaboratively and problem solving projects. But no matter what my job description is I will still be making art!