Through the Print Project, Píccolo has had the opportunity to work with 4 talented illustrators. But, who are the people behind the images? We interviewed them in our series, Píccolo Portraits!
Piccolo: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Yelena Bryksenkova: I was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia and moved to the United States when I was eight years old. I studied illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the Academy of Applied and Decorative Arts in Prague, Czech Republic, receiving my BFA in 2010. Now I live in New Haven where I work as a full time freelance illustrator.
P: What was the inspiration behind your piece for the Píccolo Print Project?
YB: My little elephant is my imaginary friend and a reflection of my inner state; he symbolizes everything about the world I strive to create for myself and I consider him a harbinger of inspiration and happy coincidences that keep me moving forward. He’s the little thing I would be most afraid to lose.
P: What are your favorite techniques/mediums to use when you create your work?
YB: I work entirely be hand, using pencil, .005 Pigma Micron pens, a box of “Leningrad” watercolor cakes, very tiny brushes and and a little bit of Holbein Acryla gouache. I occasionally use Photoshop for some delicate digital assembly, but prefer not to rely on it too much because I like having finished original paintings.
P: Do you think the field of illustration is changing? And if so, how?
YB: There has been a shift in recent years toward a delicate, handmade aesthetic and so much of my favorite peers’ work is at once beautiful and emotionally powerful in a quiet and simple way. I’m aware of trends but I follow closely and try to learn from the work that I consider to be timeless. It seems like illustration is becoming more widely used, and I hope I’m right.
P: What are your favorite small things in life?
YB: A vintage satin elephant pin cushion that was a gift from my best friend, a beautifully round stone that I found in the Dead Sea, my “collection” of two found butterflies which I keep in a tiny bell jar on my desk and a whole slew of other treasures with which I like to surround myself.
P: What’s on the horizon for you - any exciting projects you’re working on?
YB: I’ve had the chance to work with a couple of dream editorial clients and I look forward to more pleasant surprises. While I like where freelancing is taking me, I am still thinking “what’s next?” and the answer is that I would like to either continue education or complete a residency in the near future. Or both! There’s a lot I want to accomplish in my life and most of it has to do with living in different places and finding new adventures to fuel my work.