Interview with… Ellievsbear

When I think about illustrators whose work is so otherworldly and dreamlike that I would like to live inside their illustrations, the one that immediately comes to mind is Ellievsbear. I really wanted to learn more about her art process and inspiration. My palms were sweaty when I sent an email asking if she would consider being interviewed… Thankfully, she was so kind that she answered all of my questions!

Who is Ellievsbear?

Ellievsbear is a visual artist with distinctive illustrations set in an universe she created. She uses both digital and traditional mediums. I’ll now let her and her work speak:

Check out more of Ellievsbear’s work on her website, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon.
1.      Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m a self-taught illustrator living in Brussels, Belgium. I work predominantly as an independent artist and enjoy creating cute and whimsical illustrations with a focus on world building and storytelling.

2.      How did you develop your unique style?

It isn’t a conscious process, I just keep drawing the things I enjoy and the illustrations I’d like to see. I don’t consider style as a thing that is set in stone but rather a reflection of the artist’s journey at a moment in time. Every person keeps learning from their daily life experiences, discovering new interests and going through powerful emotions, and alongside this journey their art style evolves in a similar manner.

3.      What inspires you?

Stories in any form; such as movies and animation, but most of all I’m inspired by books.

Colours are also a big source of inspiration for my art, oftentimes I will see a picture of a landscape with amazing colours and will want to use these to create an image of my own.

4.      Is there a specific way you search for inspiration or do ideas just come to you naturally/out of nowhere?

Bits of both, sometimes images come to me easily and seemingly out of nowhere but they cook for a long while in my mind before I put them on paper. Other times I have to sketch for an hour or so before finding concepts I’d like to explore. Inspiration can be found everywhere but you have to be constantly looking for it, the same way a photographer trains their eye to look at things differently.

5.      Do you have a degree in art and do you think it’s important to have a formal education when it comes to art and illustration?

I didn’t study art and started my career in a completely different field. What I think matters is to be curious and constantly educating ourselves. But this doesn’t necessarily requires to study art in college, especially nowadays when it’s so easy to learn online and find ressources about any subject very easily.

6.      Could you share a most touching or amazing moment in your career by now?

It’s more of a personal moment, but every time I see my 7yrs old nephew we create an illustration together. It has become a ritual of sorts, and he recently said how thankful he was that it made him enjoy drawing so much.

7.      If you had to choose just one would you choose digital or traditional painting?

Digital. Because it’s so versatile and doesn’t require a lot of (sometimes expensive) art supplies.

8.       Do you think it’s harder to work with traditional or digital tools/mediums?

Both have their own difficulties, all in all it comes down to what you’re most used to. Someone with more experience in digital painting may find it easier than traditional or the opposite for traditional artists.

9.      Which programs and tools are you using for creating your illustrations?

For digital art I paint with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop, for traditional art I enjoy pencils and watercolor the most.

11.  Are there any art materials you can’t work without?

Paper! Even though I mostly work digitally, all of my illustrations always start as a sketch or thumbnail on paper.

13.  Advice you would give to the young artists?

Enjoy the process, work on your fundamentals, don’t worry about style. And most importantly, make time for personal projects!

16.  Have you noticed that your style has changed over time and how?

Yes, it changes constantly. The themes I like exploring have stayed constant for the most part but technique wise I enjoy testing different things. Sometimes changes are subtle and I’m the only one seeing them, but hopefully it also changes because my skills are getting better.

17.  What do you think is essential for getting better at drawing/painting/illustrating?

Practice and patience.

18.  What’s your favorite artwork of yours?

I don’t have favourites, I enjoy the process more than the finished product. When I look back at past drawings I keep a very analytical eye and all I see is what could be improved in the next one.

19.  Could you describe your art process?

I always start by thumbnailing rough ideas in a tiny sketchbook. Sometimes I can see the colours of it right away in my mind, sometimes I have to try different things before it clicks. When I need to do colour studies, I import the thumbnail into photoshop and keep it very small while I test colours. The thumbnail stage is very important and can be difficult because it is what I call the « thinking » stage. This is where I make all the decisions, about composition and colour palette, it needs to work in a small size or it probably won’t work on a larger canvas. Once all these decisions are made, the process becomes much easier and relaxing, I can tune out and paint and render without having to think at all.

22.  What do you do if you don’t feel motivated?

I remind myself of all the things I want to create and the limited time there is in one life.

23.  Do you sometimes feel pressure to post new stuff on Instagram and your other social accounts?

In a certain capacity, yes, because my living depends on it. However I do not see it as a burden but an opportunity, and when reframed in that light it is not as stressful as others make it seem. I only post content I’m happy with, and I don’t hesitate to take a step back when I need to relax. I only use social media for my art business so I don’t consider the way I use it to be invasive. Most of the times I don’t even check social media if I don’t have anything new to share, in a way this allows me to stay focused on my own projects at my own pace without being too distracted. 

24.   If you weren’t an illustrator what would you be?

I’m not sure, there are a lot of jobs that could be fun! I haven’t always been an artist, and becoming an illustrator has been a really good fit for me at this stage of my life.

25.   Is there something you don’t know how to do that you would like to learn?

So many! I constantly start learning new things then get somewhat discouraged by the time required to master anything new. I’d love to take more time to learn how to animate my illustrations, or to create little video games set in my universe. Little by little, I’ll get there!

26.  What would be your ideal dream project?

I’d like to be part of a team project where everyone is passionate and driven about it, so anything that would allow me to contribute and meet other artists really.

27.   What do you think is more important for success: talent or hard work?

Definitely hard work. I don’t really believe in the notion of talent. I think passionate people are less likely to give up when facing difficulties and that’s what sets them apart, behind any skilled individual are hours and hours of practice and hard work and a great deal of determination.

I’m sure that by now you fell in love with Ellievsbear’s illustrations (if you haven’t already been, that is). You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter, check her website and store for more content or be her patron on Patreon. If you’d like to know more about Ellievsbear, here’s another interview with her on ballpitmag.

If you’re searching for more inspiration, be sure to read my interviews with illustrators Karl James Mountford and Sibylline Meynet. Whom would you like me to interview next?


Interview with… Sibylline Meynet

When I made the list of artists on Instagram which I would like to connect with, Sibylline was one of the first that came to mind. If you’re not familiar with her work, I’m sure you’ll understand why soon enough. Her artworks are both dreamlike and powerful, but I’ll let her and them speak for themselves.

Who is Sibylline Meynet?

Sibylline is French artist with a very unique otherworldly style. She does both traditional and digital illustrations. You can find more of her work on her Instagram, website and Patreon. And you can even watch her timelapse painting videos on Youtube.

Do you have a degree in art and do you think it’s important to have a formal education when it comes to art and illustration?

I graduated high school and started as a freelance illustrator right away when I was 19. I never liked school and the thought of going back to school (even to study art) made me so sad. My parents are very open, and let me do whatever I wanted once I got my diploma. I was very motivated, and it was my dream to become an illustrator. Drawing has always been my passion since I was little, so I would say, in my case, that studies were not necessary. I thought I’d learn what I needed to learn by myself.
But I know some people need to go to school and learn from professionals – which is a wise decision. Freelance is hard, and when you are an 18 years old freelancer who just started out, it’s not that easy. I think schools are great if you want to learn different techniques, or technical stuff in general (I am thinking of perspective, backgrounds, how to use and understand colors, shapes and light, how to create good composition…). Those technical things that are hard to learn by yourself.
I am not sure art school are the best to stimulate creativity in general though. To me, being able to create whatever I wanted was primordial. But everyone has a different experience when it comes to school. I guess it depends on what you need and your personality!
To answer your question, it is important to have a formal education in art and illustration if you feel like you can learn and improve with professionals. I wouldn’t recommend to force yourself to study art if you don’t want to, or if you’re confident you’ll be more comfortable learning on your own.

Could you share a most touching or amazing moment in your career by now?

I am so lucky and grateful to have lived many incredible moments since I started working as an illustrator. But I am going to share two moments that happened this year and I will always cherish !
These two events are connected actually – Gallery Nucleus asked me to be part of an exhibition with two amazing artists I love – I immediately said yes, and decided to put together an artbook to launch it at the gallery in Los Angeles. My sister and I spent so many hours working on it. It was funny to take my old works back out to put them in this book! I ordered the books online, had trouble with the shipping company, waited weeks to receive them in time for an art show in Los Angeles – it was so stressful. So when they finally came (1 day before I left for L.A.), it was such a relief! It was well printed, we were so happy.
Then I went to Los Angeles and had such a great time at the gallery. The people I met, the things I saw, the places I have been – it’s my biggest highlight of 2019! I learnt so much during this trip.

If you had to choose just one would you choose digital or traditional painting?

I think I love traditional art better – but I can’t say digital isn’t part of my daily life. I would probably say traditional though, because I am too attached to paints and markers, and the feeling of drawing on paper!

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

It’s not an advice, but it’s something I keep remembering when I am feeling down about my art. My mom used to say “nothing is useless”. So whenever I can’t draw, when nothing good comes out of what I am drawing and think I am wasting my time, I remember what my mom said. Then I know what I do isn’t a waste of time and will help me in the future.

Who are your biggest influences?

I would say Gustav Klimt and Marc Davis !

Have you noticed that your style has changed over time and how?

Yes ! When I look at my works from last year, or even from 6 months ago, I think ‘ok this led me to where I am today’. My old works have the same essence and energy than my current works. Almost the same shape too, but not quite. It’s a weird feeling to think nothing is written in stone, and as long as we keep doing what we do, it will always change (hopefully in a good way!).
Style change because our life keep changing, too. Because we travel, we meet new people, we see new art, we try new things, we grow as human beings and it shows in our art.
Sometimes it makes me laugh when I see old works because, let’s face it, it’s not very good. But sometimes I see what I wanted to say and it touches my heart! It’s like seeing pictures of yourself when you were a child, and you know you did your best that day.

What do you do if you don’t feel motivated?

I go out ! I like to take walks, watch a movie, go to a café, talk to my friends, doodle… without the thought or pressure to create a masterpiece. Just simple things!
Remember why you draw: because it is your biggest passion and it makes you happy. Don’t ruin it, don’t feel forced to create the perfect illustration. Just have fun and most importantly, do it for yourself!

If you weren’t an illustrator what would you be?

I am pretty sure I would be a photographer ! I love taking pictures, all the time. The idea of creating memories makes me so happy!

Is there something you don’t know how to do that you would like to learn?

So many things ! I would love to know how to draw a decent background. Even a simple one! I have to take some time to focus on drawing scenery, backgrounds and create a special atmosphere in my illustrations.

What would be your ideal dream project?

I have always worked with my sister. We do everything together, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without her! We have 100 projects together, and one of them would be to make our own animated cartoon. That would be awesome!

While we’re looking forward for Sibylline’s future projects you can find more of her work on her Instagram, website and Patreon. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and watch her timelapse painting videos on Youtube!


Interview with… Karl James Mountford

The biggest reason I made this blog was to write posts which I would’ve liked to read. And what I would like to read most are interviews with the contemporary artists that inspire me and that could inspire you. Thinking about it, that wouldn’t be such an impossible idea to carry out. But still, I was incredibly nervous and sweaty palmed when I contacted one of my favorite illustrators whose work I’ve been following for a long time, Karl James Mountford. But he was so kind that he answered all of my 20 questions!

Who is Karl James Mountford?

Google would say that Karl James Mountford was born in Germany and graduated in 2013 at Swansea Met Uni with a Masters degree in Illustration and Visual communication. He works in both traditional and digital mediums and I am incredibly honored to be able to share his answers and artworks here. So I’ll let him and his artworks do the talking.

1.       How did you develop your unique style?

I don’t know… being influenced by artists and a need to create… maybe?  But I think we might put too much emphasis on style, it just sort of happens and it changes, it has to, otherwise your work becomes stagnant.

2.       What inspires you? 

It changes. When I was in uni it was other artists and I remember thinking “I wanna draw like this person or create like this person one day” but now it’s changed. I can admire other artists work, but what inspires me, especially in my own work, is what I feel or don’t understand or how colours fall at certain times of day and music too, music creates a lot imagery.

3.       Is there a specific way you search for inspiration or do ideas just come to you naturally/out of nowhere?

With my own work it’s often my own thoughts and it just naturally happens and then I entertain the idea and it becomes something… most of the time.

4.       Can you explain how you create the characters such as the ones in “The Art of ruining conversation at dinner parties”? (I love that one sooo much!) Or the one you called “Peachy Parade”?

Usually it’s doodling in the sketch book and then it turns into something and then I try painting it or planning a screen print. It’s like reading a good book: you start on the first page and then before you know it, you are on chapter 29…

Peachy Parade
5.       Could you share a most touching or amazing moment in your career by now?

I’m not sure, I’ve had nice things happen. A 12 year old emailed my agent and had made some illustrations based on my drawings that was really cool. It was the first time I thought “Woah my colouring – it did something for someone else”. That was impressive to me.

6.       If you had to choose just one would you choose digital or traditional painting?

 They are both great… but… traditional for me. 

7.       Do you think it’s harder to work with traditional or digital tools/mediums?

Tradition. There’s a patience you have to just give in to. Digital is quicker and safer (in case you make a mistake) which means you don’t over, over think.

8.       If there weren’t digital tools, which technique would you work with? (acrylic, oils, watercolor etc.)

Acrylic is what I used throughout uni. I didn’t go near a computer if it could be helped. It was only really after uni that I taught myself digital art.

9.     Are there any art materials you can’t work without? 

Pencil and paper. I know it’s boring but if you’ve got those too, there is no stopping you.

10.   Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

…I’m not sure… I think there’s a heap of good advice from other artists. I seem to be someone who makes a mistake and hopefully learns from it. I think with social media you can be more savvy with how the industry works.

BUT THE UNIVERSAL BEST ADVICE – “DON’T EVER WORK FOR FREE”. It’s just a slap in the face to the artist, not even if it’s a massive well known company/client… you don’t work for free. If they value your work, they can pay you for it. 

11.   Advice you would give to the young artists?

Enjoy it. Make art you want to make so you get work you want and keep at it.

Follow Karl on Twitter.
12.   Who are your biggest influences?

Shaun Tan is my ultimate influence. There are so many it would a long list.

13.   Name three artists (or more) you’d like to be compared to.

Erm… none. Being compared to other artists isn’t great for you, taken me a while to figure that one out. It gets you their work and your not being fully realised for what you do. I learnt this when I was asked to draw like Julie Sarda for a possible job and I was skint and needed to pay rent so I said yes and then I got the work, but I felt odd trying mimic her work. And something in my gut felt a bit off about the whole thing.

14.   Have you noticed that your style has changed over time and how?

You never really notice it change until you look back. For me it’s small things that I change or become tired of that change, like textures used or shape and form.

15.   What do you think is essential for getting better at drawing/painting/illustrating?

LIFE DRAWING CLASSES! If you can understand all the principles of drawing from life… your interpretation becomes tenfold more lucrative.

Check out Karl’s Instagram for more incredible artworks.
16.   What’s your favorite artwork of yours?

I just made a piece for a gallery show about nature and it was the first time in ages that I just loved making something. No one telling me to change this or redo that. 

17.   How much time do you need to finish an artwork?

Honestly depends on the artwork at hand, sometimes days sometimes months.

18.   How do you know when an artwork is finished? 

It’s a gut feeling thing… I’m never fully sure. It’s purely gut feeling.

19.   What do you do if you don’t feel motivated?

 I don’t do anything, I leave it and try not to draw. It does nothing for me to force artwork for the sake of feeling like I’m doing something. Sometimes just having artist block is needed… It’s a break.

20.   Do you have some interesting projects coming up which you would like to share?

I’m working on a board game with a company in Italy, which is great as I’m usually a book cover boy so it’s great to mix things up.

While we’re waiting for Karl’s board game and future projects, you can read other interviews with him at BoxBird, Saahub & Redbubble. You can more of his work on Instagram, Twitter, his website & buy prints on Society6 and Redbubble.