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:
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.