Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Yelena BryksenkovaSeptember 10, 2013
We're so happy to have brand new Red Cap artist, Yelena Bryksenkova, in the artist spotlight today! Yelena's illustrations are touching and elegant, while maintaining a whimsical, every day lightness (this one is the perfect example of that happy whimsy!). She is a great addition to our little family and we were delighted to get to know her a bit better and to share her interview with all of you. Enjoy!
Tell us about your upbringing–such an interesting juxtaposition between Russia and Ohio!
My mom and I left Saint Petersburg in 1996 when I was eight years old, and in recent years I have been returning to Russia for a few weeks at a time. I feel lucky to be familiar with and able to navigate seamlessly between two such different worlds. For me, very tangled, often sad, feelings are associated with emigration, but also great beauty. Some days it feels like a special secret that only I know, other times it can get lonely because I know I can't ever be truly able to explain how I feel, at least not in words. So I hope some glimmer of it comes through in my work.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Not at all. I drew pictures, but not much more than the average kid. It wasn't until the last two years of high school, when I took a commercial art class designed to prepare students for art school, that I even considered it. I took everyone–including myself–by surprise when I became serious about it and enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It was there that I discovered illustration as a career path and I haven't looked back since!
What is your imaginary pet elephant's name and what does he do all day while you are working?
His name is Vaclav and he's usually curled up sleeping under my chair. He's a very low-maintenance pet.
Books, films, music, memories, exhibitions, clothing, interesting color palettes, images I come across on the internet–absolutely everything. There's usually one thing that has me captivated at any given moment and I live under its spell until the next wave of inspiration. I try to keep my eyes open and carry a notebook for writing down half-formed ideas or themes to return to. My mind and my computer are visual catalogs where I file away all of the beautiful things I see, and they all appear in my work eventually, in one form or another.
My process stays uniform for every piece until I accidentally have a breakthrough and discover a new way of doing something. It's through these small changes that my style evolves.
If you could have any career (besides what you are doing now), what would you want to do?
I would be a flight attendant, probably on an International airline.
What is your favorite piece that you have ever done, and why?
I'm usually “over” every new thing I do within a day, but this painting, “Ghost,” feels special to me. It's not particularly interesting or skillful in style or color, but it felt so personal that I was afraid to share it on the internet! That seems crazy now, but I was so nervous, and for that reason it's very dear to me.
To view Yelena's collection for Red Cap Cards, click here.
All images courtesy Yelena Bryksenkova