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A Nostalgic Creative Journey with Yelena Bryksenkova

It feels great to hear from artists from all over the world and get to know what they are up to, what inspires them and how they work. It is like reading short stories from everyone’s creative lives. There is always something to relate to, get inspired and maybe even learn something from each of them.

This time I invite you to read a story of Yelena Bryksenkova and her engaging creative journey. Yelena was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and grew up in Cleveland, the United States. Now she works as a freelance illustrator and fine artist in New England. Her works feel so familiar to me with a beautiful reminiscent and nostalgic Eastern European style. She even uses my favourite watercolour brand ‘Leningrad’.

Yelena’s work is greatly inspired by the art and literature of Russia’s silver age and folklore. And I have to mention some of her other influences as that greatly illustrates her style. Amongst the artists that inspire her are the works of Valentin Serov, John Singer Sargent, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse. Now imagine all of that combined with some readings of Haruki Murakami. That is a great mix of influences! As I think of that I just want to go and get lost in my own creations… But before I do that I have to introduce you to the artist and her works.

What do we need to know about you?

I’m a freelance illustrator and fine artist living in the North-eastern United States.

What are your daily inspirations? What motivates you?

I go on long walks every day, paying attention to details in nature and architecture, even in places I have seen hundreds of times, all the while turning over in my head personal and creative questions. When I return to my desk I feel refreshed and ready to draw.

Describe your creative process. What is your favourite part of it?

My favourite part of the creative process is research. The most interesting projects have been books that are set in a different time and place, because I get to fully immerse myself in the details, collecting images of clothing, architecture, furniture. I usually create a secret Pinterest board for a new project and go wild until this previously unfamiliar world comes to life and brings new inspiration to my life. Once it’s “mine,” I begin sketches and when those are approved by the client, the final art is where I really get to show my love for everything I found during the research stage.

How does your work space look like? What do you like about it? What would you change?

My work space is a desk that takes up a corner of my room in a big, old house. I work on a very small scale so this is usually enough for me, and I like having my tools and special objects around me and within arm’s reach. However, I would like to have a studio outside of my home one day. I want to feel like I go to work every day, somewhere where I can’t see my bed, calling to me on a late night when I still have work to finish.

Describe your typical day.

I try to be up by about 8:30 am and start the day slowly with breakfast, checking email and watching YouTube videos (usually clothing hauls and makeup tutorials). Often errands – like going to the bank and post office – take up the bulk of the afternoon, and then I work on sketches. Some clients are several hours ahead of me and some are several hours behind, so there is always someone awake and expecting to hear from me. In the evening I like to take my walk, which usually lasts 1-2 hours (once I start walking, I never want to stop!) and then I come back and settle in for a late-ish night of final painting. Depending on deadlines, some days are more relaxed and some days I don’t even go outside because I’m working to catch up.

Your tips for fresh artists, designers and makers.

1.) Keep your eyes open; everywhere is interesting. 2.) Spend lots of time with friends and family; work feels better when it’s well-balanced with play. 3.) Always turn your work in on time, be open to suggestions and constructive criticism, and remember when you’re working with your Art Director to achieve the best possible result; maintaining a friendly, professional relationship with good communication is very rewarding.

More from Yelena Bryksenkova’s art can be found on many online platforms: her website, blog, Facebook page, Etsy shop, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. And this is where all the images used here are coming from. Go have a look and be inspired!

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