Thursday, September 25, 2008

re-post: the lovely yellena

Yellena James, "Vessel", print of drawing done with pens, ink and markers on paper, 6"x6" (print available on her etsy shop)

i've been gushing for quite some time about yellena james. she's a talented aritst and designer who lives on the oregon coast (currently... she misses the city, i can empathize). orignially from sarajevo, yellena has traveled the world honing her beautiful, dreamlike style of illustration and racked up a laundry list of fans. i've got pages and pages worth of praise for her art, but as I mentioned earlier, the heat has turned my brain into mush. for today i'll let the interview and the images speak for themselves. she's agreed to a show at fenario in october, so i'll have plenty more to say in the coming weeks. yellena sat down and answered some of my questions after a recent trip to hang a show at giant robot in san francisco.

CG: tell me a little about yourself, and how you got started making art.

YJ: i've done art as long as i can remember. i hear this from a lot of artists in interviews, but it's true. i always loved to draw and i have always been fascinated with pens and markers. my sister is also an artist and we used to make things together growing up. during the civil war in sarajevo, i enrolled in an art high school against my parents wishes. where i am from, as most places i'm sure, artists tend to starve. but we all at some point make the decision that doing what you love is most important.

CG: where do you draw your inspiration from? what gets your imagination running?

YJ: oh, this is always the hardest question for me because it is very hard to pinpoint inspiration. i think artists just have that in them. if you love what you're doing you are always inspired to do it no matter what. you get inspired by all things. many of my recent works were inspired by small elements or ideas found in my previous works which begged to be explored furthur. it's a nice feeling to finish a piece and step away with the direction in mind for a new piece.

CG: you have a very distinct, recognizable style of design and illustration. how has your aesthetic developed over time?

YJ: thanks for saying that. a lot of work and time have gone into creating and developing my style. i still feel like there is so much more room to grow. i've had a lot of traditional training, and many great teachers along the way. i had one teacher in sarajevo who made us do line drawings for months until we perfected them. i was so happy when we finally started doing some shading in our studies. i think i started doing my best work when i stopped trying to impress other artists, teachers, critics, etc. and started making art that i enjoy.

yellena james, "bliss" pen and ink on paper, 6"x7.5"

CG: do you doodle when you talk on the phone?

YJ: no, i usually pace around the room when i talk on the phone. when i'm drawing, i'm completely focused on what i'm doing. i almost always have music playing. i'm completely addicted to

CG: do you have a favorite medium?

YJ: pens and markers are still my favorite, although i do love paint. i have literally hundreds of pens in my studio and i am very particular about paper too.

CG: it seems that a lot of your pieces are on a small scale. what draws you to working on small pieces? do you ever work on a larger scale?

YJ: i work in a small scale because my work is so detailed and it takes me forever to finish little pieces. i also like the intimacy of smaller pieces. they invite viewers for a closer inspection, a second look.

CG: you recently moved to the oregon coast. as a native oregonian, i must say, you've picked a truly beautiful, scenic part of the world to call home. how has your change of scenery inspired you? do you have good tide-pooling near your home?

YJ: it's true, oregon is very beautiful. the tide-pooling is top-notch i'm sure. the coast is a great place to work in peace, though i'm definitely missing the city energy these days. we'll probably be living in portland by the end of the summer. there are a lot of creative people there and always something fresh going on. we live next to the ocean right now and i guess that has had some influence on my work. recently, my artwork has been described as resembling precambrian ocean life. i liked this, because during the precambrian era, the seas were just these big pools of potential, and life was just forming - seemingly at random but also by design. all these little elements were taking form and coming alive on their own. this is similar to how many of my art pieces come together. lots of little bits and lines, forming curves, then shapes... sort of randomly, but also by design.

CG: what fellow artists and designers do you admire? who do you have your eye on?

YJ: oh, let's see. i'm a big fan of julie mehretu and matthew ritchie... i also really like apak, sam weber, jeff soto, takashi murakami. there are so many more... i think now is a really exciting time in art. one thing about being close to portland, and also selling on etsy and the giant robot, is that i've been introduced to so many amazing DIY-minded artists. there are just a lot of people right now who are doing things on their own.

CG: what albums do you take with you when you go on a road trip?

YJ: for road trips, i like to bring compilations: interpol, black keys, beck, okkervil river, b.r.m.c., my morning jacket, muse, ours, the shins... that kind of stuff.

CG: if i loaned you my private jet where would you go?

YJ: i have been wanting to visit sarajevo and the adriatic coast lately. it would be nice to see my family there, and show my husband where i was born. then i would probably ask you to loan me your jet again for a trip to japan. then italy, then france, australia, ireland, brazil.... your jet will probably need an oil change when i'm done.

yellena james, "magic" print of drawing done in pen and ink, 8.5"x11" (prints available on her etsy shop)


tiger said...


Anonymous said...

Bali is another organization that ed hardy Hats are known for their functional yet ed hardy Caps beautiful bras. Founded by Sara ed hardy Hats Stein in 1927.The Wonderbra manufactured by buy ed hardy the Sara Lee Corporation, is a push-up bra that was a sensation during its time. It was a big Ed Hardy Sale success and drew enormous amounts of interest. It was designed to Ed Hardy Swimwear make the bust appear larger, thus enhancing a Ed Hardy Swimwear womans cleavage.Here are more resource articles on cheap plus ed hardy swimsuits size evening gowns and plus size clothing for women.

cheap electronics said...

Bali is another organization that ed hardy Hats are known for their functional yet ed hardy Caps beautiful bras. Founded by Sara ed hardy Hats Stein in 1927.The Wonderbra manufactured by buy ed hardy the Sara Lee Corporation, is a push-up bra that was a sensati

cheap cell phones said...

oh! wonderful! Thank you for sharing!