Detail from The Overgrown Garden
First of all, how do you know each other?
We went to school together at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where we had many illustration classes together and quickly became the best of friends. We shared a studio side by side in our senior year, and although we live apart now, we find ways to share our ideas and creative opinions about each others work.
What are some things you two have in common... or don't have in common?
Both of us love drawing outdoor scenery and pattern, but I think our styles differ enough that our points of view are individual. We both adore all thing precious and cozy, and like to watch vapid tv shows. We worship Edward Gorey and both read Murakami. We have so much in common, the list could go on and on. As for differences, the're very complimentary. Yelena is more of a tea person, and I prefer coffee. I wear black leggings and Yelena wears colored tights. Things like that.
What are you listening to these days?
I've been playing Morrissey's "Bona Drag" non-stop, but I've also been listening to a lot of Broadcast, the Books, Andrew Bird and Jens Lekman. I'll only listen to music I find appropriate for the weather and the season, so now I'm deep into my fall mixes. I've also recently discovered the Freakonomics podcast, which I love.
Yelena Bryksenkova's Kindling
Tell us about the work in this show.
It's based on the Japanese concept, "wabi-sabi" which describes beauty and wisdom in simplicity and things that are imperfect. This quote explains it well-" If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi". We decided to make complimentary scenes and apply the concept to illustrations of quiet country life. I went with outdoor scenes, and Yelena with indoor, and we stuck to a muted, natural palette.
You both create artwork that, in my mind, has strong folk art influences - would you agree?
Absolutely. We have different influences and styles, but both appreciate the beauty and honesty of folk art. I think our illustrations can be thought of as two different cities in the same country.
Tell us a bit about your studio space and work habits.
I work in my studio apartment, at a wooden desk facing three large windows. My supplies are kept pretty organized and at arm's reach. I start working sometime in the morning and I usually play tv shows, podcasts or movies in the background, to break the silence. Coffee and tea breaks are frequent. Post-it notes are everywhere, but I never seem to cross everything off the list. I'm not happy if I'm not busy.
Can you name a few artist crushes?
Maxwell Loren Holyoke Hirsch, Jon Klassen, Betsy Dadd, Danna Ray, Rob Hodgson, Liam Stevens and Lilli Carre to name a few.
As illustrators do you make any distinction between illustration and fine art in your own practices?
No. I treat it the same. My goal is to create "stand alone" pieces that can work in a book or in a gallery. To me, illustration is just fine art that makes its way to the masses.
Describe a perfect weekend.
Painting with a good cup a coffee and an excellent movie to watch, followed by dinner out at my favorite Korean restaurant and maybe a concert in the evening. The next day would involve going to the antique market with my parents and spending the rest of the day with my family and my fiance, being lazy and petting the cats around the fire pit.
What's your kryptonite?
Sleeping late. I will sleep the morning away every opportunity I get.