Artist Spotlight: Elena Kulish

When art did appear in your life and what was the starting point? Why did you choose fashion illustration as an expression form of art?


Art appeared in my life in the early childhood. I have been drawing since I remember myself, but I never received a formal education. I always thought of drawing as of my own special way of self-expression, it was just a part of me. However, it wasn’t until late 2017 that I discovered fashion illustration. I didn’t know what it was called and how it could be applied, but I was charmed by the pictures I came across on the Internet. They were so elegant and expressive, they caught my eye immediately and I just had an insight - that’s what I should do. Later I learned that fashion illustration is a lot more than just pretty pictures, and that captivated me even more.


Tell us about the process of creation. How do you come up with the idea and when the implementation does start?


The process always starts with a flash of inspiration. I may be looking through a magazine, or my Instagram feed, see an interesting picture and ideas just come to my mind. If I see something that inspires me ( a model, a dress or a fashion piece) I instantly have a vision of how I can transform that into an art. This is a spontaneous act of creativity and I love when it happens.


But it can happen the other way around too. When I have an idea of something I want to create, I start searching for visuals. I think about colors, composition,  details, and technique that would best convey my idea. This is not as easy as the first way, but equally as thrilling. I usually create moodboard (most often a digital one), in which I include all the references I might need. Then I start creating. Sometimes the result turns out somewhat different from what I envisioned, but I trust my intuition and let it do its thing for me.

Tell us about the spaces within you live and work.


My all-time working environment is my apartment. This is where I live with my family, this is where I work and keep my artworks and materials. For the past year I have been working mostly on my iPad, therefore I am not tied to any place and basically I can take my work anywhere.


How has the pandemic affected your creative process in terms of goal setting? How did you deal with lockdown and limitations of last year?


I am a freelancer and most of my work is remote, so the lockdown did not affect my work routine dramatically. However, as an artist I really missed going to places where I could get inspiration, such as theaters, museums, galleries, fashion events, and so on.


Speaking about the effect of pandemic on my creative process, it was substantial. First of all, I started to think more about what I can give to others. That was the time when everyone tried to support each other and make the self-isolation time at least a little bit more enjoyable. And that is what I plan to continue doing - giving something back to the community through my art. Another thing that changed was my goals. I started to think wider, started looking for other opportunities beside just working on commission. Fashion illustration has grown much more popular lately, and I believe that is in no small part because of the pandemic and limitations it caused.

What is inspiration for you and where do you get it from? Do you struggle with periods of burnout or do you let your emotions take over?


For me inspiration can come from anywhere. Mostly it’s different forms of art: cinema, music, architecture, fashion, photography, paintings, etc. Also nature - it is so mighty and it has everything that one might need to get inspired. And people. I get inspiration from talented people who make a difference in this world.


Inspiration is not something you can control, but still it’s not something you should sit and wait for. I think about it as a product of engagement with the world. It does not come from nowhere, it emerges in a mind that is well-fed with quality impressions.


Burnouts happen with me, as I believe they do with any artist. Burnout is like hunger. It won’t go away until you feed yourself with the right “food”. The best way to deal with it is to get some new experiences and impressions, to feed your mind. I also like to say that appetite comes while you eat, and inspiration comes while you work”.


Do you cooperate with brands or galleries? If so, tell us please about the brightest project you were working on?


I cooperate with Ukrainian brands, some are local and just emerging, others are well known nationally and are represented internationally. I have had a lot of interesting and challenging projects, but I tend to think that my brightest projects are yet to come.

What are your future artistic plans and current projects you are working on? Tell us please about your future collaboration with Haze Gallery.


My artistic ambitions run as high as opening my own art space, running fashion illustration courses, creating fashion art for sale and promoting fashion illustration in various ways. I am open to any opportunity for my art to gain exposure make a difference. I would happily collaborate with Haze Gallery to showcase my works in live exhibitions and in other ways that might be beneficial for both of us.


Among your works. Which one is your favorite and why?


I really can’t pick just one. They are all so dear to me and each one is special in its own way.


Name please artists who inspire you the most.


I find a lot of inspiration in the works of impressionists, this is my favorite artistic style and sometimes I like to use some of its techniques in my works. Among fashion illustrators, I admire the works of Rene Gruau, Tony Viramontes, David Downton, Malika Favre.