Interview: Meet Illustrator: Eleanor Young

Eleanor Young is a Canadian-Chinese Illustrator based in Strasbourg, France. Currently doing her Master’s degree in Multilingual Web Communication at the University of Strasbourg. Eleanor went to the School of Visual Arts in New York for her Undergraduate degree in Illustration. Eleanor illustrated YHWH Nailgun for our latest issue. Read on to find out about her inspirations and process…

First of all, how did you get into illustration?

As with all children, I really loved to draw. I think I just never stopped. Anime was a big influence on me
as a pre-pubescent teen— I would try and copy all of the characters that I liked. The interest in anime
eventually lessened as I grew older, but the passion for drawing stayed.

How do you go about starting a piece of work? Does it start as a pencil drawing? What is your

I always search for reference and inspiration photos before any project. This gives me a good sense of
the aesthetic I’m going for, as well as more specificity to the actual thing I’m drawing. After that, I sketch a few thumbnails to try and see which composition would work best. I tidy them up, and send them off to
the Art Director, where they then decide on one specific composition that they would want me to finalize
(if there is an AD). The fun part after that is pulling out the traditional media (typically gouache or pastel
pencils). My art usually involves a mixture of traditional and digital, though the percentage of each
depends on the specific project!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a Chinese-English children’s book regarding an ancient Chinese proverb!

Tell us about a typical working day

Because I’m currently a full-time Master’s student, I don’t have large swaths of time to work on my
illustrations. When I have illustration-work, I do it in between my classes and homework, either at night or
during the weekend. If I have the luxury of a whole or half-day to do my illustrations, I like to treat myself
and go to a café. I find that I focus better when I’m not at home, and it provides me with an excuse to
escape my small apartment. Coffee is a must-have when drawing, and a nice snack is also appreciated 🙂

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

It would be a great privilege if my images could evoke an aesthetic pleasure, as well as a mental intrigue.

Whose work do you admire and why?

That’s a very hard question. When I was younger, I solely admired the aesthetic skill of an artist, but now
that I’m in the industry myself I’ve realized that I greatly appreciate artists who are able to promote
themselves well, and who can successfully operate their businesses, such as Sha’an d’Anthes
(@furrylittlepeach) and Fran Meneses (@frannerd). As well, my professors at SVA were incredible: they
were my role-models when I was in school. After I graduated, my classmates became my biggest
inspiration with their continuous impressive output of work, namely Sunny Wu (@bysunnywu) and Tara
Anand (@taraanandart). Historically-speaking, I absolutely delight in looking at Egon Schiele’s linework
and block-colour; Leyendecker for the class and deliberate brushwork of his characters; Matisse for the
sheer fun he seems to have had with his bright palettes and loose strokes.

Does music influence your work at all?

Music is often essential to give me enough motivation to get started with my artwork. It helps me focus
and to get into a calm-enough flow for me to sit there, be it for an hour or three to five hours at a time. I
don’t think that music directly influences my output of art, because I’m much more of a visual than an
auditory person, however it is a great and necessary aid in my art-making process.

Who’s your favourite new band?

Does a band that’s founded in 2018 count as recent? Because if so, then it would be Cody Lee (李), a
Japanese band with a rather indie-rock sound. I highly recommend checking out their music videos on
Youtube. Each video is a work of art and a masterclass in story-telling, especially the song 我愛你.

Finally, what can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I’ve finally decided to stop being a grumpy old lady protesting the changing times and to ultimately jump
onto the social media scene. I’ve been trying to expand my content into Tiktok, XSH (the Chinese
equivalent of Instagram), and potentially even youtube (@itseleanoryoung for all social media). As for
work, I’d love to take on more lifestyle/travel/culture magazine illustrations.

So Young is a new music magazine and the new issue is out now. Buy your print copy here or read the digital edition below.