Interview: Meet Illustrator Elena Boils

Born in Mexico, Elena Boils graduated from Falmouth University in 2012 and has been working freelance ever since, splitting her time between Mexico and London. We’re big fans at So Young and caught up with Elena to talk about her process, inspiration and how her music taste is like the middle section in Lidl, it makes no sense.

How do you structure your work day?

As a freelancer every day is different, but I aim to have consistency depending on what projects I’ve got on. I usually try and get the admin out of the way first and then have the rest of the day for creative work. I will try and have one day a week which is purely for research and inspiration. It can either be going somewhere as an exploration (exhibition or otherwise) or just researching something that interests me at that time.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

I go through phases of interest. At the moment I’m exploring a lot of animation in photoshop. It takes ages to make but I find something very relaxing about the repetitive nature of it, just putting a podcast or some music and working away really makes me happy. I love painting even though I’m doing less of it these days since I’ve been spending more time in Mexico and don’t currently have a studio.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

I try and find moments in the everyday, bits of colour or compositions that I am drawn to. I feel like to get inspired you need to turn on the camera in your head and snap at the phenomena around you. I also love to pretend I’m doing research whilst watching films and tv so I try and get inspiration from stills, I’ll screenshot something and then turn into an idea.

What is the most important item in your studio/workspace?

It’s very obvious but my laptop. Just because it means I can make a studio anywhere.

How have you found the transition into creating moving images? Is that a recent development?

Yes, I took a short course in frame-by-frame animation at London College of Communication a few years ago and been trying to develop this further. I’m still getting the hang of it and have a lot of learning to do but really enjoying exploring this medium. It has changed a lot about how I think about images and I feel like it has let me make things that are more humorous yet still aesthetic.

Who are the designers and illustrators you admire most?

There are so many I wouldn’t know where to begin, however someone who I always return to is, Carlos Merida. He was born in Guatemala but worked in Mexico throughout his life. He was one of those artists that work in so many mediums (illustration, design, architecture, murals, etc..) and you can see his hand in all of it. Specially love his illustration of Mexican dancing costumes.

Does music influence your work at all?

I don’t think it influences my work as much as it does my mood. I couldn’t say my work comes from a direct visual translation of sound but I guess somewhere in my subconscious it pours into what I do. I like thinking that whatever I’m listening to becomes part of the work, and sometimes I’ll look back on something I made and it will remind me of the playlist or album I had on at the time.

Who’s your favourite new band/musician?

My music taste is like the middle section in Lidl and makes no sense. Recently I’ve gotten into the band Sparks (not a new band, I know) though I’m the kind of person who will listen to what they like over and over again. I’m going to be brave and publicly admit how much I love Lana; My spotify wrapped is basically her on repeat. Also not a band but I love to crack on some dirty Cumbias while I work, loving a playlist called Cumbias de Microbusero (bus driver cumbias), El Paso del Gigante by Grupo Sonador truly gets me going.

Finally, what projects do you have coming up?

Always have loads of ideas for personal projects, especially animations. Currently looking at some ideas for a monster truck rally animation and car crashes. In terms of commercial work, I’m just about to start one of my biggest projects to date but unfortunately, I can’t talk about it just yet (sorry, I signed an NDA). I also just wrapped some work I did with a real estate company that should be propping up in central London.