Christmas is coming to town! And if you are a cat lover and want to have a “Meowy” Christmas, you have to check this amazing graphic artist. Elena Maykhrych was born and raised in Lviv, Ukraine where she finished university with a Master’s degree program in graphic design. Now she is an Istanbul-based, specializing in 2D animation, illustration, and character design.
It was her first job at a design studio that changed her life when her then Art Director asked her to create an animated piece. As a huge fan of Disney and Hayao Miyazaki, she jumped at the chance.
Passionate about creating beautiful and colorful artworks, her impressive client list includes Snapchat, SAP, Nike, LG, Microsoft, RAM Fiat, Campo Viejo, VEON, Instagram, Huawei, and Method.
When not animating you can find her pursuing her other passion as an Argentinian Tango dancer.
What life events influenced your decision to become an illustrator?
From a very young age, I was in love with the storytelling and music of Hayao Miyazaki and Disney films. I think this was the moment when I decided that the illustration and animation worlds would be an important part of my life.
How would you define your illustration style?
As for now, I cannot tell that I have a specific style. All these years I see how I am changing as an illustrator. Whenever there comes a new project I try to be more flexible in finding better ways to make something that will work for the client and at the same time, to be something that I love and feel proud of.
You made two beautiful Christmas illustrations called “Meowy Christmas” and “Have a Cozy day”. What was your inspiration for each one?
Well, as for the ”Meowy Christmas”, the inspiration behind it was my fluffy cat Pamuk. At that period I was wondering to try a slightly different style of drawing and make an animated version of my cat. As for ”Have a Cozy Day”, I love to create wallpapers and New Year and Christmas are my favorite periods of the year, so I was just trying to make something sweet and cozy that other people would like to see and use on their screens during the holiday season.
For “Meowy Christmas” animation you recorded your own meows. Is it difficult to find sound files online for your animations? Where do you usually get them?
It is a very funny thing, but I love to copy my cat meows and for this animation, I really struggled to find one that I could use, so I just managed to do it by myself. For important projects, I am buying music for example from pond5. But for my personal animations, I am randomly searching free music at Google until I find the perfect one.
Tell us more about the Our Planet Week project, in which you participated this year. What is it about? How do they select the artists? How was the overall experience?
This was my first time participating and I was very excited because from time to time you’ve got this feeling that you need to do something different, sometimes important and Our Planet Week was one of these things. So what is Our Planet Week? This is an illustration movement created to spread environmental awareness through art and illustration. And their goal was to plant 5000 trees by the end of the year, which is one tree for every illustration submitted during the challenge. Everyone could join it and their work could be noticed by 16 host artists of this movement, so they were sharing their favorite illustrations in the feed and stories. Overall this was an interesting experience and I would like to join it next year too.
You also develop AR Lens. What programs do you use for that? How did you learn to do it? What do you like the most?
About a year ago I decided to learn how to develop AR Lens. This was a Snapchat Creative Invite organized by Talenthouse. Specifically for this, I had to learn to use Lens Studio by Snap Inc. Even though it was quite difficult, it was a very exciting journey. Now more than ever I find it very important to learn for example Blender, because you can make much more interesting stuff there.
How did you start selling NFTs? It’s something very new and there are still many artists who don’t dare to do it! Are you finding it economically profitable?
From the beginning, this was my husband’s idea. He thought that in a period it can really work out. Of course, we just entered this new and different world. I don’t know very much how economically profitable this is, but I am sure this is something that is at least worthy to try.
This year you did not participate in Inktober, but you have participated in previous years. Have you ever been able to do the 31 days? What do you enjoy most about this challenge?
Inktober is a very fascinating movement for me. To be honest, I still haven’t been able to do the 31 days, this is a very challenging task and you need a lot of time and passion to finish it. I think there are so many things to enjoy, starting from finding a perfect prompt list, deciding your drawing style, and finishing with buying new markers and equipment for drawing. All these things make this challenge so special.
What is your favorite drawing or painting in your portfolio and why? (Or a commissioned project you feel especially proud about!)
In the last few years, I’ve made different projects and won ten creative contests. All of them I am very proud of. The only sad side is that some of the cool projects that I did for big companies, I am not able to tell about or show, because of the contracts. So, I would choose from my personal portfolio my artwork “Love what you do”. I made it around a year ago, and that was a very difficult period for everyone. At that period all artists were trying to support each other and to share a lot of positive vibes. And this illustration was one of that kind.
What is the hardest part of creating an illustration?
I think the hardest and the most important one is finding the right idea. This part is always challenging and needs good concentration.
How do you learn about new techniques and tools?
I love to follow different accounts on Instagram, this helps to see new interesting techniques and tools that artists are sharing, for example, Tony Babel and Procreate accounts.
How has your practice changed over time?
Over time I had very different tasks, projects, and different customer needs. All of this helped to grow my skills.
What work do you most enjoy doing nowadays?
I really love to do all kinds of work, be it animation or illustration or even tango.
Speaking of tango, you have a number of drawings inspired by it, being a tango dancer yourself. Tell us about this particular series of drawings!
A few years ago, I started to learn Argentine tango. It started as a hobby, but now it is an important part of my life. And this series was made special for World Tango Day. The main idea was just to have fun and to combine different characters together with different tango poses. And such combinations can be endless.
What do you think is the best feature of our project MasterBundles?
As an illustrator, I would say that MasterBundles is a great digital marketplace for graphic designers where they can sell their designs and at the same time they can collaborate with big companies. A time ago I was wondering about the perfect place for this purpose, and for me, MasterBundles would be one of my first choices.
Elena Maykhrych was born and raised in Lviv, Ukraine where she finished university with a Master’s degree program in graphic design. Now she is an Istanbul-based, specializing in 2D animation, illustration, and character design.
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Feli Arrieta is a book editor and content creator from Buenos Aires. Tirelessly curious, she is passionate about traveling, living new experiences and learning different disciplines, to be shared through her writings.