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Work / Illustration

Elena Xausa amplifies the wit of her work with added animation

When the illustrator Elena Xausa is drawing she’ll often find herself “smiling at characters or the situations I draw,” she tells us. “It’s a bit crazy I know but, in my mind, every character I draw has their own specific personality.” It’s an occurrence we’d like to think happens in many an illustrator’s practice, but for Elena in particular the characterful quality to her work has been amplified recently, by introducing animation to her practice.

The addition of animation began naturally in Elena’s work, popping up in various editorial commissions when it suited the brief, most notably and consistently in her work for The New York Times crossword. Jumping her characters into action, the medium adds a new quality to Elena’s work, but retains her signature illustrative wit. In her own words, it adds “a temporal dimension to my work and this is what interests me most,” she explains. “Plus the result is more catchy.”

Previously only working two dimensionally, Elena explains that in her job she’s “always dealing with the synthesis and visualisation of concepts that are often vast and complex in scope,” particularly in the editorial sphere. What this means is that it’s the illustrator’s responsibility to interpret these concepts in “a creative and unusual visual way,” she describes. “To me, this is the real challenge,” and one animation helps to solve, immediately relaying Elena’s train of thought to the viewer with the bonus of movement.

Working on these newer animations with her partner Lorenzo Fonda, the pieces begin with Elena compiling a series of sketches, before handing them to Lorenzo who will “review them and confirm if things can be animated the way I envisaged them, or if we should think of an alternative option." With Elena’s concentration directed at “static ideas and composition” and her partner focusing and thinking “in movement and time”, the results convey how useful animation can be at adding a whole new layer of language to illustration. “It’s just great,” Elena continues on the instance of seeing her work move. “I’m always surprised by it!”

Aside from her animation experiments, another large change in the illustrator’s life has been a recent move to New York, setting up camp in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, after growing up in Italy and a stint in Berlin. Already “swamped in deadlines,” Elena’s finding her new home to be “incredibly stimulating”, pointing out how “there are so many things going on in the city that it’s easy to get frustrated, and have FOMO,” she admits. “Honestly, it’s often hard to combine work and deadlines with the multitude of social events happening. There’s a niche for everything you like, for whatever is your hobby or passion, and I think that’s pretty unique.”

Creating some of her most exciting work to date alongside living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, we can’t wait to see where Elena’s talent takes her next.

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©2019 The New York Times Company
©2019 The New York Times Company
©2019 The New York Times Company