Eleni Kalorkoti has been quietly building a sterling portfolio of illustrations over the past few years, her subtle aesthetics and charming characters proving a perfect match for editorials in the New York Times, Pitchfork and The Guardian. Painted mostly in watercolour and ink, often using pencil drawings and collage, her work is understated in muted, gradated colours and soft forms.
“I like quite graphic forms but I’m also always trying to make my pictures have more nuance and variety,” says Eleni. “My work has evolved a lot in the past couple of years I think, it’s only really in that time that I’ve settled into using ink and watercolour as my main tools and that’s made a huge difference to the feel of my illustrations.”
Earlier this year Eleni received her first commission from The New Yorker (below) to accompany a short story by Alexandra Kleeman, realising a personal career goal in elegant style. A second soon followed: a more visually dynamic artwork for a Lauren Collins’ essay, demonstrating the illustrator’s adaptable work. A third for the magazine is in the pipeline.
Meanwhile she’s been evolving her personal work. In 2015 she was awarded the Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Art Scholarship by Morley College, London, and spent a year exploring her practice, developing her illustrations for textile design, collage and even quilts, which feature highly geometric patterns and bold repeats.
Eleni has also been exploring different subject matter and approaches through zines and self-initiated illustrations, something she believes is vital. “It’s made a big difference in how I tackle commissioned work,” she explains, “as I always feel too limited in how I think about illustration, so I’m always trying to push things further in an attempt to get better at my job!”