For Ellice Weaver, an illustrator who creates “wonky, exaggerated characters wearing clothes I wish I owned, placed in flat scenes participating in various aspects of life,” her journey into illustration has been a long and winding one.
Originally from the UK and now living in Berlin, it wasn’t until Ellice was already studying illustration that she got fully into the medium personally. Comics and zines were an initial gateway, where narrative was equally important as the drawing style used. “I always enjoyed drawing,” she says, “but when I realised that I could use drawing as a vehicle to communicate a message, that’s when I really started having fun. Until then, I was just drawing for the sake of drawing.”
It makes sense then that since graduating the majority of Ellice’s practice is creating illustrations to aid editorial pieces. In Berlin, the illustrator lives in a camper van in the carpark of her studio, situated in an old Stasi building overlooking the Hohenschönhausen memorial. Despite sitting opposite a prison of the GDR, Ellice finds her surroundings provide “a good reason to make bright illustrations,” in order to “counteract the gloomy setting.”
Overall, the creative culture of Berlin also provides consistent inspiration for Ellice, as it’s “drenched in illustration,” she points out. “It’s really easy to be influenced here,” she continues, whether it’s by spotting an illustrated mural nestled between concrete tower blocks, or finding new illustrators through second hand books picked up at markets.
When it comes to style, all of this influence combines with the initial techniques Ellice learned while studying illustration. Like many students, she spent time working on her muscles through screen printing. Yet, this taught her more much than a process, admitting she concentrated “not so much on the printing side, but the technique".
Initially making illustrations by painting a layer of black ink onto a marked resist, Ellice would then scan the layers in Photoshop, changing the black to the colour she wanted. “This taught me a lot about limiting colour palettes, and balancing an image while using a certain amount of colours.” Now working digitally, the illustrator carries on with these techniques, combined with a love for the accuracy “drawing with a Cintiq allows," she tells us. "I’m a messy person by nature so it’s great not to have all of these sheets lying around.”
With this technique and a stylistic eye solidified, art directors clearly trust Ellice with interpreting a wide spanning amount of themes. It proves that if your process is considered, and produces such intricately delicate drawings as Ellice does, no subject is out of bounds.
For instance, most recently she’s created an editorial to support a piece “on a millennial who drives to Disneyland by herself to work through her feelings about a break-up,” to a piece for The Washington Post on the lack of women on corporate boards, and she’s just finished drawing a scene about oat milk. “I’m pretty excited about that.”
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