Ellie Andrews draws flowers and elephants with “acid smiley faces, mixed with big bubble letters”
The San Francisco-based artist creates work inspired by her collection of toys, objects and vintage T-shirts.
- Ruby Boddington
- 27 March 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
The portfolio of artist Ellie Andrews was brought to our attention on International Womxn’s Day when our pal Rose Pilkington named her as one of the ten creatives who inspire her. And we’re mighty glad Rose did, because Ellie’s work is right up our street. Originally from London, Ellie is now based in San Francisco where she makes paintings, ceramics and graphics, and also teaches on an After School Program teaching art to local youth.
Ellie’s introduction to her career began at Camberwell School of Art. “When I started I honestly had no plans about the class I would choose,” she recalls. “I applied to study illustration because it looked like people were having the most fun on that course. We were given a lot of freedom to create art in space that felt inclusive, and didn’t take itself too seriously.”
It’s a course that has produced some of the best in the business, including Naomi Anderson-Subryan, Holly St Clair, Aga Giecko, Caitlin McCarthy and Jack Sachs, to name but a few! Clearly, it fosters an environment where creatives can flourish and be playful, and Ellie’s portfolio today bears all the same hallmarks.
In one piece, a ceramic flower with a smiling face forms a plant pot and in another a pink butterfly sits comfortably among a forest of pink plants painted on canvas. Each piece is filled with personality, turning what could be naive characters into accomplished pieces with a sense of humour. We’re particularly fond of Ellie’s recurring elephant character who graces skateboard decks, ceramics and laser-cut boards.
Ellie’s visual language, in turn, is an interesting combination of skate aesthetics, Saturday morning cartoons and graffiti. This stems from her collection of “toys, objects, and vintage Tees that feature cartoon characters”. As she puts it: “I like drawing plants and flowers with acid smiley faces, mixed with big bubble letters... I really enjoy working on projects for streetwear and skate brands, because my personal interests can align with my commercial practice.”
As well as working on commercial projects, Ellie produces a lot personal work and more exhibition-led pieces, her practice being a particularly varied one. It’s something she particularly enjoys about working as an artist, saying: “My work takes shape through a mix of forms, like painting, graphic design and ceramic sculpture. I like having the freedom to see how my visual language can translate into different mediums.”
Recently this culminated in a group show at Whaam in New York City titled Driving Forces which then led to a show at in Miami titled More Than A Feeling at Rice Hotel. “Last year, I really worked at pushing what I could achieve with my paintings,” Ellie explains. “These shows took place at a time when I was starting to feel good about how my paintings were taking shape.”
In another project, Ellie created graphics and illustrations for the 1886 x Adidas London N5 fanzine, which launched a kit for Arsenal football club. “This was a dream project to work on, being born in north London, I was obsessed with Arsenal as a kid,” Ellie tells us. The zine features collaborations with photographers, designers and artists and aimed to celebrate the strong community that Arsenal fans have built together. “There’s an interview with my childhood hero Ian Wright too!” Ellie adds.
Unfortunately, as with much of the creative community, some of Ellie’s plans for this year have been on hold but she’s “trying to keep a positive mindset, be conscientious and practise ‘social distancing’”. In the meantime, she’s going to keep drawing and painting and will be releasing some T-shirts later this year featuring her signature graphics and illustrations. We’re holding out for something sporting our fave elephant guy and suggest you go follow Ellie on Instagram right now, so you can get your hands on one when they do come out.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.