The talented fashion illustrator, Elaine Biss, is the artist behind all artwork done for our latest collection, The Secret Garden. CINER recently caught up with the illustrator in our NYC showroom. While she was here, we asked her a few questions about her background, aesthetic, influencers and other things that inspire her to create stunning pieces of art.
Elaine grew up in Puerto Rico with her incredibly supportive parents. Elaine’s father was a drafter, while her mother was a seamstress. Her mother was taught how to sew by a student of Carlota Alfaro, also known as the Coco Chanel of Puerto Rico.
Elaine’s earliest design influence came from the great appreciation to detail that her mother put into her sewing. As she began developing her own style of art, Elaine learned that you can have a lot of character and elegance in something that is also very minimalistic. This type of alchemy is something she aims to achieve in her work. Elaine takes what her mother taught her about detail, and incorporates that into her art.
Color, color, color!
“It’s very important to my creative process to be inspired by the mood or feeling I get from different colors.”
“Form is also very important to me. I am able to look at different fashion magazines or fashion portraits and see what the designer, couturist, or artist was going for in their work. It is important for me to see different shapes, and see how they play out on the human figure.”
Elaine likes to imagine what the designer or artist was thinking and determine what the thought process was behind the piece. Elaine then uses the same thought process when she begins to draw.
“I cannot create an illustration just for the sake of drawing. It has to pay homage to a piece that a designer or artist made.”
Katie Rodgers – Elaine was a student of Katie Rodgers. Originally being a water color artist, Elaine admires Katie’s work and appreciates the fact that Katie broke her fear of using different mediums, whether they would be more expensive paints, paper, or tools that were out of her comfort zone. Katie also helped Elaine create pieces of art she did not think she had in her.
Jean Cocteau has a huge influence on Elaine’s work.
“I appreciate Cocteau’s line work and the fact that you know he did his sketches right then and there.”
“Although he changed his style what seems to be, to me, about a million times, Picasso knew he was good at what he was doing. I admire the confidence he portrays in his style of work.”
“I admire the use of repetition and detail used in Erte’s 1930’s work. I have a huge appreciation for his style being so ahead of the times.”
Navigating the Art World:
With so many incredible technological advances in the industry, Elaine is able to navigate the art world in a sophisticated manner. Elaine sees different advances and applications in the industry as tools; however these tools are not what make you an artist. You can use different applications to make art, but she views it as a very particular type of art.
“You can cut paper with a knife or a pair of scissors, but only one is going to give you a cleaner cut.”
The illustrator does not shun technology. However, she feels if she cannot make it in the real world with a piece of paper, then why try doing it digitally. If Elaine can create something digitally, then she feels like she must be able to do it in the real world- it must be tangible.
Personality in her Artwork:
While creating her stunning pieces of work, Elaine takes on a different persona. She believes when it comes to fashion and art, one should be a very specific person. He or she should be very elegant, eloquent, and confident. Elaine understands, and has come to peace with the fact that sometimes she does not have all of these qualities and characteristics; however, every day she strives to achieve them.
“I admire the quote, write it down, and make it happen.”
Elaine wants to be a very specific person but understands she has to work on herself to be the woman she wants to be. She uses the qualities she feels are best suited for a specific piece of work, and tries to showcase this in her illustrations. Elaine’s girls are very elegant, eloquent, and serious but are also whimsical and playful.
Overcoming Creative Blocks
Elaine admits that she tries to occupy herself with other activities while dealing with creative blocks. Part of her creative process is doing three pages of calligraphy writing or handwriting practice. If she is not drawing, Elaine is writing. The artist believes there is a strong correlation between beautiful writing and beautiful illustrations. She is very religious and passionate about following this practice, especially during a creative block.
If Elaine does not believe today is a good day for drawing, she will go and mix colors by hand or explore other hobbies like cooking and reading. Elaine does this so she is not one-faceted, but instead multifaceted. She believes being multifaceted helps one expand their creativity.
Elaine’s Signature Look and Aesthetic:
Paying homage to her culture, Elaine is inspired by Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, writings and paintings and has found herself mixing those inspirations together. Elaine is also passionate about her girls exuding a mood on their face to show expression and is very into the detail of her lines.
“As of late, there is a lot more texture from dry brushes that differentiates my illustrations from other illustrators.”
Elaine believes the lines she creates belong to the actual piece and she has learned to use different aspects from her culture to intertwine into her fashion illustrations.
Elaine’s Advice to Other Illustrators:
“Don’t give up! You have to keep on keeping on!”
Everyone has their ups and downs, but it’s so important to maintain some sort of consistency in your work. You only get better if you continue and maintain the craft.
Contact Elaine Biss:
If you are interested in Elaine’s work and want to learn more, please visit her website here!
Elaine’s Contact information can be found here!
MAIL: P.O. Box 256
Bausman, PA 17504
Written by: Stephanie Fuhro