By popular demand, we've been searching the globe for some of the raddest artists we felt complimented the essence of skateboarding. Next up, Sydney based Illustrator, Elena Fx.
Elena Fombertaux (also known as Elena Fx), is a freelance Illustrator, artist and Graphic Designer, based in Sydney, Australia.
This or that:
Movies/ Shows: Shows
Spirit Animal: Moth
About the Panther Artwork:
"I’m not great at loose everyday sketching and exploratory drawing, I need to set a specific project to inspire me. When I was traveling back in 2019 I wanted to do a whole series on places I’d been (the traveling took over though and I didn’t get too far)! The piece on the board is about the ancient Mayan ruins of Tik'al in Guatemala, where jaguars still roam.
I always hand-sketch first, probably because I have a cheap wacom, but also because it feels most natural to me. I did the concept sketch while I was on Utila island in Honduras.
I was learning to scuba, although I quickly realized I had trouble equalizing my ears underwater so in the end, had heaps of time to kill while I waited for my partner to finish the course. I worked up the piece digitally in a beautiful jungle setting in central Honduras around Lake Yojoa.
The ancient city of Tik’al was once ruled by the king Jaguar Paw, who was known for completing the Lost World Pyramid, part of a series of ceremonial structures designed to align with and observe the solar equinox and solstices – hence the phases of the moon above his head. Today, ritual ceremonies continue to be performed around the altars of the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar at sunrise and sunset during the solstices."
How + when did you get started in your career?
I always used to draw as a kid. When I was little, I could only be coaxed into going on family camping trips if I had a little plastic suitcase filled with paper and pens. In highschool, I could sit and draw for hours and hours and into the night. I was definitely an alternative teen and would escape in video games and fantasy art. I used to love Boris Vallejo (to my art teacher's horror) and Yoshitaka Amano.
When it came to choosing a career, like many with an artistic inclination, I believed the best way to earn a living would be through design, which is what I spend most of my time doing, but now I’m building up my art practice on the side
What does your office set up look like?
It’s a home studio with a big wooden desk. I work mainly digitally so that’s all I really need aside from a laptop and tablet. But my work desk is big – my dad is a retired carpenter / builder and always appreciated a generous workspace and made us desks that would run the length of an entire wall. We had to cut it down to make it fit in the room.
One day I’d love to have an expansive studio where I can throw some paint around.
What software do you use?
I use Photoshop for my illustration work and a cheap bluetooth wacom tablet (that I bought at the only computer store in Belize City, Belize where I happened to be when my old one died!). I just bought an iPad but haven't figured out how to use it just yet.
What is your favorite belonging?
An artwork by Brett Stenson – it’s my first serious art piece I’ve invested in. It’s a beautiful hand-carved mobile of fish hanging off a fishing rod. They spin around on their own, it's magical.
I bought it around the time of lockdowns when I was feeling a little bit boxed-in, lost and lonely as many people were. Coincidentally, the piece was made in 2018 which was the year that I left my last full-time job to take time out to reflect and go freelance. The way Brett Stenson described the piece (below) really spoke to me.
Share a story about your home town?
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
It’s hard for me to pick... It’s like asking a parent which child is their favourite! But I do have a favourite way of working – freelance. Art directing for independent businesses means the client isn’t as bound by rigid rules like larger corporate brands. You get to work with people who are genuinely passionate about what they do, are excited to work with you, and it’s hard not to get excited yourself, or feel like you’ve made a real impact. I’m currently illustrating a series of book covers for an American author that are a lot of fun for all those reasons above.
Some of my favourite clients have been the BBC and Mr Black Spirits. Nature and mysticism are pretty core inspiration points for me and fit into those brands so well. Looking back on those jobs it’s nice to see how much I’ve grown towards developing my style and abilities too.
Money is no object. What are you buying?
I’d quit my day job, design my own house on a big bit of land near the coast, fill it with art and split my time between making art at home and traveling.
I traveled for a year in 2019, mostly through central and south America. I’d do that again in another part of the world! I’ve currently got my sights set on a trip to Kyrgyzstan – I love going to remote places and exploring on horseback. I think I was obsessed with the idea ever since I played Legend of Zelda on Nintendo. Just something about that expansive Hyrule field, hanging out with Epona, the serenity.
Who inspires you as an artist?
I draw from a lot of influences. At the time I did the art for the board, I was just starting to explore what my ‘style’ could be – and I still am. Historically I’d only drawn detailed pieces in graphite pencil, and I wanted to make bold and graphic work like Young Jerks, Brett Stenson or Stevie Shao, work that felt relevant today but also rooted in history or influenced by a particular (visual) culture.
There’s a part of me that still feels attached to a detailed and delicate aesthetic, and I’ve tried to stay true to that in my more recent work.
If you could no longer work as an artist, what would you do instead?
I’m a graphic designer, illustrator and artist. Most practicing artists I know have an alternate source of income. If I couldn’t work in any of those fields I’d love to do something that helps or promotes other creatives, like working as an educator or running a gallery.
What is the single item you can’t live without?
What is the most useless talent you have?
I can imitate the sound of dolphins and magpies pretty well. Swoopy boi magpies are a bit of a thing in Australia, so it’s good to be learning their language and trying to get on their side.
If you could time travel, when would you travel to, and why?
I’d go back in time to see dinosaurs in real life!
Where can people learn more about you?