The Fairy-tale illustrations of Yelena Bryksenkova

Russian-born Yelena Bryksenkova, raised in Ohio, and educated at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the Academy of Applied and Decorative Arts in Prague, Czech Republic. She received her BFA in illustration in 2010. Yelena lives in New England with her imaginary pet elephant and work as a freelance illustrator.

Her small pen and watercolor paintings are inspired by her love of home and the comfort of everyday objects, as well as more magical, mysterious and melancholy themes.

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The mix of domestic, quiet things like teapots and floral rugs, with witchy, wild, fairytale things makes for a world that is somehow soothing and at the same time, a little dangerous. She shows a fierce dedication to pattern, which makes the illustrations feel rich and full of controlled clutter (in the way that feels cozy and not claustrophobic) and makes your eye flit all around the page.

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Yelena adds the eastern European folk art-feel to her work and the color palette she works with- especially when drawing flowers. It is so subtle and magical!

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Yelena says about her work, “On rare occasions, I get an idea and I sit down and churn it out in a few hours, hiccup-free and just as I’d imagined it. But in most cases, there’s a lot of sketching, a lot of giving up and saying “I’ll think about it tomorrow,” a lot of tossing duds in the wastepaper basket. It comes naturally, but I still have to struggle with it a lot of the time. And I also judge my own work more harshly than anybody else, so I often create that struggle myself.”

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She pointed out Ivan Bilibin, Leon Bakst, Gustav Klimt, and J.W. Waterhouse as my biggest influences on her personal style. But her aesthetic is also shaped by the books she read, the music she listen to, the places she have traveled or dream of traveling to. She is dedicated to “collecting” beautiful places and ideas that come out in her drawings eventually. It is also important to her that she works almost completely by hand. As frustrating as they may be sometimes, she believe the imperfections that result characterize her style as well.


Her clients include: The New York Times, Real Simple Magazine, Bust magazine, Urban Outfitters, American Greetings, Metro Czech Republic, Random House, Penguin, Oh Comely magazine, Tomorrow magazine and Anorak.

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