Tuesday 14h September 2021
Photos: Tom Hutts
Words: Tom Hutts
From self-satiring designs on Microsoft Paint to illustrated mixtapes, Ella Braidwood shares a selection of playful and personal artwork. Ella's open-minded and humble approach to her own practice is evident throughout this collection and commentary that we're delighted to present here on Front Left.
Alongside Ella's work, she shares some reflections on the inspirations and context of each piece, along with the music that's helping shape her creativity...
Reflections 007: Ella Braidwood
FL: What, where or who is really inspiring your practice at the moment?
EB: Recently, a lot of inspiration has come from conversations that I’ve had with friends. If there's a topic on my mind that I want to explore, I’ll always discuss it with people. I think that sends me further down a rabbit hole of interest and I find myself eager to bring the idea to a visual fruition.
I’m quite a wordy person, I’m chatty and constantly writing down ideas and a lot of my sketchbook is just ramblings - the drawings tend to come after. I like being able to bounce concepts off someone, it means thinking of things you might not have otherwise.
I’m sure all artists struggle with a tendency to overthink and face creative slumps. I made a comic to try and encapsulate that feeling. This was for a project exploring responsibility, whatever that might mean to me. I think it sent me into a bit of a spiral so I wanted to poke fun at myself. Serves as a reminder to not take things too seriously, strengthened by the art style and medium of Microsoft Paint. There can be power in simplicity for elevating a point.
This was the first piece of art that I got professionally printed and sold. It had a great response, which I think was a real moment of encouragement for me. It’s funny when the work that doesn’t have much thought behind it does well - I guess that’s a reminder to create for the sake of creating too, not to always focus on the big ideas laced with meaning. I just really wanted to draw a cowboy boot.
FL: How do you find music influences your creative process?
EB: I have music on whenever I work and I probably spend a bit longer than I should choosing playlists or albums that will get me into a groove of making. I find ambient music to be a favourite for when I want to get into a deep state of concentration - I like this best when I'm working on mindless, therapeutic stages of a drawing. Hiroshi Yoshimura’s GREEN is an album I love for this.
On the other hand, I find music that focuses heavily on lyricism can be really good for stimulating visual ideas. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dry Cleaning’s album New Long Leg, which is great for this. Putting headphones on and listening to an album like that while just sketching what you hear is a really good way of loosening up and generating ideas.
Centre of the Universe
“the nest found in natural surroundings, and which becomes for a moment the centre - and I mean this by no exaggeration - of an entire universe, the evidence of a cosmic situation.”
I wanted to restrict myself to simple tools for this, as for a while I’d been feeling burnt out. But I wanted to create something technically more intricate and skilled than my previous piece of work being drawn on MS Paint. I used one 6b pencil (the king of graphite grades) and a piece of a4 inkjet paper. This was part of a series in response to the above quote from Gaston Bachelard’s ‘Poetics of Space’
I’m hoping to venture into animation more over the next year, everything I’ve animated so far has been drawn frame by frame so it’s forced me to keep things short and simple under deadlines. I’m hoping to learn new softwares to open more doors and create longer videos with more complex illustrations, which I feel would be a great way to combine my art with music. I like the idea of creating music videos in the future, working collaboratively with other artists.
A Letter in Sound
These mixtapes were intended to act as an intervention on typical methods of connection, in what felt like a very digital and lonely time. I wanted to create an audio letter, so I recorded sounds from throughout my day that would be telling of how my time was spent. Kettle boiling, pencil to paper, tuning a guitar etc.
Challenging the usual ways we reach out to one another, I made 12 to be sent to my closest friends, each with a unique illustrated cover. I recorded an original song for the B side too, which was a welcome new challenge and a further example of music’s influence on my work.
FL: Do you think there’s something unique or exciting about being an artist in Scotland right now? What would you like to see on the horizon for arts communities here?
EB: I think the most exciting thing right now is just the anticipation of what’s to come after almost 2 years of creating in isolation, the emergence from a very digital art world. I hope to see arts communities strengthened and physical spaces utilised.
I have a feeling there will be a total buzz of creativity, with the return of live music, clubs, exhibition spaces etc. There will be so much to be excited and inspired by.
I’m most looking forward to having a shared studio space after working out of my bedroom for so long, and to actually feel like I’m part of a community.
Find more of Ella's work on Instagram.