Who is Dee Ellis and what do you do?
I’m an artist living and working in Joburg. I’ve spent the last five years in Grahamstown, studying Fine Art. I am now working as a freelance illustrator, on animations and children’s books. I am also active and pretty successful on Tattoodo.com as a designer. I am a pretty fabulous dancer and am addicted to chocolate.
How would you define your style or art?
If my style were a book, I would categorise it as magical realism. I work realistically at the best of times, but I do like to mix it up a bit. So I end up with a framed portrait of a French bulldog dressed as Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey… As a very adaptable artist who has a tendency to dabble in a bit of everything, I’m also currently experimenting with a looser cartoonish style, for animations.
What inspires your work?
Inspiration comes to me from other artists. As an experienced Internet lurker, I watch other artists a lot, and soak up what they have to offer. That’s my technical inspiration. Conceptually, I am inspired by arguments. If something matters enough to me for me to argue vehemently, then that’s potentially something I want to explore and see what inspiration I can draw from it. =) Also music. Specifically Muse. Ironically.
What are you currently working on?
I have many projects going. At the moment, I’m working on a short animation. I’m not at liberty to discuss the specifics of it, but I’m basically creating a bunch of cute 2D assets and backgrounds to put together into a short reel. I made the most adorable tractor in the world yesterday… I’m also finishing up on the Barklet Crawley drawing. And I’m doing speed portraits at the Medieval Fayre off Malibongwe Drive in Joburg on Saturday, so I’m fixing up my stall in preparation.
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
Don’t compromise yourself. For a long time I was looking in vain for any kind of work and I sold myself short and tried to get into office work and mediocre things like that. Things have only started going right for me since I figured f*** it I’m an artist, and that’s what I’m going to do. Art is hard, and you will feel like you’re not good enough sometimes, but when you find your thing, go with that. It’s easy after that.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight of my career has got to be my graduate exhibition. It’s the only solo I’ve done and it’s the proudest moment I’ve ever had in my life. It’s the highlight of my life really. I put it up, did the sound myself, organised the lighting, and roped a few friends into doing all the stuff with ladders for me (I’m terrified of heights). I was dead broke, and managed to use the contacts I had made during years of working for the National Arts Festival, etc, to get what I needed to make my exhibition work on no budget at all.
In the end I was sitting in the darkened theatre looking down at 200+ people all standing on stage in absolute silence gawking up at my 6m tall pastel drawings hanging around them dramatically. The atmosphere is one I will never ever forget.
Where can our readers follow your work?
I also have a facebook page on which I’m very active: /steamedrabbitart