ELLE is so much more to me than just a street artist on the rise whom I highly admire and respect, she is also one of my closest friends. This means that I have had the pleasure of watching her and her dedication to her craft and art first-hand. The street art/ graffiti world has historically been very much a boys club. I mean it is a sport that involves breaking the law, but ELLE is not only rebellious, she leaves beauty everywhere she goes, not to mention she is a total babe. I am lucky to know this rising star, she’s conquered my heart and now she is on the fast track to conquering the world. Ready, set, fall in love.
Photo by Peter Marquez
How does being a woman in a mainly male dominated world affect you and your drive?
Initially, being a woman was, itself, a big reason for me to want to get up on the streets and write graffiti- I wanted to be on par with all of the men that were crushing the streets in New York. Now I feel less like I have to prove myself as a woman, and more that I want to make work that pushes myself and my style forward. I want to keep exploring and evolving as an artist and the drive is fueled by wanting to be better and knowing that I can produce better work. I feel less obliged to prove myself– I already painted billboards on the BQE and was able to get up hard painting graffiti- so now I’m in it more for the love of it than anything else. I love using spray paint and making all sorts of work- so I will continue to do so!
What is one of the scariest experiences you have had while out painting?
Remember that one time you (Cat King) and I were out pasting together and got chased by the dude that was masturbating??!?! Hahah.. Ok, well there’s that, which was possibly more funny than anything… then there was this one time when I was by myself pasting up in Miami and a dude drove up to me and asked me what size my shoes were… and being very confused as I had really shit boots on, I was like “why” and he goes “I want to your feet. I want to cut off your feet.” I started running and jumped onto my bike and the dude flipped a u turn and started chasing me down the street in his car. I biked up to the first store I saw- a little bodega- and literally rode into the shop. I was like “OMG this dude is trying to cut off my feet!!!” kind of shrieking… and the store owner was like – “mam, you can’t have your bike in here, you have to leave” and then suddenly I realized I was the super crazy seeming one yelling in the bodega and refusing to leave… I eventually made it out in one piece! Whew!
What is some advice you would give to other pioneering girl artists?
Do your thing! Don’t be intimidated by other men or women out there- just go for it! The galleries still have a long way to go, as well as the museums- representing an extraordinarily low percentage of females compared to males– but we have to keep trying and pushing for equal representation in the art world until we have it!
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is enticement. It’s something that you cant take your eyes off of, that you want and need and don’t want to let go of.
If you were president, what would be your first plan of action? Firstly I would put you as my vice president Cat- and we would go celebrate by eating burgers! Okreally though… whew, that’s such a hard question, I wouldn’t know where to start or what I would prioritize first. I’m pro peace, pro choice, and anti gun- so that would be a starting point…then I try to tackle education… equal opportunity to good education is key to this nation’s future! I heard this fascinating podcast the other day, I would recommend giving it a listen if you can: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with?act=1
What do you want to see for the future of the world?
The Internet is amazing-right?! It allows us access to information around the world. At the same time, it tends to make world-wide issues seem particularly daunting. I have hopes that in the future, first world countries, and we, as privileged individuals, will do more to help the impoverished. I dream of a world with equality, opportunity, fresh water and organic (real) food for everyone! (Did I mention I was a California hippie at heart? 😉 The issue really is- what do you tackle first?! When you consider that many individuals don’t even have clean water, some are living in war torn areas, others are slaves of sex and other horrors… where do you start to try and help? The answer is every day- one day at a time, in doing whatever you can– whether that be composting, donating to foundations that help support clean water likeEvidenceAction.org, using less plastic, voting for peace measures and supporting anti-gun legislation. As we become more global and we gain access to the Internetand podcasts and we are able to travel and be more mobile- I hope that we will also become more empathetic to the less fortunate around the world.
Who are some of your main influences?
Wangetchi Mutu, DADA, musicians like The Knife, Fever Ray, Die Antwoord, Grimes, and nature- the ocean, jungles, and traveling in general!
Since you are always traveling, what are some of your favorite destinations?Hmm.. that’s tricky… I enjoy traveling to places that are very disparate from New York. I was super fortunate to have been able to travel to Penang, Malaysia last year with Urban Nation Museum to paint and loved seeing such diversity and beautiful rich cultures out there. The food was amazing and I met so many wonderful generous people!
What are some of the latest projects you have been working on?
Right now I’m working on some collage based paintings- creating collages inphotoshop then painting them… they’re based out of the floral and figurative work I’ve been doing, incorporating the tropical plants, fashion and figurative work.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Oof- that’s a hard one. Pretty soon I’ll be putting out some more bus shelter Ad replacements and next month I’m headed to Iceland to paint a big wall in collaboration with Urban Nation Museum and Icelandic Airwaves… then Miami for Art Basel in December then LA this winter! So –more studio paintings, more large legal walls, and more street Ad Takeovers! 🙂
Your favorite song right now?
The weekend- Can’t feel my face. It’s so catchy!! haha
3 things you could not live without?
My girlfriends + fam
Thanks Cat! Love you girl!!!
HERE’S SOME EXTRA BFF PHOTOS <333
Interview and intro by Cat King