South African artist Ellena Lourens creates stunningly eerie illustrations

Cape Town-born, New York-based 19-year-old illustrator Ellena Lourens makes highly detailed drawings using pen, paper and a tablet. There’s a dark and mysterious atmosphere to her pictures, which depict unsettling forms and characters. “Subconsciously I will start by trying to make the picture uncomfortable to me so that I remain interested,” she says.
The world that Ellena creates is strange and suspicious, full of inexplicable scenarios. Sombre characters and slithering serpents feature prominently in her pieces. “I enjoy that snakes are historically symbolic. I am drawn to old and obscure myths and legends. A snake is symbolic of many things, from the self to evil,” she says.

The illustrator explains her process of creating an illustration: “When deciding what to draw, usually I will picture a character or a face and then the surroundings will compose themselves automatically in my mind. Sometimes I start by sketching out the composition and proportions and sometimes I work straight with pen. Once I have started a piece I work almost solidly or in long segments until it is done.”

At the moment she is working as full-time assistant and studio manager to a street artist based in the US and experimenting in mural painting.


Between 10 and 5