There’s beauty in simplicity. Sometimes the best designs are the ones that make everyday things wonderful and extraordinary. And Sasa Elebea does just that, her patterns and illustrations taking everything from cacti and succulents to ice cream and crystals to new levels of cute. This Argentinian artist – based in Tel Aviv, Israel – has a unique aesthetic that just bleeds fun and whimsy. And after bingeing on a few of her process videos on Instagram where she draws a pattern with a sharpie without sketching it in pencil first, it’s hard not to get inspired by her.
We’ve seriously been diggin’ Sasa Elebea’s Artist Shop, and we think you might too. We talked to Sasa about her move to Tel Aviv, her artistic process and, of course, her Shop. Get to know this amazing human – check out the interview below!
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Tell me about your designs, what you do, and your studio!
So what I do is basically I create fun designs with plenty of colors and I make all kind of products like apparel, stationery, home decor elements, office supplies, because when I surround myself in a beautiful environment it can make a huge impact on my day and and the way I feel, so I love to share that experience with anyone that is looking for the same kind of feeling.
My illustrations are an expression of the way I see the world, I make a lot of characters because I love to see life everywhere, even if it’s an object. I believe that everything around us is alive, it has a soul, and that’s what I reflect on my designs.
Currently I have a home studio, which is super comfortable because I cook a lot (I even make homemade bread!) I can be with my cat that is an amazing company and I manage my time so I can do sports and be outside also. The studio is a room where I have my computers, tablets, photography items, all my products on exhibition and plenty of materials to create new things.
How did your design company get its start?
My company started on 2006, I went to a design festival in Patagonia (that’s one of the most inspiring and peaceful places on earth for me). It was a college trip.
I had the opportunity to see design studios that were creating things that I didn’t know existed (back then the social media was not what it’s nowadays, it was kind of the beginning of the blogs). So I went back home and I started looking at all the flickr accounts and websites, and I decided to create a studio too. I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil so I felt it was a good time to do something with an activity that I enjoy so much.
I was an industrial design student back then so I decided to start learning more about graphic design tools and designing characters just to upload on my flickr account. Before graduating, I started to make workshops at home and participating on design events, painting on the streets and developing some hand-painted products.
After graduating I decided to move to Israel where I started working as an illustrator for websites and apps, and to develop my own brand making products and selling them online.
Your patterns are adorable! What inspires a pattern?
Thanks! I love creating a theme to start a pattern. It can be ice cream, cacti, or mixing themes like ice cream + cacti. Inspiration comes from all around so it’s very important for me to be outside in the city, going to exhibitions, eating nice food, being in nature, riding on my bike, or traveling. I like to take pictures of things that can be good material for an illustration or a nice color palette.
How do you plan out a pattern beforehand?
So basically I start by drawing by hand whatever it comes from my pencil and I accept that. Usually I’m not expecting to see something in particular with a specific shape, because when I plan ahead a lot it doesn’t come as good as the spontaneous ones.
What made you want to open an Artist Shop!
Well I’ve been always a huge fan of Threadless and when I saw the opportunity to see my work being printed on t-shirts made by a really cool company, it was just perfect.
How did you choose what designs to offer in your shop?
I choose what I would like to see on a t-shirt and in the colors and shapes that I think are the best for each design.
In a lot of your videos, you draw directly with a sharpie and the lines looks perfect! Do you prefer sketching your work first or just going for it?
I just go for it and I don’t think too much about it. If I don’t like it it’s fine. I used to be less confident about that when I was a student, and when I started teaching other people I realized that confidence is a tool and it’s all about accepting what we are and what comes out from us. Something I always say to my students or the people I work with is that whatever we do, it’s fine; there is no right way or right shape, it is what it is, and that is perfect always. We just need to enjoy the process and learn to love the result.
What artists inspire you?
I like the bauhaus artists like Moholy Nagy and Kandinsy. All the De Stijl movement in Holland and the Russian Constructivism. That era of the design and art was absolutely expressive and colorful.
On the contemporary scene Andy Rementer, Friends with you, Brosmind, Muxxi, Helen Dardik, Hayao Miyazaki, Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Jeremyville, Hattie Stewart, Donna Wilson, Gemma Correll, Julia Pott, Robin Eisenberg, Miriam Brugmann. My sister is a great artist and a huge inspiration. I love working with her when we are in the same city (she lives in Rio de Janeiro).
You’re from Argentina but based in Tel Aviv – what inspired the move!
I finished my degree and I decided to move to another country. I visited Israel two years before that and I felt something amazing in Jerusalem, it was like I knew I was going to live there and I liked the idea to experience a different culture. So I came 4 years ago and I stayed.
How has the move from Argentina to Tel Aviv influenced your art/creativity?
Moving so far away from my family made me a very independent person, when you are all by yourself you learn a lot about who you really are and you start making you own choices and growing in a different ways than you once expected. Tel Aviv is an amazing city full of young people. There is a “vacation all year” kind of vibe, but at the same time, people work really hard. That’s good for me because I work a lot and I like to be surrounded by people who love what they do and work as hard as I do.
I have a lot of friends here so I go out a lot. I can go to the beach on my bike (it’s the mediterranean sea, so it’s pretty cool). I can come back at night alone and I feel safe, that is not the case back home. So freedom is like a key word for me.
The influence on my work is that it’s becoming more professional and I think that’s because there are a lot of startups and companies here that grow very fast. I had the opportunity of working in Viber and saw how it became huge in a few years. So being surrounded by people that know what they want and go for it, it’s very inspiring.
Maybe a little message to the artists that are thinking about creating their own brand, to just go for it and don’t listen too much about what other people say or think.
There is always a place for new artists; it will never be done.