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Ode to the FAHns: Vibrant Digital Art

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Eleni Brings Depth & Color to Her Creative FAH Art

Sometimes when I look at art, I feel this rise of joy in my heart and just seeing and admiring the art brings me a sense of complete happiness. Well, Eleni’s art does all of this for me. She has a beautiful eye for color, form, and structure. I find her creative work to be incredibly unique and interesting. There is a depth to her art that fills a space with movement and fluidity, which is both engaging and inviting for an audience. My favorite piece of hers is this first one showing Arms drinking gone off milk. This is from FAH's sketch, Start-Ups Vol. 2. Eleni chooses the scene at the end of the sketch, when Arms, the dancer, picks up the glass of bad milk and drinks it. It's a great moment and this piece of art has both a modern and vintage sensibility to it that is captured by framing Arms's image in layers of color. This piece is a true work of art and so enjoyable to examine. Her art is a wonderful addition to the many creative artists in the fahndom. Read on to learn all about how Eleni sees her art, what tools and techniques she uses, and how she presents her work to the world. [This interview was conducted in April 2021.]


Have you always been creating art, even as a young person?

Yes, I've been creative throughout my entire young life. I always liked creating things built up from just your imagination. Dragons, Pokémon and imaginary creatures were my favourite things to draw, even now I really like drawing them, but I tried to expand the amount of subjects of my pencil drawings through the years. Many pencil drawings later, I bought myself a digital drawing tablet (about 5 years ago) and a whole new world opened up for me. And now we are here, still trying to explore the many aspects of the digital art universe.


Did you grow up around art? Is there anyone in your family who is an artist?

I didn't particularly grow up around art, but I always got access to the material I wanted to have to express my creative side. There's also no one in my family who's engaged in art that I know of. So I guess my love for drawing and being creative came from deep within.:)


Are you a trained artist? Did you go to school to study art?

Unfortunately, I didn't follow any form of art lessons. Sometimes I really wish to have had some sort of artistic training, but on the other side it's really nice to see what someone can achieve by exploring their creative side all on their own. I hesitated to go study digital and graphic media after high school but instead I chose for the subject of the human mind. So now the study of psychology is the main thing that's keeping me busy at the moment. ;)


If not, what drew you to or got you into art?

I don't think there was something specific that got me into art. I just always liked having a pencil in my hand and drawing the things my mind was offering me. An environment with an open and positive opinion about my drawings certainly helped me continue doing what I liked to do. So that's something I'm very grateful for. :)


What medium do you prefer to work in when creating your art?

When it comes to drawing with pencil on paper, I don't really have any preferences. When it comes to digital art, I have a lot of preferences. :p As most of the digital artists probably know, there are many programs to give shape to your idea. If you're new to the digital world, it can be frustrating not to know which program or pen tool or file format is best for your creation, but once you've found your way of working, everything becomes much more fun. There are three types of programs I use: two programs for drawing (with a drawing tablet), one for creating vector art* and one program for animating. The programs I use for drawing digitally are SketchBook (free to use for everyone) and Adobe Photoshop CS5. The program I use for vector art is Gravit Designer (also free to use for everyone, I definitely recommend this one). The program I use for animating is OpenToonz (also free for everyone to use). The digital drawing tablet I used to use was a Wacom Intuos CTH-480S-S but five months ago I got a Huion Kamvas 22 Plus as a present, which was a huge step forward for me because of the bigger drawing surface and the 2-in-1 screen.


(* For those who do not really know what this type of art is, it's about creating images with lines, curves and most of the time flat or transitioning colours. Like creating logos and minimalistic art.)


Do you have any favorite artists whose work you admire or find particularly compelling or interesting?

It's hard to pick just a few artists, but I'll give you some names. :) The artist that inspired me the most throughout my FAHnart journey is Petra Eriksson. Her use of colours and balancing of elements in her minimalistic paintings are hypnotizing. So one day I wondered if maybe I could create something like this, something that leans towards her style of creating art, and that inspired me to make this d[hel[h[[rawing. Some other artists I really like are Eupholie and Ice Cream Sandwich for their animations, maskman626 for her GIFs, and cat-meff and TamberElla for their Pokémon fan art but I think the artist that always gets me waiting for a new post (for the past 2 years) is Z-T00N. I really like his/her drawing style and the way he/she gives personality to the characters in his/her comics.


Do any artists influence your own art work?

Most of the time, yes. Before I get into working on my own idea to draw something, I look at drawings of other people to get to know what I want myself for my own drawing. There is so much inspiring art out there. I look for what I find beautiful in certain drawings or paintings and then try to complete my idea of how I want my drawing to look. By analyzing the work of others, I learn a lot about the used techniques, colour combinations, the positioning of elements in a drawing, … Trying out different art styles [helps me to] learn a lot about these things.


When were you first introduced to FAH?

I think it was in 2017 when I first saw a video of them appear on my Facebook homepage. That was the well-known Teaching Computers to Parents video. I thought the video and its concept were really funny and well elaborated but never really paid any further attention to it (despite the fact that the video never left my brain since :p ). The exact same thing happened with the When Irish People Can't Speak Irish video almost two years ago. And as we say in Dutch "derde keer, goede keer" [third time's a charm]* I took a look on their YouTube channel after seeing a third video of FAH pop up on my screen, not knowing the two previously mentioned videos were also created by them. You can imagine the look of surprise on my face when I found out those three videos came from the same people. But what really made me a FAHn was the fact that they do live sketch comedy. Up to that point, I had never ever heard of bringing sketch comedy to people live on a stage and I was immediately addicted to their performances. I was blown away by their chemistry with their audience and I think the moment that got me into binge watching all of their videos on two days was when Hog turned into a 'monster' followed by Arms breaking character in An Irish Intervention. Unfortunately, I've never seen them perform live but one day I'll go and watch a show and hopefully meet them afterwards, that's for sure!


*[Thank you to Ilona for helping with the translation of this Dutch phrase. Check out the FAHn art on her Instagram page.]


Why did you decide to start drawing FAH?

I always liked the idea of expressing your interests in the things you're a fan of through art and then sharing it with fellow fans. That’s the main reason, I think. I also like that there are so many different characters with different personalities and unique characteristics in the FAH Universe and that certainly gives me inspiration to draw.


How do you choose what to create about FAH? What draws you to a particular moment in their work or a sketch?

That can vary from drawing to drawing. Most of the time a random idea to create something pops up in my mind and then I go look for screenshots or clips from their videos to develop my idea. Afterwards I think what drawing style would go well with it. The other times I get an idea is from pictures or screenshots that pass on my screen, which I think have potential to be transformed into a drawing. Pictures that depict the characteristics of a certain character used in their sketches draw my attention the most. (Right now for example I'm thinking about the pencil drawing of "The Snob" I made about four months ago.)


One of the things that I noted about your artwork is the colors that you use – why are you drawn to such deep, rich colors to portray FAH?

I think that’s because bright and vivid colours make the drawings feel more alive for me. It brings out the mood within a drawing even better. For example in the Greüne drawing, I tried to show the tension of a crime series through the use of high contrasts and sharp cold shades of blue. I always like figuring out the underlying logic of the use of colours and making these drawings of FAH have already helped me understand this much more.


Why did you choose these particular pieces to showcase in this interview?

First of all I think it's important to mention that there is a learning process and exploration of the broad artistic world behind every drawing of mine. Almost every drawing has taught me something more about different techniques and the different aspects of an illustration. So the following pieces are drawings I'm very happy about and that have taught me the most this last year.


GREÜNE - SAVING SOPHIE JOHANSEN

(made with Gravit Designer)

This was a vector drawing I was really looking forward to making back then. It was the first time ever I attempted making something like a minimalistic movie poster and to be honest it still is one of my favourite drawings on my Instagram page nowadays. Like most of the vector drawings I make, I take one or more good pictures or screenshots to work on and then trace the outlines of their body, face, facial features, [and] clothes. Afterwards I adjust those outlines a bit so that they look more natural within the drawing. The final step is the colouring of the whole image. This is of course a simplified explanation of how a drawing like this is created. (I think all of the following pieces I talk about are made this way except from the last two pieces.) The most difficult part for me in this particular drawing was the combining of the different shades of blue, but eventually I got there. ;)



MINIMALIST FAH PORTRAITS

(made with Gravit Designer)

This one's a bit similar to the previous drawing only that I dared to use more varying colours in this one and that I depicted facial features for the first time ever in a vector drawing. It's also the first drawing that was inspired by the work of Petra Eriksson. I tried to analyse her unique style of portraying people and tried to let those elements flow into my own drawing. I was and still am very happy with the result and how well the colours in it go together. :)



MICHAEL - THE DRIVING INSTRUCTOR

(made with Gravit Designer)

I have to say that Michael the driving instructor might be one of my favourite characters in the FAH Universe. Although I'm very happy with the drawing I made of him, the process of making it didn't go as smooth as the previous drawings. I had to fiddle a lot with the positioning of the squares in the background to make it look balanced, there were too many non-matching colours in the picture, the text at the sides of the squares never seemed to blend in, … But after a lot of experimenting and pressing Ctrl+Z, I was finally happy with the result and learnt that even when you think your work is doomed and everything was just a waste of time, you'll always be able to make something decent of it after all. It just sometimes takes a lot of time to try out different things and find what works for the drawing and what doesn't. The most important thing I learned after making this is that it's nearly impossible for me to create an illustration with both soft and harsh colours. In this drawing the presence of a fluorescent vest decided for the rest of the picture that the colours would have to be intense as well to make everything look balanced and make the yellow of the reflective vest stand out.



AN ANIMATED MILK ADVERT

(made with OpenToonz)

The making of this fourth piece was a whole new experience for me. It was the very first time ever I tried to make an animated GIF. The clip that inspired me to do this was Hog drinking milk in Competitive Office Lunches. When seeing this clip for the first time I immediately thought that it could've been part of a TV milk advert. It was also the first time I dove into the use of the animation program OpenToonz. The technique used for this animation was rotoscoping. which basically means tracing the outlines of every frame of a video. This makes the animation look more smooth. This small GIF certainly isn't what an animation should be at its finest but I kind of like how low budget it looks. Even the low quality of the GIF itself contributes to that. :p So this 'animated milk advert' was a big achievement within my creative learning progress. That's the story behind this short animation.



THE SNOB AND HIS WINE

A final piece that I'd like to talk about is this pencil drawing of a behind the scenes picture from The Snob sketch. Their facial expressions in the original photo are just priceless and so I decided again to take out my paper and pencil. I always wanted to be able to draw non-realistic faces in unique ways and so I drew a sort of more caricature version of the picture. I first made a sketch of the contours of their bodies and faces and then started to refine the facial features and the rest of the drawing, easy said. I deliberately didn't add colours to the drawing simply because colouring in real life is way harder than colouring on a computer, in my opinion. I was a bit afraid of ruining it by colorizing it and so I left it like this. :p This again was an experiment, a drawing that shows how much I like to experiment with different art styles, a nice note to end my answer to this question I think. :)


How long does it take you to create a piece of FAH art?

The working process usually takes about 4 hours. It very much depends on whether the image in my head of how I want my drawing is clear and detailed or rather vague and open for experimentation. But before I start elaborating my idea, I always think throughout the day of how I would be able to create my future drawing and how I want it to look. I think about what sources I could use, what program, what tools within the program, what colours, … Then when I'm done with all the thinking, I start with my drawing and if everything goes smoothly the way I had it in my head, then it can take up to 4 hours to make (when it's a digital drawing, pencil drawings take about 2 hours to make).


How do these pieces represent you as an artist or show off your artistic skills?

I think the variety in art style of the drawings on my Instagram page can show other people how much I like trying out new stuff when it comes to expressing myself in a creative way. Every day I like to develop my creative skills even more and expand my knowledge about different techniques to visualize things. :)


Has FAH seen your work? What has their reaction been?

Yes, multiple times. :D Occasionally they like new posts and when they comment, it's always very nice. The comment I'm most happy about is the one on the Greüne poster. It was my very first comment from them and I'm still happy knowing that they saw this drawing. This was also the first ever post of mine they gave a like. I remember waking up and not believing my eyes when I saw those notifications from FAH on my phone. :)


What has the reaction been from other people to your work?

Also very positive. Both the people in the FAHnbase and the people in my nearby environment are very supportive and nice when I show them something I've made. I’m very grateful for everyone's feedback and likes on my drawings. So thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart! :)


What advice do you have for someone who is interested in getting into art, digital art, or exploring an artistic skill, but may be nervous about starting?

This answer might get a bit long but I'll try to give you the essence of my advice and opinions. ;) The first thing that comes to mind is to just go for it. My motto on my Instagram page is "Al doende leren" which means "learning by doing" in Dutch. Being prepared for failure really helps you to move forward in your creative learning process. You can try to make something, look atwhether that's what you wanted to make or not, and if not, try to find out what went wrong. That's what I do when I'm not happy with my final result. I do this by searching for drawings of artists that did succeed in depicting those elements that failed in my own drawing. Then I compare what the difference is between those elements in the other drawing and my own drawing. Afterwards I adjust those elements in my drawing or when I don't want to continue adjusting it even further, I keep the information for the next time I make something similar. And that's pretty much how I give my drawing skills an 'update' and go forward in my learning progress, step by step.


A second thing I do is saving all the interesting drawings I come across on the internet. That way I can look back at them later and find inspiration for a next drawing. Seeing the work of others can also motivate you to create something alike and try something new. In the end, every artist had to start somewhere. What can help with this is to look at the progress other artists have made by looking at what their first drawing on their social media is (if that person did not delete it) and then compare that with what their most recent creation is. Even the best artists learn new things every time they create something.


A couple of basic elements you could pay attention to in someone else’s drawing: colour combinations, shading, the positioning of things in an image, the proportion of those things compared to each other, the thickness of the lines (if lines were used), or even the measurements of the paper, canvas or file you're working on (e.g. 50cm by 30cm). When you're just starting your creative journey then I'd say it's good to set an achievable challenge for yourself. Starting too challenging can backfire on your motivation to continue your exploration in the artistic world. When it comes to the start of drawing digitally, I'd really recommend the free programs mentioned above and maybe buying a small drawing tablet. The first one that I bought cost about 50 euros and I (already) had so much fun using it. YouTube tutorials are also very good to get you started with these programs, even nowadays I frequently visit YouTube to find help with certain programs or tools.


And now my final tip: try to find out what is keeping you from starting to be creative and break those barriers. ;) Good luck!


Please provide any other information that you believe is important to understanding your artistry more thoroughly.

If anyone would be interested in seeing even more drawings I made in the past (and sometimes in the present), then here are the names of my other accounts. ;) I have a Pokémon fan account where I posted most of my old work and also some new drawings, Dragoleni (Instagram, DeviantArt), and another Instagram account that I'll be using for posting more random drawings, EDBVR_art (Instagram).


I hope you got to know me a little bit better now and I'd like to thank you very much for having me for this interview. :) Have a wonderful day! Groetjes uit België! [Greetings from Belgium!]*


*[Thank you to Heleen for helping with this Dutch phrase. Check out her Twitter account.]


It's been a lot of fun learning about Eleni's art and her own views about her artistic process. I am very grateful for her taking the time to be so thoughtful and thorough with her very interesting answers to my questions. I especially find her advice to new and beginning artists to be really inspiring and supportive!


I hope readers will check out the other Ode to the FAHns' interviews and read about all the very interesting artists we have in the fahndom. Stay tuned for further interviews, coming soon!






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