Yelena Bryksenkova (2/4)

Yelena Bryksenkova, “The Breakdown” (2014)

Yelena Bryksenkova is a illustrator from the United States, and her drawings are regularly featured in Flow. This month she’ll be writing about her work and the things that inspire her.

I like being an illustrator because being creative on demand, with a set of imposed limitations, keeps me occupied on a regular basis. Although I try to keep all of my professional work faithful to who I am, there are rarely any grand emotional undercurrents beneath the surface. But my personal work is different. It requires a very special state of mind, produced when a mysterious blend of circumstances comes together on a sleepless night or on a long, solitary walk. The feeling is so rare that If my livelihood depended on being a fine artist alone, I’d be in trouble.

Yelena Bryksenkova, “Ghost” (2012)

I welcome melancholy, I savor moments of deep nostalgia and longing for unknown, sometimes impossible things. I even have a tendency to prolong pain; I cultivated my first real heartbreak for longer than I should have because there was still too much left untouched and unexamined; I wanted to get every last drop of valuable material out of it. Long after it’s gone, I still find myself trying to tap into it every now and then. “Poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility,” wrote Balzac. My most personal work was born of moments like this, not in the throes of deepest heartache but later, observed from a safe distance.

Yelena Bryksenkova, “Country Night” (2011)

Yelena Bryksenkova, “Stranger” (2012)

So I learned to embrace sadness, to keep my eyes and my heart open to those unexpected moments when it might strike, at the sight of a single lit window across the dark street, or after finishing a book in the middle of the night with a sense of being the only person in the universe. The important thing is to welcome that sadness and to use it thoroughly before it disappears  – nothing makes me happier than this.

Until next week,