Elana Gabrielle is a multidisciplinary illustrator, maker, and designer of printed textile and paper goods. Her work is influenced by the wild and varied landscapes of the West Coast where she grew up, from misty mountains and foggy beaches to dusty desert valleys. Using cut paper collage, painting, screen printing, and textile design, she weaves the natural world into her creations.
Her handmade goods embody the natural world in both form and function, using sustainable practices and natural fibers, dyes, and inks and a focus on simplicity and attention to detail. Elana’s goods invite mindful interaction with nature both in the home and in the wild, and encourage care for the world around you.
Tell us about your personal story?
I come from a family of artists ~ painters, sculptors, dancers, quilters, and musicians ~ and I grew up surrounded by their hard work and support. My grandmother is a wonderful illustrator and quilter, and I spent so many hours with her as she taught me to sew and draw throughout my childhood. This was an important inspiration in my journey with art, and I went to college to study children’s book illustration. I ended up taking a broadened path through art school and I fell in love with textile design and screen printing. I currently live and work out of my small home that I share with my partner in Portland, Oregon as I continue to develop this tiny biz!
For those of our readers who may not be familiar with your work, how would you describe it to them?
I illustrate, design, and make collections of multifunctional printed textile and paper goods for the body and home. Using natural fibers and sustainable materials, each design is created with form and function in mind. The shapes and colors are inspired by wild landscapes, from foggy beaches to rolling desert dunes, and invite mindful interaction with the natural world both in the home and out in the wild.
What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a fabric designer?
I began to focus on surface and product design during my senior year at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, in the creation of my thesis project of a collection of screen-printed goods. After I graduated, I worked a few odd jobs as I learned as much as I could about small-scale production and the business side of illustration. I focused on creating a few meaningful pieces that I started sharing and selling, and I’ve been continuing to learn and build and shift as I go.
You have collaborated with some well-known brands like Crate & Barrel, can you tell us about that? How did that come together?
While I was still in school, a teacher of mine suggested that we create a list of shops/clients that we would love to work with and to not be afraid to reach out to our “dream” clients. Crate & Kids (The Land of Nod at the time) was on my list, and I reached out to them to share a few pieces that I thought they might like. They ended up buying a design for use as wall art, and I have continued the relationship since then. It’s always a little nerve-wracking reaching out to people, but I figured the worst they could say is no!
What/who currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
So many things, and ever-changing! For me, the biggest inspiration is the natural world. I love to see the changing seasons outside my window, fresh ocean breeze on my skin, dripping moss after a rainstorm, warm rocks baking in the sun by a river. A super small selection of illustrators that I love: Blexbolex, Lindsay Stripling, Sanae Sugimoto, Audrey Helen Weber, Geoff McFetridge, Nathaniel Russell, Joohee Yoon, John Zabawa, Melissa Castrillon…so many more!
What inspires the subject matter of your art that you use on your fabric creations?
For my textile designs, I often choose a specific region, landscape, or plant and animal species to focus on. Sometimes that is the plants that grew in my backyard as a child, sometimes that is a place I visited, and sometimes an endangered species that I want to raise awareness for. I always want my products to be multifunctional, and often that includes educational purposes as well as decorative.
What do you love about what you do?
I love that I get the freedom to experiment and create whatever I want to. I love that as a fairly solitary person I can work alone, yet still collaborate with many wonderful people. I love the friendships and connections I’ve made through selling at markets and fairs and working on creative projects, and I love that I am able to build something so personal that I get to share with others.
What should customers know about your products being sold on Daughters Market?
Each product can be used in many different ways, and I always love to see what new things people come up with. For example, the bandanas can be worn as a face mask, hair accessory or neck scarf, hung as a tapestry, or even used as reusable gift wrap or Furoshiki cloth. Everything is made in small batches and with a whole lot of care and love.
If you were a pattern, what kind of pattern would you be and why?
I would be a non-repeating pattern of loose lines and shapes, probably with some plants :)
What have you been doing for fun while #stayinghome during the Coronavirus?
I’ve been taking a lot of (careful) walks around my neighborhood and seeing all the new blooms of Spring, learning more about herbs and drinking lots of tea, and working on a new collection of pieces!
How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your business?
It was a very sudden and abrupt shift as boutiques and shops shut their doors. Wholesale has been very difficult since then. But I’m working on a few exciting collaborations and focusing on my new collection, which is keeping me inspired and hopeful.
What advice do you have for other female-identified business owners?
Get to know other rad female-identified businesses! I’ve learned so much from other incredible makers and I’ve loved getting to share and learn from each other. Also, collaborate with each other! I’ve found a lot of joy in creating things together- from giveaways, photoshoots, limited edition products; there are so many ways to support one another. In a mostly solitary job, it’s been so nice to find community with other small business owners. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people :)