Interview by Yising Kao, Artwork by Rae Elle
Meet Rae Elle, a talented digital artist based in Houston, TX!
Order or read Galaxy's June issue featuring Deion Smith! All of our profits from issue orders in June will be donated to various Black Lives Matter organizations and we'll send you your donation receipt!: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bail_funds_george_floyd
June 2020 issue: https://www.galaxy-mag.com/product-page/june-2020-deion-smith
What inspired you to start creating art?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, but once I discovered digital art my love for it grew even more. As a traditional artist I always struggled with body parts, so I only drew heads, it was terribly restricting. I kept trying and eventually gave up. About 2 years ago I started watching different artists on YouTube and decided to give digital art a chance and I fell in love. I’ve always loved trying to recreate different characters on my own style, and drawing on my iPad made it much more enjoyable. As a digital artist I don’t have as many issues, granted my proportion still aren’t perfect, but they’re not enlarged either, haha. Another thing that made me want to be an artist was growing up and realizing I knew nothing about black art, artists or art history. Once I started doing research, I shifted my focus to black & afro-centric art. Now, it’s the only type of art I create. I have a very fluid art style and I take pride in that, it’s my own version of non-conformity.
What’s your process like when planning out a piece?
When planning a piece, I usually listen to music. It really allows me to isolate myself and dive deep into my art. The key is listening to music that matches the mood of the piece, it helps me depict emotions better if I think I feel them, crazy right?
Some of my favorite artists are Frank Ocean, Rendezvous At Two, & NoName just to name a few. I enjoy to somber sounds, burn some incents or light a candle and I’m ready. I guess you can say my process focuses on setting the ideal mood for me to create. I have to be comfortable and mentally prepared or it could go in a completely different direction, and not in a good way.
What or who do you pull inspiration from for your artwork?
My inspiration for my everyday pieces come from my imagination and Pinterest board. Those random questions like, “I wonder what I would like as a vampire,” usually ignites the flame right away. For my deeper, more meaningful pieces I pull inspiration from my surroundings, my husband and son, and as much as I hate to mention it, it can’t be avoided, but also the current racial tensions in our country. Being a black woman and the mother of a boy that’s going to be a black man, there are fears. I use those fears to create uplifting and empowering pieces to remind my community that there is always triumph after tragedy.
How do you overcome any challenges you face?
I’m a professional procrastinator, so anytime I get overwhelmed I take a nap. Once I’m awake I can think clearly and focus on what needs to be done. If the nap doesn’t work then I just make a list. I’m super organized so a work flow list is usually how each customer order or important art piece gets done. I list out my drawing phases or the steps involved in getting that task done and I tackle it starting with the smallest most tedious part. Once that’s out of the way, Houston, we have take off! I enjoy challenging pieces, I believe have only turn down an order once in the 12 months I’ve been selling my creations. If there’s something I can’t do, there’s something I can learn to do. Keeping that mindset has made me the Jack of All Trades I am today and I love it!