Meet the makers: Elena Blanco

Elena Blanco of Dreamy Me Brixton waxes lyrical about her love of drawing and tells us why Brixton reminds her of Barcelona

1. Can you tell us a bit about your Spanish background?
I’m originally from Santander, but I moved to Barcelona when I was young and grew up there. Because of the different languages and strong regionalism in Spain it was like moving to another country. So I’ve always felt a bit rootless – always a foreigner!

2. Is that why you ended up in London?
I came to London 11 years ago to be with my British boyfriend – we now have children! I love London for its open multiculturalness. In Brixton especially, people are open to new things, like the Brixton pound – but you can still see the old Brixton in some of the market stalls. I also love Windrush Square since it was rebuilt – it reminds me of Barcelona!

3. You say in your profile that you draw every day. What is it about drawing that appeals to you?
Drawing is how I understand and communicate things best. It’s an emotional relationship – drawing something somehow makes it mine. It’s a journey of exploration, not just a means of producing something. It’s the same for many artists. I make a point of not carrying a camera, but taking my sketchbook everywhere. I remember trying to draw a giraffe at the zoo while everyone else around me was taking photos!

4. What do you like drawing best?
I like drawing everyday objects, trying to see them in a different way. I also love drawing people, but it can be embarrassing to do it in public! I think I would like to organise a drawing class or club for Makerhood, where we can sit and draw things without embarrassment. Many people say they can’t draw – I would love to help them get over that.

5. So what drew you to illustrating children’s books?
I read books to my kids when they were little, and it took me back to my childhood, so I started to draw. I took a short course on children’s illustrations at City Lit, which gave me lots of ideas. I love the freedom of illustrating kids’ books – you can put in whatever you want! And now I have three picture book projects that I am thinking of publishing as artist’s books, similar to my concertina artist’s colouring books. I’m also working on an ebook of The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, which could be quite interactive – you touch a flower on the screen and it opens up.

6. How did you get involved with Makerhood?
I heard about Makerhood through Locally Sourced, had a look at the website and went to one of the initial meetings. I was excited by the idea of selling, but the main attraction for me is the community – meeting people, attending workshops, learning about different events, setting up a drawing club! It’s a great, great idea, and I’ve met some interesting and very different people.

7. Finally, what’s your favourite place or experience around here?
I love Brockwell Park – the hill, the café, the walled garden. It inspires me a lot, as you can see from some of my illustrations!

You can see Elena’s illustrations of Brockwell Park and other subjects, as well as her popular colouring books, at http://brixton.makerhood.com/dreamy-me-brixton


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