Exploring Fashion & Photography with Elena Illarionova from @helen_marllen

Photo: Elena Illarionova

Anyone who has stumbled upon Elena’s photography was assuredly amazed by its bright, bold and brilliant imagery. Elena is a Russian artist who has developed an expertise in terms of assembling her subjects into the fantastical spaces of her imagination. The process of creating each piece is incredibly fascinating and well-thought out, so much so that questions about it simply came flowing in and Elena answered each one with much patience and dedication.

What is your artistic background?

When I was 13 years old, I graduated from an art school in Ryazan (it’s a small town near Moscow; I live in Moscow now). More recently I received a degree in photography from the British Higher School of Art and Design in 2019. That was the time when I decided to try to do some fashion “art” photos!

Photo: Elena Illarionova

How would you describe your work?

You know, I am 70% a stylist and an art director and only 30% a photographer. I really don’t like the technical part of photography. I like to create an idea or a visual context of shooting photos but it’s still interesting how I can realize it! I just know that I always have the possibility to realize it when the idea is interesting to me. I just think to myself: “Now, I have a new idea and I hope it will be visually amazing!” My job is really not as interesting or silly as you may think. I love creating something new, but it’s really impossible at this time. All we do now is just copy one another… all this meta modern… and bla, bla, bla…

Photo: Elena Illarionova

What/Who would you cite as your main sources of inspiration?

I’m an old-school lover. I like Dutch paintings, Japanese culture, and Russian literature, of course. I believe that most beautiful ideas of mine stem from art, cinema and literature! Tarkovsky’s Solaris and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks are some of my favorite cinematic compositions.

Photo: Elena Illarionova

What kind of textures and colors are you typically attracted to?

I like contrast in my art- red and black, blood & flowers. You can always see something personal in my art! I hope it is very symbolic.

Photo: @helen_marllen on Instagram

What is the most challenging part of creating art?

The most difficult part of art is coming up with an idea or a visual piece. It is a really difficult task! I really think that creating a new idea is virtually impossible; we can only recast, rework the ideas from the past. And perhaps we can also find a new genius who can show us a new road in the future. But when?

Photo: Elena Illarionova

How do you choose the venue?

I always create an idea of the project, and then I try to find a place /models / set design and etc.)

Photo: Elena Illarionova

What does the editing process look like?

I don’t do a lot of retouching because I like the real-life moments at photo shoots, and also because I’m not that good at it. I try to take the perfect pictures at the moment, of course, but sometimes I need to remove unnecessary details.

Photo: Elena Illarionova

What message do you hope to send through your art?

This is the most difficult question. Naturally, sometimes I want to express my pain or despair, sometimes something beautiful and cheerful, but most importantly I always want to create a new little world; something that is somewhere between our world and the world that only exists in my fantasies. All in all, my art always tells the story about my feelings.

Stay connected with Elena’s work by
following her on Instagram




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