Eleni Kalorkoti

Eleni Kalorkoti talks to Dan Berry about ‘zine-a-month’ aversion therapy, good and bad art directors and being a pornographer.

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Dan Berry: This is Make It Then Tell Everybody. I’m Dan Berry. Eleni Kalorkoti and I sat down to talk about doing a zine-a-month as aversion therapy, good and bad art directors and being a pornographer. This is Make It Then Tell Everybody. Eleni Kalorkoti, hello.

Eleni Kalorkoti: Hello Dan Berry.

DB: Hello. Now Eleni, did I pronounce your name right?

EK: You did, well done.

DB: Yes! Excellent.

EK: Did I pronounce yours right?

DB: Yes.

EK: It’s Dan Ber-rie.

DB: Dan Ber-rie. I like it when it’s a contraction, Dan’Berie. That’s the best one. So where’s your name from?

EK: It is Greek Cypriot. My dad is Greek Cypriot, but I was born in Scotland, I’m from Edinburgh.

DB: Ah, that explains the accent.

EK: I’ve never been to Greece, ever.

DB: Oh wow.

EK: I’m very un-Greek, but my name is extremely Greek. It’s very confusing for people.

DB: This is the second Greek Cypriot I’ve had on the show in as many episodes almost.

EK: We’re taking over, it’s a dangerous time.

DB: I know, my eyes have been opened. Very, very wary of you Greek Cypriots now.

EK: We’re secretly very talented.

DB: Oh, it’s no secret. So your talents are drawing and you’re also, let’s say, a pornographer?

EK: Freshly minted pornographer, yes.

DB: Primarily you’re a pornographer, and secondarily an illustrator. (Laughs).

EK: When I’m not drawing filthy pornography I draw, you know, sad looking girls or a house.

DB: You could merge all three things.

EK: Yeah, sad, pornographic girls in a house, that’s totally doable. That’s my next zine, done already.

DB: Alright, neat! So, explain why you’re a pornographer then.

EK: I am a pornographer because of Kaye Blegvad. It’s her fault. She started a small press called Horizontal Press, and she’s been printing small pornographic zines inspired by Tijuana Bibles, which for people who don’t know, are little wallet sized pornographic comics.

DB: Little smutty books.

EK: Little smutty books. I don’t know if they were around before the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s, but they’re definitely from around the ‘30s and ‘40s. They used to feature Hollywood stars in compromising positions.

DB: I remember hearing what’s his name, the guy who drew Superman drew a bunch of them as well.

EK: Oh really? I didn’t know that. That’s fun.

DB: I heard that somewhere. I’m just going to say that that is most likely a rumour, and probably not true. No one sue me.

EK: Allegedly.

DB: Allegedly, there we go, thank you! That’s the word I was looking for. Okay, let’s start from the beginning then, how did you get into drawing then? Is this your only job?

EK: This is my only job, yes. How far back do you want to go? Back into the dawn of time, or skip to…

DB: Skip the good bits. I mean, leave out all the boring stuff. I mean, everyone knows that everyone read Tintin as a kid or something.

EK: I actually didn’t read Tintin. I always find Tintin quite creepy looking, so I’ve never read Tintin. I read Peanuts as a kid, which I think makes me pretty cool.

DB: Right, well it was 33% whichever way. So it was either going to be Tintin and Asterix or Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts. You know, that was the holy trinity.

EK: Peanuts for me. Then I had, which I think is the usual thing of being the one in my class that was better at drawing, and then not very cool, but the cool kids say, ‘Oh wow,’ when they see your drawings.

DB: And it’s like a magic trick.

EK: It’s like a magic trick that they don’t understand, so it’s hard to know whether you’ve chosen the life that you chose because you chose it, or because you’re still seeking that same praise over and over again.

DB: Wow, getting pretty deep pretty quickly!

EK: Pretty deep pretty quick, but I do like it, I think.

DB: (Laughs). ‘It’s kind of good, I guess.’

EK: It’s fine sometimes. On a good day it feels quite nice.

DB: Yeah, I’ll agree with that.

EK: Then I chose illustration because… so after doing first year at Edinburgh College of Art, which is you do a first year where you try everything, I liked the illustration modules, and each department did a presentation trying to sell themselves to you about what it would be like to do their course, and the illustration one, they had Tom Gauld’s sketchbooks and stuff. I hadn’t realised that he’d gone to ECA, and I’d been a fan of his for a few years from seeing his stuff in The Guardian and things, and just the way they described what an illustrator was made sense to who I was and appealed to me more than the other ones. It was like, ‘Oh it’s like that then’

DB: That’s cool.

EK: It seems like the right choice. I couldn’t have done fine art, I would have killed myself long ago. (Laughs).

DB: You know what, I don’t think I’ve got the right head for fine art either. I can appreciate it, but I can’t do it, I don’t think.

EK: Yeah, it’s too much self-examining. The self-examining I go into to make a zine is bad enough, but if you had to do that all the time, it would just be a nightmare. They must just have enormous egos and it’s fine! (Laughs). They’d be like, ‘Wow, there’s more here! I can just delve deeper and deeper into myself, and it’s more and more fascinating material,’ but I can’t do that.

DB: No, I don’t think that sounds appealing to me.

EK: No. It’s nice to have outside input, something else to react to that isn’t from inside yourself.

DB: Yeah, I agree. For me. That’s just… allegedly.

EK: (Laughs). I’m saying allegedly after everything, anything that I say in this. Who know what will come out of my face.

DB: Oh boy. So when did you start making comics and zines and really taking it seriously, I guess?

EK: I didn’t really make any zines for a long time, because I was always waiting for the right, perfect idea to come along, I think. Then I made a couple, and they were fine, and then I got so fed up with myself that I decided to make one zine a month for a whole year. That was not last year, but the year before, I think, to force myself to make one, no matter what, and get past the self-doubt and scouring for the perfect, dream idea, because they don’t exist. They don’t exist, perfect, dream ideas.

DB: So a kind of aversion therapy then.

EK: Yeah. Now I hate zines.

DB: (Laughs). Is that true?

EK: No, it’s not true at all! Now it’s much easier to make one, and I feel way less pressure about starting.

DB: Let’s try and pick this year apart then. Did you find that you struggled towards the beginning of this year of making zines? At what point did it get easier? Wait, wait, wait – I’m assuming it got easier.

EK: (Laughs). Yeah, you’re right, it’s a big assumption.

DB: I know!

EK: When did it get easier? It was the same level of ease or difficulty throughout. The thing that made it more difficult is when I had other work on, and I had less time to get into something. I’m a fairly obsessive person about different things, so each month I would tend to have something else that was the thing that I was into that month, and it would be quite easy to make work that was somehow feeding off of that.

DB: Oh, so you’re taking the things that you’re enthusiastic about, and then enthusing them into a zine?

EK: Yeah, kind of. I had a month where I was obsessed with Sam Shepard plays, and watching Westerns, so I made this cowboy inspired one. Thing like that, where it probably wouldn’t be immediately obvious from an outside perspective that that was where that came from, but something that was like, ‘Oh, I can feed off of this thing that I’ve been obsessing about.’

DB: So with these zines, were you printing and making them yourself, or were you sending them off to a printer to make?

EK: I was sending them off to Inky Little Fingers.

DB: Oh, of course, yes.

EK: Which was fine. It became an expensive enterprise by the end of the year, because I also did subscriptions, where people could subscribe to all of them, and get sent them every month. Given the increasing cost of sending anything to America, or anywhere else in the world, by the end of the year I was losing money on doing them, but it’s paid off, I think, in terms of illustration work that I’ve gotten later, so it’s kind of okay that I spent all my money in the Post Office every month for a year.

DB: (Laughs). When you say it like that. I mean, that raises a really interesting question, because I’ve been thinking about the freelance work that I’ve had, and the jobs that I’ve done, and how I can almost trace them back from other jobs. You can see which job led to which job, and you can almost trace it back to the root job I did that one time, or the root thing that someone saw, that then gave me that job that gave me that job. Can you plot your work in the same way?

EK: Yeah, but it’s only just at the end of last year and the beginning of this year that I’ve had jobs that I was like, ‘Oh, this is because they had seen this zine, and that’s trickled down into this happening.’ I think more overall, just the impact of making so much work in a year let people towards my work in general. So it’s a good thing to do for that as well, just bombard people with your pictures until they’re like, ‘Fine! We’ll hire you! We get a picture!’

DB: Is this a lucky accident, or is this a grand strategy then?

EK: Getting work out of making the zines?

DB: Yeah.

EK: It was a lucky accident, because I didn’t think that that would happen. I did them more out of frustration with myself for not having made more of something that I felt was what I should be doing. I’ve always loved zines and always bought zines since you ordered them out of the back of the NME and sent a pound to someone in Devon, or wherever. So I think I always thought of myself as someone that would be making a lot of them, and then I just found that I had self-doubted myself into not doing it.

DB: Self-doubt seems to be a recurring theme in a lot of illustrators.

EK: It’s too much time to ruminate, as an illustrator. There are no colleagues to talk to, so you’re distracted from yourself. You’re just stuck.

DB: Stuck listening to your own voice. I know that feeling.

EK: Yeah, that stupid voice.

DB: Such a stupid voice. I’m trying to now make my voice sound way more interesting than normal.

EK: I just, sort of, go very deep.

DB: Hi. Hi. Really interesting voice that I like to be alone with.

EK: Resonance.

DB: What am I talking about? So, was this aversion therapy, do a whole bunch of zines your only method for getting past this self-doubt, the reluctance to do stuff, or do you have other tricks for getting yourself to do things?

EK: I don’t think so. I think that’s my only trick.

DB: Just do it.

EK: I would love to come up with some more, because it’s very hard every time, to draw a picture. It’s very hard to start a picture.

DB: Is that the hardest part for you then?

EK: Yeah. Everything else is fine. If I start something the night before, and then I wake up in the morning with something laid out, basically, then I’ll have a great day, and I can get on with it, and it’s totally fine, but if I wake up in the morning and have a blank page to deal with, it’s the worst day ever and nothing happens until 4:30.

DB: That’s strange.

EK: Yeah, I can’t do it. Are you not the same?

DB: No, it makes sense. I have to trick myself into working a few different ways. I have to either work on a piece of paper that’s already been ruined, so I can’t ruin the paper anymore, it’s already ruined, and that frees me up a bit, or I will set myself the task where I’m going to draw this six different ways. I’m going to give it a low horizon, high horizon, think about this, think about that, draw him facing right, draw him facing left. Usually then I’ll get halfway through it, and I’m like, ‘This is stupid, because I know what I should be doing,’ and then that will trick me into doing things.

EK: There’s a good David Fincher quote that I heard recently, which that reminds me of, which is that there’s 100 ways to shoot a scene, but really there’s only two, and one of them is wrong.

DB: (Laughs). Yeah.

EK: Which is a disturbing thought. You go through all the options, and you distil it down, and maybe you’ve made one false move and it didn’t go the way that it should have. So let’s just sit with that for a minute.

DB: Let’s just let that sink in for a second.

EK: Think of all the pictures that you could have… if you’d done it the other way. Ahh.

DB: Great, now I’ve got the doubt, and I’m going to have to spend a year drawing zines or something.

EK: Don’t! Seriously, don’t do it.

DB: Is that your advice for people who want this aversion therapy? Did it work? Should they do it?

EK: Yeah, why not. Let other people suffer. I did it, why can’t they?

DB: So you wouldn’t do it again?

EK: Given that I’m getting more work than I was then, I think it would be impossible now, which is nice.

DB: Pretty good. So successful. Do you have rituals then, that you go through when you start drawing? Do you have to make a cup of tea? My ritual at the moment is, make sure my kids are asleep or somewhere sedated, locked in the garage, in the boot of the car or wherever it is they need to be, where I can actually get the work done. I need to lay out all the stuff I’m going to use. I need to make sure I’ve got a hot, and a cold drink, and depending on my mood, or state of mind, I might need some treats that I use as incentives. Like, ‘Finish this bit, and then you can have a treat.’

EK: Okay. You sound like a lunatic. (Laughs).

DB: I know, but it works. Then I’ve got everything ready and I can start and I’m satisfied.

EK: No, that makes sense.

DB: It is the act of a lunatic.

EK: I think I have different mini… I wouldn’t go so far as to say rituals, because it’s one thing each time, that’s not a ritual. If I have to do work where I have to actually think, like, if I get an editorial thing and my brain actually has to function, and I have to think of ideas, then I probably don’t listen to anything. I probably have a silent room, and read, if it’s an article or letters or whatever, read it two or three times, and then do some work. Then if things are starting to go okay, then I’ll listen to some music with no words, Miles Davis usually. Then once I have an idea and it’s going fine, then I can do what I like, watch films, watch Columbo. Mostly watch Columbo.

DB: Why would you do anything else?

EK: Exactly. Columbo exists. No other options are necessary. So that’s my rituals in terms of background noise, which I think is very important to me. It’s hard to be concise.

DB: When I’m writing or when, like you said, I’ve got to do the thinking stuff, for me that’s the hard part of a project.

EK: It’s very difficult to think.

DB: It really is, and I used to really hate it, and now I find that it’s almost the most enjoyable bit.

EK: Oh really?

DB: Sadistically, yeah.

EK: That’s good. I want to get to that stage.

DB: I really like it, but it is difficult. It’s a bit like the higher levels on Tetris. You know what you’re doing, but it’s more difficult. It’s trickier, if you know what I mean. Did that make any sense?

EK: Does having the obligation of children make your brain work any better, in that you know that you have to think of what you’re going to think of in the time that you have?

DB: Yeah.

EK: Whereas my brain is mushy enough that I’m like, ‘I have no obligations, I can just…’ you know, unless you have a really tight deadline, which is terrifying.

DB: I think having kids and having a busy schedule has… maybe I’m kidding myself, but I think it’s been good for me. I think it’s a bit like having a deadline all the time.

EK: Yeah, exactly.

DB: I think that what it’s done, is it’s trained me to be able to work in short bursts. So I get two times a day when I can do the thinking work, and that’s a couple of hours before bed, and an hour in the morning when I’m driving to work, and an hour in the evening when I’m driving home. I find that if my hands are occupied with something, then I’m better at doing the thinking work, for some reason. I can be fixing a bike or going running or for a walk or driving, as long as my hands are occupied, my brain is then free to think. That seems to have really helped.

EK: That is good. I’m going to have to learn how to drive.

DB: Or fix a bike!

EK: Yeah. Those two things are absent from my life, and that’s why my thinking is so poor.

DB: There we go! (Laughs).

EK: Top tips.

DB: I’m not going to actually release this podcast, I’m just going to compile a book that I’m going to pitch, and it’s going to be How to Have Ideas by Dan Berry.

EK: Oh, Austin Kleon, is that his name? There’s enough blowhard men out there already doing that, you don’t need to add your voice to the cacophony.

DB: I think there’s room for one more!

EK: One more man to tell you how to have ideas, stepping forward.

DB: (Laughs). Here I come, out of the way everybody. Listen to me!

EK: Clear some space.

DB: That’s me. So here’s a dumb question then, where do you get your ideas?

EK: I truly, most of the time, feel as if I do not have any, and I think if anything, my ideas are combinations of different things that I like, that are hopefully put together in a way that is specific to me, and that therefore it seems like it was my idea. (Laughs).

DB: Is this to do with the style then?

EK: Or to do with all of it. To do with what it is, and how it’s presented, I feel, like, everything. I don’t feel like I sit and come up with, and I’m struck with inspiration about some whole new series of things to do. I think I do something because I’m interested in something at that time, and then that leads to something else, and it leads to something else, but I can’t claim to have thought of any of it.

DB: So your ideas are chained together thoughts?

EK: Yeah, or at least when I’m making zines. If I make a zine it tends to be that I’ve thought of some image for some reason, I don’t know why. Maybe that’s what the idea is, but I don’t know. Then there would be a complementary image that comes to mind because of that, and then hopefully after that another complementary image that comes to mind after that. So they tend to be trains of thought in that way. I don’t know.

DB: That makes sense to me.

EK: The ‘ideas fairy’ doesn’t visit very often.

DB: I’ll be honest, I don’t think the ‘ideas fairy’ exists.

EK: Yeah, me neither. I don’t believe in her. I used to. I think I probably used to and would be annoyed that she didn’t visit me, and now I’m like, maybe she visits no one, and everyone’s just getting on with it, and that’s how they’ve made some stuff.

DB: I used to beat myself up a lot, thinking that I should be doing something to make an idea shoot out from the universe and illuminate my head in some way, and it never really happens, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a bolt of lightening idea, eureka moment ever.

EK: The only time I’ve felt like that has happened, they’ve been terrible ideas. Like, they’re not good.

DB: Yeah!

EK: It’s some kind of brain chemistry fuck up. It’s like, here is something, here’s a bolt of euphoria that’s what religious people feel, or something, but it really has no substance and it leads to nothing.

DB: I remember, I had this idea – this is a few years ago now, and I remember thinking, ‘This is amazing. This idea has arrived fully formed. It’s perfect in every way. I know exactly how I’m going to draw it.’ Oh my god, it’s already been done. It’s a book I read a year ago, and it’s been sat in the back of my head for god knows how long, and all of a sudden my brain’s gone, ‘Hey Dan, look what I thought of!’ Oh, thanks brain, thanks. That’s brilliant. I don’t remember that. ‘Don’t look too deeply, it’s fine, it’s fine.’ You stupid brain.

EK: That’s the feeling, especially when doing the quick turn around editorial things, if an idea comes to my mind straightaway from reading a thing, I’m always convinced that it must be someone else’s image that I’ve seen that I’m just remembering. It’s a real problem, because there’s no way of Googling this thing, the person’s like this, and then there’s a shape behind them.

DB: ‘Dear Dr Google, tell me…’ No, I’m always super wary of first ideas.

EK: But then maybe the first idea’s just a trick to lead you to the third idea, which is really the one that you saw somewhere else. There’s no way of…

DB: Don’t do this to me! Now I’m going to be double guessing myself all the time.

EK: If you’re not already then I worship you!

DB: I manage to keep a fairly – what’s the best way to put this? A fairly arrogant approach to myself most days. Brash self-confidence that I pretend to have. It seems to work.

EK: I should do that. That’s how men have ruled the world for so long. If only.

DB: Yep, I’m in line for the throne, clearly. They’re going to say, ‘Dan Berry, you run this podcast. Have a seat on this throne.’ I would like that, I’ll be honest. That would be great. You know, I apologise for my gender, I really do.

EK: That’s fine.

DB: Okay, so you had this idea, it’s a thing with a shape behind it, or whatever it was you said. What are your steps in changing that from a thought into a thing on a piece of paper?

EK: For personal work or commissions? Both?

DB: Is there a difference?

EK: Yes. If I’m being commissioned and have to do sketches and stages of going through art directors and stuff, then there’s a different process of feeling like you have to explain yourself as you go along.

DB: Sort of, prove the idea.

EK: Yeah, which I actually find quite tricky, and makes my brain shut down a bit, I think. It makes me dumb myself down, even though I don’t feel I can… it makes it seem like I think I’m telling my idea to someone stupid, but I don’t think that, but somehow, I don’t know, part of my brain shuts off, which is something I’m trying to get over.

DB: Do one a month for, you know, a year and see how that goes.

EK: (Laughs). So yeah, what am I supposed to be describing? The process of going from ideas to…

DB: …to a thing on paper.

EK: Hopefully if you have a good art director, and you’re being commissioned and they see your sketches, and hopefully they’ll lead you in the right direction, which I have to say tends to only be true of American art directors, for some reason. All the ones I’ve had from over there, they always seem to generally have good, creative inputs that generally leads you towards a better picture, rather than, ‘Here’s a way that your picture could be simpler and stupider.’

DB: Simpler and stupider.

EK: Which is sometimes the case with art directors over here. I don’t want to ruin my career by bad mouthing every single British art director in one fell swoop.

DB: No, of course not.

EK: But I think it tends to seem like they’re playing it safer, and they’re not interested in pushing an image to be the most interesting, unexpected thing it could be. They’re interested in having the thing that they already thought of, but making you draw it.

DB: Oh, okay. So you get more artistic license with US art directors then.

EK: Not necessarily in a, ‘You just go off and do whatever you want,’ way, but in a, ‘We’ll collaborate together and find the most interesting way of showing what you’re trying to show.’

DB: That sounds neat.

EK: I don’t know, that’s just my experience. Working with them, they’ll send input and I was like, ‘Ah, they’re putting their oar in, they’re going to ruin everything,’ and then I do what they say and like, ‘Oh, it genuinely is a lot better. Okay.’ It’s happened enough times that I think it’s true.

DB: Well, we live, we learn.

EK: That was my art director rant that no one asked for, but that I did anyway.

DB: No, that’s been bubbling under the surface for some time I imagine. (Laughs). So, you mentioned that it may be slightly different if you’re working for yourself then?

EK: Yeah, if I’m doing personal work I tend to usually start with very rough drawings in my sketchbook, in a very doodley – like, my sketchbooks are not works of art in any way. If I do a doodle that I instantly am like, ‘Oh, that’s a good one, I like that,’ then I’ll tend to just go straight to getting a piece of nice, proper paper out, and drawing it out. I tend to draw something out in pencil, and then rub bits out and do it again, and rub bits out and do it again, rather than drawing like I think Matthew the Horse, Matthew Hodson draws loads of different versions, very quickly of the same thing and picks which ones he likes, which is the opposite of what I do. I wish I did it his way, his work is so much nicer. I’ll go over the same pencil drawing again and again until I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve got it right.’ Then I generally work in ink washes, so then I would just ink that.

DB: You’ve got a very precise, geometric, kind of, way of working.

EK: Yeah, it’s boring, isn’t it?

DB: No, no the opposite! It’s fascinating. I think that if there was a spectrum of people using ink washes, I think you might be on one end of the spectrum, and I might be on the other.

EK: That’s probably very true. Yes, you and Becca Tobin or someone would be, like, you and your crazy wibbly lines.

DB: Just splashing it all over the place! Getting all loosey-goosey with it.

EK: Why go wobbly when you’re rigid, utterly, utterly rigid? (Laughs).

DB: I’m jealous of that.

EK: I’m jealous of you, so there we go. There must be a middle ground where we can meet and be friends.

DB: It’s boring, boring, lame, magnolia (ph 30.00) in the middle somewhere.

EK: Exactly. People just dream of that!.

DB: (Laughs). So how did this precision develop in your work then? Was it something that you always thought, ‘I love being precise,’ or did you do something that was quite precise, and it evolved naturally? Where does it come from?

EK: I don’t know where it comes from particularly, except that it maybe comes from a need to feel like I’ve done it right.

DB: Okay.

EK: Yeah.

DB: No, that speaks to me. That’s the voice inside my head that I’m trying to shut up all the time.

EK: I think I should tell it to shut up more, and I do try. Even working in ink was a way of trying to allow more mistakes, or not necessarily mistakes but variation to happen, stuff that I’m not in control of to happen in my work, which I know seems like it’s not true, because I do know that my work seems very, very, very controlled. But I’m gradually trying to wean myself in as many ways as possible, away from controlling everything, because I think it’s definitely a weakness.

DB: But I think that, you know, to any young artists who are listening to this, that might sound utterly unintuitive. It might sound like, ‘No, no, she’s got it the wrong way around. You want to be able to control everything. You don’t want mistakes. If you make mistakes you’ve done it wrong, and if you don’t control it, you are not in control and you’ve done it wrong.’ I can understand that.

EK: I’m the person that thinks that if you’re not in control of it, you’re doing it wrong, and I don’t want to be that person. I want to move on to the next stage, which is I can work with mistakes, and allow them to exist. Not even mistakes, but just be freer to see where things go, rather than having to know how it’s going to go from the start.

DB: Embracing the chaos.

EK: Embrace the chaos, yes. It’s hard though, isn’t it? Life is enough chaos already.

DB: We keep getting do deep, so quickly.

EK: Sorry.

DB: No, it’s good. It’s fine.

EK: Greek and Scottish, it’s a dark combo, you know?

DB: (Laughs). But such good food!

EK: Yeah, haggis and moussaka? I don’t know.

DB: I’d eat it.

EK: Yeah, me too.

DB: It does sound really good actually.

EK: Haggis and melty cheese, it would by excellent. I don’t know why I’ve not even tried making it before. I’m definitely going to do it.

DB: Hang up. Listeners, just press pause. Go on a culinary adventure, report back, and let us know on Twitter how it went.

EK: I can’t wait to see the photos.

DB: So you’ve done a pencil drawing on some nice paper. Do you lay down an ink wash directly on top of the pencil lines then?

EK: Yes, I do. If the pencil’s gotten too dark, I’ll lightly rub it out so you can only just see it, so it tends to be pretty invisible. I use very light pencils and very dark ink, so it tends to vanish. I don’t have a good lightbox so I’m very restrained. Sad story.

DB: If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

EK: Yeah, it seems okay. I don’t know how other people do… but this is what your show is really, a survey of how everyone does the thing that they do.

DB: I’m going to compile the results and…

EK: …and get back to everyone. ‘The best way to do it is…’

DB: Yeah!

EK: You found out 99% of the people were being really stupid.

DB: It’s actually a lightbox! (Laughs). The Make It Then Tell Everybody survey. Oh boy. You just horrified me with how big that would be. So did you have particular – I’m going to use the word ‘magic tools’. Do you know what I mean? You’ve got these very, very special pens, pencils, brushes that are the ones that give you the best results, and all the rest of the tools that you’ve ever used can just sit on a pin?

EK: I’ve recently started to. So I used to draw something in pencil, I like to use between an H and a 2H, something like that, which I know is a very hard pencil perhaps. Not the top pick of most illustrators, but I enjoy it. The paper that I use for ink is Arches Aquarelle Watercolour, Hot Pressed paper, which is expensive but very nice. I use Winsor & Newton Cotman brushes, which I order from a place on eBay, which is based in Glasgow, and every time I’ve ordered even a single brush from them, they send little wrapped Haribo sweets with it.

DB: Sold!

EK: Because that’s what Glasgow people do.

DB: I’m in. I love that.

EK: It’s kept me going back. It’s a good marketing game. I should do it with my zines.

DB: You said I sounded like a lunatic when I set up my thing, and I do this, and I have a little bag of treats. You do the same!

EK: This is shopping, this is different.

DB: Oh, okay. I apologise.

EK: Then I use Winsor & Newton black ink, and I’ve been meaning to get my Winsor & Newton coloured inks out, which I do have a tin of somewhere and try drawing some things in colour for once, because I keep drawing them in black and white and doing things in Photoshop to turn them into colour, which is a very roundabout way of avoiding a situation that I’m going to have to get myself into at some point.

DB: I’m interested, how do you affect the black and white artwork in Photoshop then, to make it colourful?

EK: Usually by putting a hard light layer over the top of something, so you have a layer where you’re colouring in colour over the top, but it does get tricky. It gets tricky in terms of colours not showing up right on different… like, it’s a very stupid way of doing it, unless you want it to be just a single colour. It gets fiddly and tricky, and I don’t know how I’ve got myself into this situation where I’m doing it a lot.

DB: Interesting.

EK: Yeah. Or just colourise it, if it’s going to be all one colour.

DB: See, I thought you did it a different way.

EK: Oh, what did you think I did? Something cleverer?

DB: Yeah, basically. (Laughs).

EK: Nope. The stupidest possible way.

DB: No, again, it’s not broken, don’t fix it. What I thought, because what I do when I see someone’s work is I scratch away at it, and try and figure out, ‘What have they been doing, why are they better than me?’ You know. So one of the ways I thought you were doing it was going to the channels palette in Photoshop, which is usually behind the layers, load in all the channels as a selection, which will select all of the white, invert in the selection making a new layer, and then filling that layer with black. So then what you’ve got is just the black stuff on a layer by itself, and then lock in the transparent pixels, and then I thought you were painting on top of it with a colour.

EK: Pfft, you lost me, like, one stage in. (Laughs). No.

DB: Okay.

EK: But that’s probably a better way of doing it, so I’m going to listen back to this very slowly in stages, and try that, and go like, ‘Oh!’

DB: I’ll email you, it’s fine. No, I didn’t mean to tell you you’re doing it wrong.

EK: Oh no, I know I’m doing it wrong. It’s become clear in my mind that this is not the way to go about things.

DB: (Laughs). Well I hope that helps, I do. I do hope that helps. So what are you working on at the moment?

EK: At the moment I am working on two different magazine commissions, thankfully from America where the art directors are wonderful.

DB: Take that, Brits!

EK: Yeah, losers!

DB: (Laughs). I’ll bleep that bit out.

EK: Please, I want them to know. What else am I doing? I’ve kind of started a new zine by mistake.

DB: (Laughs).

EK: Yeah. A zine of space witches. So about this time last year I did a zine of witches, and it had some space witches in there, and now I’m going to do one just with the space witches, because they seem cooler.

DB: I like it.

EK: And I accidentally started drawing them again, I don’t know why. Also I am in the early stages of working on an experimental animation for an event at the Wellcome Collection, London, which is slightly scary and worrying, because I don’t really know what I’m doing, strictly speaking.

DB: Nice!

EK: Hopefully that will just be fine, and it will all turn out well, and everyone will be happy.

DB: It’ll be great!

EK: I think so.

DB: I’m going to put it out there, I think it’s going to be great.

EK: Yeah, why not have that expectation?

DB: Yeah, just really pile on the pressure. It’s going to be the best! People are going to be walking past the Wellcome Collection dropping to their knees and weeping with how cool this animation is. No pressure.

EK: If any less than that happens, I’ll be disappointed in myself.

DB: So let’s make this happen people, let’s make this happen. Excellent.

EK: Come on London, help me out.

DB: So, do you have a Twitter? Do you have a Tumblr? Do you have a website? What do you want people to do right now?

EK: You can follow me on Twitter, @elenikalorkoti, all one word. Good luck with the spelling.

DB: It’s exactly as it sounds, with Ks not Cs.

EK: With Ks, not Cs, yeah. Ks are cooler than Cs. Everyone knows that.

DB: Miles cooler.

EK: So I’m on Twitter, I’m on Tumblr. How does Tumblr work again? Elenikalorkoti.tumblr.com or tumbler.com slash… it’s one of those ones.

DB: Whichever. I mean, these hip kids will figure it out.

EK: Yeah. I’m on Instagram, the same name as Twitter, @elenikalorkoti.

DB: A total branding experience.

EK: I have a website, elenikalorkoti.com. I own myself, and the experience of me.

DB: (Laughs).

EK: That’s the worst sentence I’ve ever said in my life!

DB: But what a perfect note to end on!

EK: I’m so ashamed!

DB: No, don’t be. Eleni, thank you very much for speaking to me.

EK: Thank you very much for having me. It was fairly pleasant.

DB: Fairly pleasant! (Laughs).

 

Read Transcript by Renée Goulet

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