Ellannah Sadkin is a Cartoon-inspired artist who learned to sit still for her art in her halloween themed home.
How would you explain your work to an alien?
Well, if he speaks English, I’d ask if he’d seen a cartoon. And if he has, I’d tell him to think of all the elements and scenes of that cartoon, and how they work together—but then mess it all up.
Do you like Halloween?
You’ve seen my house. I’m a big fan of horror—not real horror, but fantasy, horror movies and everything to do with halloween. I collect these tiny little villages, a little haunted town—my version of train models. When I’m in the studio, I like listening to ghost stories and true crime—they help put me in a zone. Listening to ghost stories in the background and painting in my studio as the leaves are falling around—it’s my favorite thing ever.
“I look at weird pictures and put them in a folder to get ideas for future works: a picture of a barbie doll with a beard; a kid in this halloween outfit; costumes of conjoined twins.”
What are your other inspirations?
I think I’m kind of a collector. I look at weird pictures and put them in a folder to get ideas for future works: a picture of a barbie doll with a beard; a kid in this halloween outfit; costumes of conjoined twins. I also skated for years. A lot of my art have been informed by skateboard graphics. The first piece I did at school, I copied a game machine with a scary girl on it, and I drew that.
You mentioned that anxiety is something you want to communicate in your work, can you speak more on that?
I made these circular paintings and they represent the mood that I’m in when I'm making work. The process starts with an anxiety—is this going to be good? what if this is a failure? And then you get to this middle ground, when you feel calm and everything is going right. And at the end you feel this relief. I was looking at how the brain functions on CAT scans, and the intricacies of how the neurons connects. I have dyslexia, which means I’ll have a neuron fire that doesn’t reach the point. It misses the spot, and by missing the spot, I get something new. I want to represent that in the painting—that this is actually how creativity looks.
The pressure to keep producing the same things that sell and having to do that for the rest of your life—I can’t do that. You grow out of things, like in fashion you grow out of trends. For your art to keep staying the same is really unnatural.
Who are your favorite artists?
I like Kusama’s work. Her big installation rooms with giant pink polka dots. I like doing funny things as well, with a mixture of comedy. I also like Picasso because I’m attracted to lines in paintings, and that’s why I like cartooning. Their lines are very purposeful. I never went to Art School, so my whole education is drawing cartoon characters. Eventually I got rid of the black line—when you add color I don’t think you need it anymore. I’m focusing on the line from one color to another, and I don’t want to use a black line to separate the colors anymore.
Where do you want to go next?
What I really want to do is installation. I’d really like to take these cartoon images and create movements with them, and go really far into that realm. I have sketchbooks of ideas of how you can walk into one of my paintings—at Red Bull Residency*, I had this bowl that you can swing into people’s faces. Watching people have fun with it make me want the whole room to be like that. Going forward I’m trying to think up ideas of how people can really have fun at the show. *Ellannah Sadkin participated in the 2017 Red Bull House of Art Detroit residency, an experimental, non-commercial arts program dedicated to creating new opportunities for artists and fostering public engagement in art.