In the male-dominated world of graffiti and street art, Elle stands tall as one of the few female artists on the block. Based in Brooklyn, New York, although originally from LA, she began ‘tagging’ her name on city walls, billboards or anywhere else she could get access to. Her increasingly recognizable street art images, done in the studio and then pasted onto surfaces, feature strong women often depicted wearing animals headdresses, with vividly coloured backdrops. “My thing is female empowerment: just because there aren’t women doing it, doesn’t mean we can’t do it,” she says. Last year was a breakthrough one: she had a show in New York with legendary old-school photographer Martha Cooper; her work was featured in the Urban Nation Museum in Berlin; and she was commissioned by Swedish giant IKEA to produce an exclusive artwork poster, sold around the world.
“I got an email from the creative director of IKEA and he knew all about my art. I thought ‘Oh my God’, and phoned my mum, who just thought it was a scam. But they were great to work with, and I loved creating something that affordable and accessible. My mum had to eat her words on that one!”
“I have a live-in studio: there’s a bedroom, a studio and a storage room. Right now I have my silk-screen machine out as I was making T-shirts yesterday, which is really fun. I have a big floral arrangement made out of fake flowers for a photoshoot, there are a few lightboxes lying around, a fire extinguisher full of paint, my IKEA poster, and lots of rolls of paper! I spend all my time in Brooklyn, there’s a lot of young people here, and parks, and water: it’s a great area.”
“Martha Cooper was amazing to work with. She's a living legend, an incredible photographer and a definite inspiration. Martha was photographing graffiti, hip hop, and all sorts of subcultures way before it was a 'cool' thing to do. She a woman who has been breaking the stereotypes of our generations: she has an incredible 'go getter' spirt and a passion for what she does, and that shows through in her work. I admire her very much."