Elena Øhlander is an illustrator and painter, currently working in Jacksonville, Florida. She attained her BFA in Photography in 2014, exhibiting her work at national galleries and museums. Hear her in episode 94 of The Path to Authenticity. Click here to see examples of her work. Elena’s focus is in illustration that explores identity, gender issues, space, individuality, and pop culture with a Japanese context. Her main influences are Taiyo Matsumoto, Hayao Miyazaki, Yayoi Kusama, and Yoshitomo Nara. 


If your life were a novel, what would be the title?

There’s Enough Noise Going on Up There Already


Where were you born?

Duluth, Minnesota


Where is the place you call home?

Jacksonville, Florida


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I knew very early on that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I may not have known what that was called, but I knew what I wanted to do.


What is your profession?

I am a visual artist working in the medium of mixed media illustration.


What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

I would be very inclined to pursue a career in culinary arts.


What is your favorite quote?

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso


What is your preferred form of creative expression?

mixed-media illustration 


What is your favorite movie, song, and work of art?

Movie: Your Name (Animated Film) directed by Makoto Shinkai, Song: Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins; Work of Art: Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama


Who do you admire most?

My daughter – it sounds cliche. But, because I feel I lost most of my childhood, I get to relive with positive experiences through her eyes. 


Over the course of your life, what is an issue with which you have repeatedly struggled?

I have struggled with overcoming childhood trauma. 


Who is your celebrity crush?

Shephard Fairey 


What historical figure would you most like to meet?

Charles Pierre Baudelaire


What natural gift or ability would you most like to possess?

Savant-status linguistic skills


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

In my lifetime: my daughter; In my career: Pilot Pen Collaboration


What quality do you admire most in a person?

Someone who makes time for self-care


What is something you would like to learn about?



What do you wish more people knew about you?

that I am a good listener, but due to my deep empathy for others, it takes a toll. I lack confidence and neglect myself a lot. I need alone time because it helps me recharge and process.     


What is your idea of success?

finding happiness


What would you like people to say about you when you’re gone?

that I inspired another to find their calling to change the world 



To learn more about Elena, or to purchase her work, visit elenaohlander.com.