gallery by The Editors

The illustrator dreams up buildings and finds beauty in the mundane.

reading time 11 minutes

Elena Boils spends her days finding beauty in the mundane. Describing any of her illustration series in mere words is to sell them short. In her hands, “four illustrations of London infrastructure” turn into a quiet celebration of her home city’s color palette. Boils can make scaffolding(!) appear a thing of beauty, encouraging us to look more carefully next time we pass some. Her surreal drawings of flowers rival actual flowers. And when Boils is not making the mundane beautiful, she is imagining spaces of her own — resplendently weird scultpure gardens, museums and galleries. But don’t take our word for it: Boils was good enough to open up her portfolio for us, and tell us a bit about some of her favorite projects.

Imaginary Buildings

Ideally, Boils says, she would spend 50% of the time in her studio, and the rest researching, looking at art galleries, or just wandering, studying buildings and people. “An object or a building will catch me for a moment and I start to think how could I translate it into my work,” she says. “I take a photo or I sketch it right on the spot. And then I start to reimagining it. First I draw it by hand, which is the hardest part, and then I scan it into the computer, where it becomes a combination of hand-drawn and rendered elements.” Boils’s personal work differs from her commissioned work, because it draws more strongly on imaginary elements. Above, you can see her Holiday Homes and a Sculpture Garden.


“When most people think of London they think of its center,” Boils explains. “I’m more interested in the outskirts , which have a bit more character.” She recently moved back to South London from Oaxaca, Mexico, and made it her personal project to find the beauty in her home city.  This became the series “Londres,” which she started sketching in a night bus. “Most people think of a night bus as kind of a dreadful place, which it can be, but I saw the beauty in it. I was looking at the patterns on the seats and how they interacted with the handlebars.” The series that grew from this exemplifies the subtle humor in Boils’ work, and culminates in the before-mentioned dreamy scaffolding.

Invented Museums and Galleries

Boils’ other strength are her conceptual projects, like the series of Museums she invented. “It started with the idea of a museum of just windows, where people would go to look out of them. Next I thought of a gravity museum, where people go to throw things out the window and just watch them fall.” She added a museum of arrows, lines, and ramps. This inventiveness came in handy when she designed her own art gallery, including the work contained within it.

Surreal still lifes

The young illustrator’s surreal imagination is also well on display in her still lifes. Instead of finding a pot of flowers to sketch, she draws them from an image in her mind’s eye, capturing them as she’d like them to be. Looking over her illustrations, one feels privileged to have a glimpse of her imagination, filled as it is with weird beautiful spaces and objects.

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