A Gift from Us to You with Elly Ayling
Elly Ayling is a queer graphic designer and illustrator based in Ottawa. Soft subjects with punchy palettes are her favourite things to create, so she's usually illustrating nature and pretty girls.
Elly, thank you for being our feature artist this month! For those who aren't familiar with you, do you mind introducing yourself to our community?
Hi all! I’m Elly (also known as Pixelly!) By day, I work in non-profit, helping to advocate for underserved communities and fund grassroots organizations that uplift them. By night, I’m usually illustrating, knitting something weird, or curating TikTok roundups on my Instagram.
Since it's Pride Month, how do you identify your sexuality?
The closest label I’ve found is ✨queer✨. I’m not someone who defines attraction by someone’s identity; their energy and presence are what clicks. If someone has a kind heart, loves art and has a wicked sense of humour, chances are I adore them.
What was your experience like accepting your sexuality?
I knew I was queer from an early age and felt comfortable in it. I was a ten-year-old with a pixie cut and wore boy's clothes— the vibes were there! That said, it took me a long time to allow others to learn what makes me different.
Being raised in the Catholic school system (and being Extremely Online) set me up for a lot of disappointment over the treatment of bi/pan/queer people. The discourse made me feel like I had to choose one part of myself or the other. I refuse to let those opinions confine me.
For June, our monthly intention is Self-Celebration. How do you celebrate yourself?
One New Year’s Eve a few years ago, I promised myself I’d spend the whole year living “shamelessly”—doing what I want without worrying about peoples’ opinions. It’s something I’ve carried on! Celebrate yourself by loving things even if they’re cheesy. Pursue things because they’re what matters to you. For me, that means watching (and tweeting about) bad TV, dressing up for no reason, and letting my silly side show through my art.
What was your process like, creating the pieces we're sharing with our community?
When I create something it’s mostly just to feel the magic of making it. Some people sketch and plan their work, but I usually crank the music and let whatever I make come to me while I’m zoned out. My favourite pieces are usually ones where a subject pops into my head and I give it my all.
What do you hope people feel when they see your work?
I hope they feel joy and a little bit of chaos. I still haven’t nailed down my style yet so I’m all over the map. There’s something lovely about a body of work that isn’t completely streamlined, or organized, or elegant. Our fluidity is what makes us all interesting!
You can connect with Elly via Instagram.
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