Sasa Elebea: Creating a positive society through empowering illustrations
Sabrina Brügmann wears many hats – illustrator, studio owner, hand poke tattoo artist – but the Argentinian is the happiest when she is creating art that inspires. For those on social media, Sabrina or as she is known in the art world, Sasa Elebea is well-known for her clean and colourful illustrations that carry empowering messages on feminism, body positivity and diversity, among others.
Ever since the 34-year-old started making art, she wanted to create artwork that inspires and empowers people, and through her vibrant Instagram account with more than 42,000 followers, she is doing just that.
TAL caught up with the artist to learn more about her aspirations, her move to Tel Aviv and finding inspiration in philosophers and thinkers.
Please tell us something about yourself, and when did your interest in art develop?
I was born in Argentina and am 34 years old. I work as an independent illustrator and tattoo artist. My hobbies, other than drawing, include yoga, cooking, going for walks or to the beach and biking.
For as long as I remember, I was fascinated by the world of art and knew the latter would dictate all my life choices! After completing school, I decided to study industrial design, which I loved! Later, Graphic Design and Illustration caught my attention, and I thought to dabble in it for a bit. After I became confident enough with my illustrations, I started sharing my work with the world through a Flickr account I created in 2007.
What prompted you to use your art to spread empowering messages on social media?
I have always wanted to communicate my art to the larger world; maybe even create a positive society that is inspired by my work. In today’s era of social media, text is a powerful medium of communication; I decided to combine it with my art to create pictures that would be both interesting to look at and have an empowering message.
How do you come up with ideas for your art? What is your thought process behind each artwork?
Ideas about the kind of message I would like to showcase keep popping up in my head, and I jot them down. Many things inspire the artwork I create, including the books I am reading, pictures I have seen, photos of myself, or even something I am about to throw! Once I have the image ready, I decide upon the message and start to draw. I upload videos on my Instagram all the time to show how I work.
I use adobe draw and illustrator to do my artwork.
You have also learnt to do hand-poked tattoos. Please tell us about that experience. What prompted you to learn it?
I have been interested in this form of unique tattooing for a long time because it involves creating a deep and meaningful connection with the person being tattooed. I learnt it in Argentina last year, and I think, as an artist, it is an excellent addition to my repertoire of artistic skill sets.
Your art inspires many, whose artwork inspires you?
More than artists, it is the writers and thinkers that have moved me. The works of Krishnamurti, Echart Tolle, and Byung Chul Han have been a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me.
You are an Argentinian illustrator living in Tel Aviv- two different countries with two different cultures. How (if) have the two countries influenced your art?
Moving to a different place or incorporating a new change impacts our whole life, altering our behaviours and inspirations. Similarly, when I moved to Tel Aviv, my art did evolve. However, I would also like to credit my art’s evolution to constant travelling, exploring, meeting people and having newer experiences.
Given the nature of your art, you must be getting many personal messages of gratitude. Has there been any particular message that touched you deeply?
All the messages I get are touching! Every time someone tells me how a particular phrase or an artwork of mine has inspired and empowered them, made an impact in their lives, I feel ecstatic. This positive feedback feeds my ambition and drives me harder to create more and better artwork.
As a freelance artist, what kind of challenges do you face both financially and personally? How do you deal with days when you feel uninspired?
Fortunately, I don’t have many challenges. I am lucky to be able to choose the type of clients I want to work with and usually take on bigger projects than small illustrations. I prefer collaborating with people with a similar value system who understand the way I work and appreciate the effort behind it.
I'm usually over inspired! I have lists of messages on my notes and tons of pictures that I can fall back on. As for the days I don't feel like working, I just go out and enjoy life. I understand and accept that I don’t need to be working all day every day. It is about maintaining a balance.
At a time when social media is filled with picture-perfect models telling us how to look and how to behave, how vital do you think a project like yours is?
Personally, I dont really think that those models are affecting my behavior. I find all humans beautiful and I appreciate the beauty in any form.
However, I do understand that the media perpetuates a standard of beauty that leads to insecurities in people, especially youngsters. I also feel that much of our insecurities are rooted in mean comments made by those closest to us like family or friends.
That's why it's more important to choose whom we keep our lives wisely. Media has some influence, but if you have family, friends and good life partners to encourage and motivate you, then media won’t stand a chance to bring you down.