Creative Contributor: Joelle Avelino

by Melanie Gasmen-Fleck

A little about Joelle:

Joelle Avelino is a Congolese and Angolan London-based artist who works with both traditional and digital methods of drawing and painting. She is greatly inspired by phenomenal women, everyday life, and her African heritage. Having grown up in the UK, she aims to bring these two worlds together through her work.

What got you interested in art? How did you get started?

I’ve always done an art discipline throughout my education life, right up to university. When I was young, I remember just locking myself away in my room and drawing my favorite artist from magazine posters whilst listening to music. It’s always been my escape.

I didn’t decide to actually pursue a creative career until around 5 years ago, as I just never had the confidence. I just started to post my work on Instagram. And over the years, I started getting commissions here and there until now, where I am able to work on larger projects and do this full time.

What is your favorite medium to create in?

I love acrylic paint. However, having now moved to mainly digital, I always work in Photoshop. Where I can, especially for children’s work, I always try to work with brushes that give you texture that you can achieve from hand-painted work.

What is one of your favorite projects that you've done?

Oh, there have been many—I can’t think of just one. My recent project with Elle USA celebrating Black innovators in the beauty industry, last year’s project with the Malala Fund celebrating International Women’s Day, and of course, this one with Bravery, as I just love Ella Fitzgerald and was thrilled when I was asked to do the cover illustration!

Ella Fitzgerald Artwork

What do you love most about what you do?

I get to work on different subject matters. I could have a brief about something covering history to politics to music. I learn so much as I go along.

What's something hard about what you do?

I would say balancing being a mum and work, especially working from home. When it’s time to shut off, I find myself running to my sketchbook sometimes when ideas start to flow. Art is just a part of me. Also trying not to work on weekends! 

Ella Fitzgerald Artwork

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

I wanted to be a dancer, then a nurse.

Talk us through your process for creating the cover for the Ella Fitzgerald issue.

I always start all projects away from the computer. So I put pen to paper and started brainstorming keywords/objects, anything associated with Ella, her music, the era she’s from, etc. I then went online and started gathering images of Ella and other things from my brainstorm—instruments, etc. I then sketched away. I tend to work pretty intuitively, so at this stage, I just let my creativity flow. Once I got the sketch I was happy with and approved, I then moved onto colour. Then voilà.