Milena Bucholz pays tribute to the biodiversity of Guadaloupe in her nostalgia-infused illustrations

While many of Milena’s works are personal, she also takes on commercial commissions. Recently, she designed the wine label for the Lisbon-based Ladidadi wines, creating a warm yellow and pink label reflecting a sunset. “I wanted the label to illustrate how light, fun and easy this wine was, so it had to have bubbles and it had to be smiley,” she says. Elsewhere, she works on still life where she brushes up on her texture studies and plays with digitally collaging illustrative elements together. When it comes to her process, Milena tends to roughly sketch a layout on paper. Then, she tightens up the sketches until she is satisfied and believes a piece to be visually harmonious and then, she gets to work digitising the composition in Illustrator.
A self-described over thinker, Milena doesn’t like to have a particular message or meaning behind her work, as “it triggered my imposter syndrome,” she says. Instead, she constructs an image by simply seeing where an idea can take her. When an idea gets her excited, she lets it lead the way, which eventually finds its way onto paper. In this way, “I’ve managed to keep creative anxiety at bay,” she explains. Milena’s other inspirations include the work of 1920s French designer E A Seguy as well as Spanish Surrealist painter Maruja Mallo and Guadaloupean poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant. The illustrator likes to keep a copy of his poems by his bedside, “his poems take me back to my summers spent on the island,” she says, “he’s quite a ‘visual’ poet and his writings spark my imagination. Great for escapism.”
As for the future, Milena hopes to make more time for personal works off screen. Currently working with woodless graphite pencils, she’s hoping to create big graphite works which are heavy on the shading and mix the abstract with the realistic, “almost like a collage.” Textile design and more editorial work is also on the cards, but fundamentally, she’s hoping to collaborate with exciting new partners where new challenges eagerly await.

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