I first came across Stella’s work on the incredibly cool releases on Steyoyoke and Crossfrontiner Audio was ever curious to discover who was responsible for these creations. When I finally only discovered it was Stella Gelesh, I hunted her down from Instagram to get hold of her cosmic self for an Information Exchange section. This is also the first time I’ve ever interview a graphic artist, I had all these questions about her background, process and inspiration.
Hi Stella, Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from ?
“I am made of star stuff”, as Carl Sagan famously quipped. What I mean is that, just like star dust swirling around cosmos picking up pieces along its route, I danced around the universe, absorbing the cosmic dust of each place on the map I called home. I am both a nomad with no roots and a snail, carrying its house on my back: I arrive, I collect, I absorb, I reflect, I move, I reminisce. That’s who I am’ that’s my raison d’etre.
How did you get into art, did it start with you drawing when you were younger ?
My trouble in life started with art. Or, more precisely, my life in art started with trouble. Literally! when I was young, I snuck into my school at night and covered its walls with graffiti. I wanted people to come in the morning and be dazzled with surprise. Needless to say the school principal was less than dazzled and trouble ensued.
Just like how musician’s have styles, what would you describe your specialty or rather niche as ?
“Please remember: things are not what they seem” said Murakami and neatly summarised my style. As my cosmic dust swirled though Japan and Soviet Union, I’ve absorbed many of the traits of Japanese anime and Soviet psychedelic cartoons: duality, ambiguity, dystopian themes, isolation, inability to communicate, and of course, all the glorious cyborgs, drones, and steampunk machines.
Pick a client or label of your choice and tell us about how you went ahead creating an identity for them ?
That’s easy: Marc Poppcke
of Crossfrontier Audio
Label and Soul Button
were my sherpas into the mysterious world of electronic music. I saw the world through their eyes and immediately began reflecting what I saw and heard on “paper”: Marc’s world was very diverse and colorful, happy at times, ecstatic, and glittering with energy; therefore, I wanted to create an explosion of colors and ideas to reflect that. Soul Button’s world, on the other hand, is more restrained, subdued, mysterious, and slightly anxious, and my covers and logo for Steyoyoke practically drew themselves to visualize what I felt for the music.
How long does each piece of work take, and what assets do each involve ? (Do some of them only ask for the art work, or do you also make variations of that for merchandise, social media, motion graphics ?)
Each work of art in general is a love affair and all affairs move at their own pace: some burn through the sky like a meteorite, and some reach maturity and optimal flavour slowly and deliberately, like a good piece of aged cheese. It’s all about how I feel and all about how my cosmic dust chooses to dance.
What are some of the most important aspects of creating label artwork, according to you ?
Though some labels prefer overly stylised artwork that expresses a very specific and curated aesthetic, I am and always have been that little girl who sneaks in at night to cover school walls with graffiti so that people will have something surprising and wonderful to wake up to. In other words, as the music flows, let the images on the album cover dance with the spirit of the music and envelope the listener into this fantastical world we call electronic music.
What kind of music do you often listen to ? Tell us a current favourite track.
SoundCloud is a holy place for me, It’s also an infinite place, impossible to capture, so I often rely on curators I trust to guide me to the paradise of quality music. For example, New York’s FictionLab crew are amazing at fishing out new and undiscovered good music. My favourite track of the month is from Berlin producer Midas 104 – Wirbelwind. It feels like a fragrant cup of morning tea and I am ready for big achievements whenever I hear this track. The is also how Berlin sounds for me.
Pick 3 of your favourite pieces of art, images, motion graphics or illustrations and also tell us about your sources of inspiration.
Powel – Jungles and Doorbells EP
Powel’s EP on Don’t Sit on the Furniture label sounds like an Indiana Jones adventure transplanted to an urban setting. And, since I live in a concrete jungle called Istanbul, it was very natural to blend my own Istanbul experience with Powel’s music. My Istanbul is a busy noisy asphalt jungle, crowded and dangerous, where people struggle for survival and big fish eats the little fish only to be later eaten by the Big Kebob. My Istanbul is a tiger: roaring, dangerous, and strangely beautiful and one must always be ninja-like and nimble to ride the tiger and avoid being eaten. Connect that to Powel’s adventure, and voila: a cover is born. Listen to the EP here
Yoram – Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal
When I was asked to do a cover for Yoram’s EP, they didn’t even send me the music: just an EP title, which was a street name in Amsterdam. And I immediately connected the title to my own experience of being lost in Amsterdam. Have you ever tried to ask a street name in Dutch? It’s always a funny encounter. Combine that feeling with the absurdity of my favourite Dutch graphic artist, Escher, and again the cover pretty much created itself. Listen to the EP here
Sonic Future – Themes Part VI
Finally, the key to Sonic Future’s sound on Themes Part 3 EP hides in the past. The synth work is dark dreamy and very retro cinematic delicious. As soon I heard it, I felt an eerie connection to the sounds and the visuals of “Stranger Things”, a Netflix series set and scored in the 80s. The cover visual explored that feeling of wondering around in a darkness, with a lone source of light having that a sinister glow that can bring nothing but dread. Listen to the EP here
The Offering – Volume I
Well, I’m also absolutely in love with my last illustration, this album presents producers from around the globe and shows diversity of deep, progressive, melodic house and techno.It
is very fresh and will be released on Anathema records this month. It looks and sounds divine and fairy.
Follow Stella’s work on Stellagelesh.com / Facebook / Instagram