#021 – Humour; an illustrator’s antidote to sadness and misfortune

I‘m Lena Freidman, a twenty-six years-old graphic design and animation student, from tiny Israel! I was born in Belarus, and immigrated with my family to Israel when I was about four years-old.

It’s hard to say when I developed a love for drawing and illustrating. As an only child in a family consisting mainly of engineers (bar one accountant), the struggle was real for me. I remember my Mom was always supportive, sending me to drawing lessons and similar sessions. After finishing my army service at the age of twenty (yes, it’s mandatory) and choosing to study graphic design, I realised it was never considered as a real option here. It took me a full two years to understand that I didn’t want to study anything else. Only then, it felt real and extremely fulfilling.

So here I am. I’m now in the middle of my last semester at WIZO Academy of Design and Education in Haifa, Israel. I’m working on my final project – a short animation, co-created alongside my great working partner Gaia Ratner. I also manage to work as a freelancer here and there, and run a small satirical greeting cards and stickers business.

My main inspiration in creating is basically my life. I’m one of those people that everything happens to. All of my belongings constantly break, I fall ALL of the time, I break bones, computers and tablets. I’m bascially a walking disaster. Clumsy to say the least. Instead of crying or dwelling upon it, I adopt different methods and mindsets in dealing with life’s events. Humour; I find it to be my strong side. I try to use humour in every project I get my eager and persistent hands on.

Humour, satire and sarcasm are a great tools for illustrators. I use humour to point something out, to make the viewer notice something he or she didn’t see before, or to depict sad or serious issues in a different light.


I try to use humour in every project I get my eager and persistent hands on.

Take this short comic-strip shown above as an example. This is a story about Bruno, my blind (and apparently quite stupid) cat, who decided it’s a good idea to run away for three days. As painful and tragic those days were for me, the comic-strip is quite the opposite. Instead of showing things as grey, hopeless and bleak, I decided to give the events a different angle. The reality is still there – every pet owner will identify with the feeling of losing your loved furry creature. However, the situation (in some ways) is also funny, silly and sweet. I think this is a great way to process feelings.

Coming from graphic design, colors gain an extra meaning for me. Consequently, I use a small color palette in my illustrations. I think just picking the correct colors takes around a third of the whole duration of the project. Then planning, I usually start with a sketchbook, transfer it to photoshop, and work from there. Photoshop is my main illustration tool for now, but every few months I pick up a new technique or tool and stick with it for a while. This past several months for example, I’ve used mostly pro-markers.

I’m a very messy person, and so is my workflow. I would say this is my main disadvantage. I’m stubborn as hell, and it’s hard for me to let go of old habits. This results in every project of mine taking much longer to finish than anticipated. It doesn’t mean I’m late with my schedule and deadlines; it just means I don’t get to sleep too often.


…it’s hard for me to let go of old habits.

If there’s any advice I can give you dear readers, it’s just to trust yourself, in illustration, design, and everything else. Don’t try to be something you are not – you will end up frustrated and sad. You are your own best tool – use it!

Be sure to explore more of Lena’s illustrations, animations and projects:
lena.lenkapenka  /LenaFreidman /lena.freidman Lena Freidman
Lena Freidman