Hélène Baum’s illustrations promote happiness by their sheer vitality and vibrancy. Based in Berlin, she’s part French, part German, and has also spent some time in London as a child, making her the poster child of multi-culturalism.
Her diverse background also plays a role in her illustrations. “I think it’s helped me to keep an open mind, to try and look at things from multiple point of views and to get interested by a lot of diverse subjects, as opposed to staying fixed on one topic,” said Baum in an interview with The Klean. “It’s also what has led me to dive into this whole mythology/legends theme,” she notes.
According to Baum, she’s been drawing ever since she could hold a pen. “It’s always been my favorite activity and it was clear very early that I would end up doing something artistic,” she notes. And yet, it took her some time to commit herself to illustration. Having studied graphic design in Lyon, she worked many years as a graphic designer, practicing painting and playing around with Illustrator in the evenings after work.
It was only by the end of 2016, that she finally took the plunge, quit her full-time job, and hoped for the best. In hindsight, she needn’t worry too much. With a growing fanbase online, her artworks have been used in various contexts, from editorial pieces and children’s books to advertising, with clients such as The New York Times, Vox, Penguin Random House, and Women Who Do Stuff.
“My work is based on my perspective and experience,” says Baum, “I’m not sure you can really dissociate them. Although I don’t translate my experiences in images in a literal way.”
Color is key to understanding her imagery. “Color is the most important element of my work and in general,” she stresses. “It has a huge impact on me mentally and physically. Vibrant colors make me happy and it’s quite an obsession really.” Scrolling through her Instagram page will make you happy just as well.