Anastassia Elias: Heart for Art

A thing of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Artists like Anastassia Elias make our world come to life. Their ingenuity, resourcefulness and clever outlook allow us to see beyond the norm. Elias pushes artistic boundaries by using often overlooked materials and turning them into masterful artistry. “I often take what others don’t see and turn it into something that everyone can connect to,” she says.

Elias is a Paris-based digital artist, illustrator, and innovative do-it-yourself (DIY) designer, residing in Landerneau, a small town in the western part of France (Brittany) near Brest, who uses precise techniques to inspire free thinking and bring attention to important global issues. Her mediums include painting, paper collages, ink, photos, fiber, drawings, and recycled materials. Thanks to her unique outlook, her artwork has been featured in exhibits all over the world, including the National Museum of Singapore, the Portuguese Film Festival, and in Milan, Italy.

She’s on a Roll

We’ve all heard the phrase, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but Elias knows this all too well. As an artist, illustrator, and digital artist, Elias is always looking at things creatively. But one of her most innovative projects uses an object that we are quick to throw away. Elias’s Rouleaux collection converts ordinary toilet paper rolls into tunnels of art. She has converted several cardboard rolls into a variety of scenes, including the Taj Mahal, trips to the zoo, boxing matches, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, and more. “I have always enjoyed experimenting with things that others find useless,” she says.

Her typical work process involves a pair of manicure scissors, a Stanley knife, glue, tweezers, a few hours, and tons of imagination. She uses brown paper that matches the toilet paper rolls to make figures and shapes. This simple detail makes it seem as if the artwork has come to life within the toilet paper roll.

Another aspect of Elias’s artwork is light. Each creation is paired with the appropriate lighting to give the art a silhouette effect that makes you feel as if you are peering into a different world. In this way, she creates a tunnel to a new dimension with an object that most of us throw away without a second thought. She takes pictures of her toilet roll creations and sells them on her website.

“Many people forget that it’s a toilet paper roll that they are looking into, and truly feel like they are a part of the scene that was created,” she says. “For me, this shows that all the work I put into it is worth it, as art is meant as an escape for the artist and the viewer.”

For the Cause

Because of her originality, Elias’s work has been featured worldwide. But her creativity also caught the eye of WaterAid, an environmental awareness group focused on global water, sanitation, and hygiene. In 2016, she created 10 cityscapes to highlight the importance of sanitation and public health across the globe. According to WaterAid’s research, there are 2.3 billion people all over the world who do not have access to private and safe toilet facilities. The cities she has featured in her work are London, New York City, Dhaka, Bogota, Toronto, Tokyo, Agra, Stockholm, Timbuktu, and Sydney.

The recycled toilet paper roll project accompanied WaterAid’s State of the World’s Toilet Report in 2016 on World Toilet Day. Elias’s art made sure that such an important issue didn’t go down the drain. With her art, she aims to show people the gravity of the problem. Research shows that more than 700 million people live in cities that do not have access to a safe and clean toilet. Among them, 100 million have to do their business out in the open. This results in the spread of diseases mainly through the pollution of water sources. View how Elias created the World Toilet Day artwork…

“There are so many things we take for granted and there are too many things we throw away that could be reused. I decided to combine these two problems for this cause,” she explains. She hopes her art will bring attention and ultimately help change policies in cities where people struggle due to a lack of infrastructure, innovation, and opportunities. The horrific reality is that for 1 in 5 people living in urban centers, they have to substitute pits or buckets for bathrooms or have to use unsanitary bathrooms shared by crowds of people.

Behind the Art

Elias is an artist with a flair for using what is at her disposal. She created a fiber art piece entitled “Deep Breath,” which is a pair of lungs situated at a Parisian garden that received great acclaim. No matter what she uses, it’s clear that her artwork inspires people to see the world differently. Still, she chooses to work with paper most often. She enjoys paper cutting, torn paper collages, and 3D collages.

“I have kilograms of paper at home, just waiting to be cut.” She finds inspiration from the life she lives and those around her. As a trained journalist, she always found the beauty in people and their stories, and her art is a reflection of that, she says. To view her creations visit anastassia-elias.fr.