As Seen by Her: Illustrator Helena Ravenne Puts a Minimalist Spin on Mental Health and Sexuality

The German artist writes about portraying bodies of all shapes and sizes and confronting anxiety with her pastel colours and minimalist design.

My name is Ravenne Maria Helena Langer. Since people couldn’t pronounce Ravenne and could never tell if I was a girl or a boy, I changed my name to Helena when I was five years old. I’m impressed by the will I had at that age, but now I understand now that life isn’t about fitting into a box, which is why I decided to try going by my two names again.

I was born in Regensburg, Germany. My passion for creating started as a young girl when I’d spend all my free time drawing in my room. I studied design with a focus on illustration and graphic design; as my curiosity about fashion grew, I moved to Hamburg and started working for a fashion agency and later for brands like Acne Studios and Céline. My passion for unique and minimal labels is big but there was no room for creativity in those environments, so I decided to quit my job, finish my degree and do what I really love: be an illustrator and a designer.

Back when I was taking my first steps in illustration, it was all about finding virtual mentors and role models. It’s really awesome to have someone to look up to and learn from: I couldn’t believe that only 3 percent of creative directors are female, which definitely triggered something in me. It’s a topic that is very personal to me: I’ve learned how important it is to have inspiring women to look up to, leading the way in their careers and sharing their experiences in this design field. I started by illustrating 25 talented and strong women, from Frida Kahlo and Paula Scher to personal, unknown role models. I want to empower women of all shapes and sizes through my artwork.

My illustrations are colourful and feminine in a minimalistic way; I try to avoid making my work ‘overdone.’ Simplicity makes me happy; colours, geometric shapes and plants are important features in my work. Many of my illustrations deal with sexuality, female identity and mental health, all which are important topics to me. My work is highly influenced by my love for handmade elements and digital techniques. The best images, however are the ones in our heads.

My inspiration changes from day to day. A good morning gives you a good day—that’s why I love to wake up early and enthusiastic and make myself a cup of coffee from my local roasting house. I feel very inspired by botanical gardens and meditation at the moment. Music also has a huge influence on my work and my closest friends feed my inspiration.

I’m currently working on natural and organic skin care products with a couple of friends, collaborating with Pechuga Tees in Copenhagen and SUN.DAY in London. I’m always looking for opportunities to collaborate—I love meeting creative people, whether it’s for talking or teaming up in projects.

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