An Interview with Elley Cam, a Prolific Jerrod Carmichael Artist
While the majority of Fanart February has focused on Bo, today I wanted to take a look at someone near and dear to his heart: His best friend and frequent collaborator Jerrod Carmichael.
Just like Bo, Jerrod blew up in popularity over the last few years and, as such, has new fanart online. One of the most frequent contributors to Jerrod's growing number of art pieces is Elley Cam.
Elley's style of drawing is totally unique in that her figures have a warmth and joy to them not unlike some types of anime. She also incorporates Jerrod's real outfits and projects, such as his masterpiece Rothaniel (and today is the one-year anniversary of the taping!).
I reached out to Elley about her amazing art that always puts a smile on my face when I see it on Reddit, and she was more than willing to explain how and why she is inspired by Jerrod to create her drawings.
Here is my interview with Elley, which has been edited and condensed for clarity purposes.
Bo Burnham Historian: Hi, Elley! Thanks for chatting with me about your fanart.
Elley: It's no problem!
BBH: Great. Can you please provide some details about yourself?
Elley: I live in Michigan. I’m 25 years old, not currently in school at the moment, but I am taking an online Google course in Digital Marketing…if that counts.
BBH: That's cool. I actually work in marketing currently as a copy editor, although I don't know how much advice I can impart as I mainly proofread ads!
When did you get started with your art? Are you formally trained?
Elley: I’ve been drawing ever since I was a child, like around 5. I’m not formally trained, it’s a lot of practice. YouTube tutorials, random art books from Michaels, etc.
My biggest regret was taking a break from art throughout high school because I was told I needed to focus on a career that was “worth it” like Electrical Engineering...according to the adults in my life. I didn’t start taking art seriously again til like…2019-ish.
BBH: Yeah, I'm sure that happens to a lot of creative people. I'm glad you took up art again though! You're very talented.
What are your art influences? Are there any particular artists who inspire you?
Elley: There’s so many, but the first few that come to mind is this artist named “Greywick” on YouTube. The art style is so adorable…they haven’t posted since like 2018 though.
And this other YouTube artist, named “A y e o o p s”...love the way she colors. I could name so many others.
BBH: Those are cute styles!
So when did you become a fan of Jerrod? What was the first drawing of him you made?
Elley: I became a fan of Jerrod last year (2022) when I first watched Rothaniel...the obsession happened overnight.
I’m not a fan of the first drawing I did of him anymore…but it’s still on my IG.
BBH: Oh, I always really liked the drawing of Jerrod in his red shirt with the microphone! I feel like it captures him well, plus the cord extending to the title is just aesthetically pleasing.
What inspires you to draw Jerrod in particular? Do you make fanart of other celebrities?
Elley: I’ve been drawing Jerrod a lot because I do like his look. He’s very cute and handsome…but also, there’s barely ANY fanart of him so I wanted to change that.
And yes, I’ve drawn Tyler, the Creator…Jennette McCurdy…and some YouTubers like Noel Miller.
BBH: That's neat...Jerrod even got his quote about Jeanette's writing placed on her book's front cover!
What is your favorite piece of art you’ve made? Least favorite?
Elley: My favorite is this piece on my Instagram.
And my least favorite piece is this one.
BBH: Very cool! I love how put-together the first woman looks, and the second drawing reminds me of "3005" by Childish Gambino haha.
What mediums do you prefer to use for your art?
Elley: Yes, that music video did inspire it a little.
I’m a digital artist. The app I use is called “Procreate”…I used to use Clip Studio.
I draw traditionally sometimes…mostly for just practice though.
BBH: Yeah, a lot of the artists I've spoken to this month have said they've switched to digital...it's certainly less messy haha.
What’s your favorite Jerrod special and why?
Elley: With him only having three (lol), the choice is pretty easy. Rothaniel is my favorite so far because I relate…heavily.
Family lies and secrets…being insecure with yourself and your sexuality.
Dealing with hypocrites…it’s honestly one of my comfort videos.
BBH: Same! It changed my life and gave me the courage to fully accept my bisexuality and led to me coming out to my parents via email (I'm no longer in contact with them, so I feel for Jerrod on being estranged from his religious mother).
I will always appreciate how vulnerable Jerrod made himself by filming and releasing that very personal special to the world. I'm also so thrilled I made the effort to attend the taping!
Speaking of Rothaniel, I’ve been working on an ongoing series about Jerrod and his clothing choices.
What is your favorite look that he’s worn? Do you think his style has improved since he came out in Rothaniel because he can now be his authentic self?
I personally love the pale yellow suit he wore to the Netflix brunch last May. So stylish and suave!
Elley: I’m slowly getting more into fashion, but I do…shockingly…prefer him in more basic outfits. Like when he’s been seen in just a hoodie and jeans.
However, I do love how he’s experimenting with colors and different fabrics. The Chanel varsity jacket that he wore when Desus Nice interviewed him on the Jimmy Kimmel show was a GREAT choice.
Red is definitely his color in my opinion.
That 3-piece suit was amazing though as well!
BBH: Oh, absolutely! I mean...his red shirt while sitting in the folding chair is now iconic in my opinion. It's giving Richard-Pryor-for-millennials vibes haha!
Bo and Jerrod have collaborated many times in the past and are best friends despite having very different personalities (see their A24 podcast episode).
Why do you think the two mesh so well? What’s your favorite special that they've worked on together? (mine is undoubtedly Rothaniel, but I’m biased haha. 8 is a close second.)
Elley: Please forgive that fact that I don’t know MUCH about Bo, but from what I DO know about him, he seems to be somewhat of an overthinker just like Jerrod appears to be.
They both seem to just ask deep questions in their art. Tackle heavy issues. Mine is also Rothaniel at the moment!
BBH: Glad we're in agreement!
Speaking of podcasts, I sure hope you’ve heard Jerrod play Dungeons & Dragons with Bo, Elsie Fisher of Eighth Grade, and Gillian Jacobs of Community.
If not, please do—it’s incredibly entertaining and was one of the first things I heard Jerrod in (I adore his laidback delivery as Raul!).
Is there any way you’d make a giant bird real estate agent drawing of him (perhaps similar to the video's thumbnail)?
Elley: Haha I definitely will check those out! And maybe Haha.
BBH: One of my favorite pieces of art by you is Jerrod and the phenomenal Christopher Abbott in On the Count of Three (you captured the ugly yellow Hummer perfectly lol).
What did you think of Jerrod’s directorial debut? Do you plan to draw any other scenes from the movie? It was in my list of best movies from last year imo, and I was one of the few to actually see it in theaters…so much fun!
Elley: Thank you! I did enjoy On the Count of Three, but I feel like it could've been better if they had a bigger budget…and re-casted some people. But I think it’s great for his directorial DEBUT.
I plan on maybe drawing the elevator scene...or them on motorbikes at some point…my brain is just kinda scrambled…haha.
BBH: The elevator scene with the lollipops in their mouths? Sounds fun.
What do you think about Jerrod’s penchant for being shirtless recently? Is he just showing off his toned body, or is there something more symbolic about it?
My take is that, like his penchant for removing articles of clothing during comedy sets and interviews, he is demonstrating an unburdening of his past self and a desire to appear to be vulnerable and genuine to his audience.
Elley: That is my assumption as well…but he HAS been working out so it could also be him wanting to show off a bit lol.
BBH: Thanks for confirming my theory. And agreed...he has been working on his body, so why not show it off?
So let’s talk about THE fur coat from the Emmys.
Did you see this (and Bo’s ski mask look) as making light of how serious and self-serving award shows are for Hollywood (similar to Trey Parker and Matt Stone wearing dresses to the Oscars)?
Or were they doing some weird cosplay of Kanye and Diddy? It was Puffy’s coat originally (Public Enemy No. 1, baby!), and the combo made for one of the most memorable ensembles of the night.
Elley: Jerrod honestly shocked me that night…I didn’t even expect him to show up…let alone wear that fur coat.
The responses to Bo in the background were very funny lol.
I love weird/dramatic award show outfits. I assume that was their intention.
BBH: Oh, undoubtedly!
Jerrod also recently hosted the Golden Globes, and you immortalized one of his most stunning outfits of the night.
Was that your favorite of his six ensembles? Will you be tackling any of the others? I’d love to see the Bode beaded vest, personally, but no pressure!
Elley: I will say that outfit was my favorite out of the six. The color of the turtleneck underneath was very pretty!
And I may at least draw your suggestion!
BBH: Thanks for considering it!
Jerrod’s next project is Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things with Emma Stone, Ramy Youssef of Ramy (a show Jerrod is EP on), and Chris Abbott (reunited and it feels so good!).
Do you plan on making art about this film? I’m really excited about it, personally. The cast is certainly intriguing!
Elley: Oh I definitely plan on making fanart when it comes out. Very exciting!
BBH: Awesome. So have you ever seen Jerrod perform live? I’ve been lucky enough to attend three of his comedy sets in the past year, and I am always astounded by how electric and charismatic he is on stage.
Such a fantastic storyteller and performer!
Elley: Unfortunately no, but hopefully he goes on tour…if he comes to Michigan…I’ll most definitely be there! And I’m glad you have positive reviews on his performance!
BBH: I hope he makes a stop in Michigan too for your sake.
Please tell me one fun fact about yourself. Do you have any specific hobbies or interests people don't know about?
Elley: Um, I can’t really think of a fun fact. I'm kind of boring, haha. I have decided that Crows are my favorite bird, and they're pretty interesting to me.
BBH: Crows are cool.
What's your favorite Bo song/special? You can name more than one.
Elley: I'm open to suggestions! I'm only a fan of the few songs I've heard on Tiktok. I still need to see his specials.
BBH: Ooh, a new fan challenge. I'd suggest starting with Make Happy on Netflix. It's his funniest special by far and explains his views on the Internet and social media well.
In terms of songs, I would suggest starting with the video for White Woman's Instagram. It's easy to follow, visually entertaining, and the gut punch in the bridge will help you get used to the emotional whiplash that dominates his works. Enjoy!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Elley: I’m working on my online portfolio/website!
How can fans best support you? Are any of your pieces for sale? And do you have social media that you'd like to plug?
Elley: I do have an Etsy, Ko-fi, Youtube channel…etc., all in the link below! (I’m going to add some prints to my Etsy when my shipping supplies arrive lol)
BBH: That's wonderful to hear, Elley, and I wish you the best of luck with your Etsy shop. Thanks again for doing this!
Elley: Thank you!