Artist Interview with Painter Carrie Alyson

I’m excited to introduce artist Carrie Alyson! You can follow Carrie on Instagram @carrie_alyson and Twitter, and buy her wonderful work on Redbubble!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? 

I’m just an artist approaching her 40s with a lot of wanderlust and a rekindled desire to return to making art into play. I have a creative job (that I love—senior graphic designer for my local Girl Scout Council) so I spend a lot of time looking at art as work. Work that I genuinely enjoy, but work nonetheless, and it bears the sometimes tiring and stressful mindset of “this is something I have to do to be an adult and pay the bills.

I missed doing art for fun. I had kind of forgotten how to do art for fun. Before my current design job, I did a lot of freelance design and illustration while working other full-time jobs. If I was doing art, it was saddled with the baggage of needing to make money on it. I never really made art just for myself anymore, I was always creating for the client or for what I thought my audience wanted. And while I had once thrived in this mindset, it just wasn’t working for me anymore. 


Happily, things changed. I was able to trade up to an in-house design position, with the luxury of a 9-5 schedule and an income that I can modestly live on. I suddenly had free time! To do my own art! But I didn’t, at least not right away, because it still felt like work. I’ve been spending the past couple years figuring out how to experience creativity and art as play again. Learning how to get away from the idea that my art has to make money, or be for someone else to enjoy. I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still a constant battle to keep myself out of the “work” mindset. 

What does your creative thought process look like to create your work? What are your favorite materials to work with?

As part of my current creative journey, I’ve been discovering more about what I like to paint, and what kind of processes and techniques are actually fun for me. I love to play with color palettes and form, so bright flowers and beautiful landscapes have been a great source of inspiration, and I look for scenes with distinctive shapes and colors. I start my paintings very loosely and create large areas of color to map out my composition. I start light and work darker as I start to fill in smaller shapes and define details. And as the final step, I add line work in ink, watercolor, or white gouache. I use the forms as a guide, but I also let my lines travel with the flow of the paint. I love doing detail work and intricate lines, and this method lets me enjoy the process of mark making rather than worrying about where the lines go. It’s as ok to line outside of the colors as it is to color outside of the lines.

Watercolor is my favorite medium because it lends itself so well to creating both big lush, organic strokes and delicate, intricate lines. The portability and easy clean up are also a plus, and I like to carry a little watercolor kit with me in case inspiration strikes.

What has been one of your favorite creative projects or works of art that you’ve made and why?   

Sitka Tidepool” – it is one of the first paintings that I did in this style, and I was really pleased with how it came together. I love the deep, vibrant color palette and the variety of shapes and textures that I got to paint. As a younger artist I was frequently basing the success of a piece on how photo realistic it was, or how closely it matched my reference material. That perfectionism really held me back as an artist, it made me afraid to experiment, I’d get frustrated if I couldn’t meet the impossible expectations I was placing on myself. With this painting, I consciously gave myself permission to just play and have fun with it, and not care if I messed it up. I used my photo reference as inspiration rather than limitation, and as a result, I was really able to lose myself in the joy of painting and creating it. When I look at it, besides enjoying it visually and aesthetically, I remember the experience of painting it.

Do you listen to music while you create? What are your current favorites?  

I’m almost always listening to music, or lately audiobooks and podcasts, while I paint. Some artists that are currently in heavy rotation in my playlists are BOY, Miner, Sara Hartman, Dessa, Mike Doughty, and the Decemberists. I’m a Spotify addict because I listen to everything from the 60s and 70s rock that my parents introduced to me to indie/alternative folk to contemporary pop. I usually like something a little more upbeat when I’m painting, something that makes me feel energized.

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Artist Interview with Essi Kimpimäki from Essi Illustration

I am excited to introduce everyone to Essi Kimpimäki from South-East Finland! Essi’s shop, Essi Illustration, is the perfect place to find colorful art prints and gifts – please feel free to take a look. You can also find Essi’s work on her artist website, and you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Finland?

I am a freelance illustrator, originally from Finland but I’ve been living in Scotland for the past 10 years. Drawing was always my favourite thing to do as a kid, and I can’t remember ever seriously considering of studying anything else than art. To be honest, I never thought I would actually make a living out of it but wanted to give it a go anyway, and so far it has worked out alright!

I moved to Glasgow to study at the Glasgow School of Art, and graduated with a degree in Illustration in 2011. The year after graduating was a bit hard, the difference between the art school and the real world was so drastic, I didn’t really know how to get commissions and how to in general start pursuing a freelance illustrator career. I ended up doing other random jobs, travelling, and eventually even went to study graphic design as I thought it would be easier to find work as a graphic designer. However, studying graphic design made me realize very fast that my passion lies in illustration, and that it really was all I wanted to do. So I dropped out after one year, and started working on my illustration career with a new motivation, and am still on that path!

So many of your pieces seem inspired by faraway places. What is the thought process and creative process like for these?

Yes! It really is one of my all time favourite themes to draw. The world is so full of magical, interesting places and cultures, so many countries that I want to visit – I know I probably won’t be able to see them all in real life, but on some level illustrating them can take me there. It can start from seeing a documentary, a photograph, hearing a song. It can also be a place I’ve visited myself, a feel of a location that I want to remember. I do some research, which can be reading about related topics, and of course looking at a lot of pictures. But I don’t want to replicate existing places exactly the way they are, my goal is to recreate the atmosphere of the location, to hopefully make the viewer be able to imagine how the place would feel (or to take them back there, if they’ve visited).

I do a lot of sketches of existing places, and then try to create my own scene from those. I also pay a lot of attention to colour, as I think every place has its own unique colour palette so getting the colours right can really help you to feel the place.

What has been one of your favorite projects or prints that you’ve worked on?

There’s been a lot of fun ones, but for some reason I’m now thinking about a project I did for my degree show years ago. I did a series of four screenprints called Sacred Animals, in which I looked at different cultures and their relationships with animals, and picked four interesting ones for my project. I had for example the royal white elephant of Thailand, where they are sacred and a symbol of royal power, and all those discovered belong to the king. It was the hectic final year of art school, but I got really into the research and loved reading and finding out more about the different customs and cultures. It combined my two favourite things, making images and learning about different cultures, and I guess that is why it still remains as one of my favourite projects ever. Which actually makes me think that I should do more of those!

Do you listen to music while you create – if so what are some of your current favorite artists or songs?

I usually do like to have something on in the background. But when I’m reading a brief, doing research or trying to solve a problem (composition, colours, whatever), i.e. having to actually use my brain, I might often work in total silence, or just have something very chill and unnoticeable music on. My recent favourite has been this lofi hip hop radio on YouTube, very chill and nondistracting. Too fast or crazy music will make me anxious and unable to concentrate!

Once I’m over the thinking part, I like to listen to podcasts, Radiotopia has some great ones, really love Strangers and Mortified and Criminal, then of course Serial was great as well as S-Town.. and plenty of others! And sometimes I like to watch documentaries or series on Netflix.

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Interview with Russian Artist Anastasia Cherepneva: Inspired By Nature

Today’s interview features Russian artist Anastasia Cherepneva, who lives in Moscow and primarily sells on Redbubble, Shutterstock, and does freelance work for Russian publishers and universities.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your development into a graphic artist and illustrator, and where you draw your inspiration from?

I’m an illustrator and graphic designer. Sometimes I sew, knit or felt toys and make dolls. I like to travel and draw northern nature. I used to draw and create things since my childhood. I attended art school, but later decided to be an engineer. I graduated technical university, but didn’t stop drawing. I can’t imagine my life without creation, so I attended some art courses and now work for different freelance projects connected with education. I draw my inspiration from nature: I like to travel, walk in the forest, visit botanical gardens and observe animals and birds.

 

What does the process look like for creating your nature illustrations?

When it’s possible I prefer to work in the open air, not in studio. I like daylight for watercolor works, so most of my works were made during my travels.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects (or have you, recently)? What have been some of your favorite freelance gigs?

 I’ve just finished big project that I’ve been working on for half a year. It’s a handmade book about travelling to Svalbard (Spitsbergen, Norway) last year. I think some of illustrations from it soon will appear on Redbubble.

What has your experience been like selling on Redbubble? Do you sell your work on any other platforms?

Selling on Redbubble is great thing. It was my dream to make something useful out of my drawings: postcards, bags, pillows, etc.  I’m so happy that I can realize my dream on Redbubble. I also try to sell my work on Pinkbus.ru, a Russian print shop.

Nature painting sticker

Do you listen to music while you create, and if so, what are some of your current favorites songs/artists?

I’m not used to listening to music when I draw, but for inspiration I listen to folk or rock music.
My favourite band is “Orgia Pravednikov“, a Russian folk-rock musical group.

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