We interview our very first designer Alexandra Levene on her goals, inspirations and how the hell she fits this art into her already busy schedule. Read on to find out.
Hi Alex and welcome to the designer collections. We are super happy to have you on board. We were drawn in when we saw your artwork and loved the links to poetry and music, but are especially fond of the digital injection of colour you like to implement. What inspires you to create your art and what techniques do you use to finish them in the way you do?
I draw because I really enjoy drawing. It sorts my busy head out. It creates a happy stillness. I’m at my best with a sharp pencil or a fine liner and then I scan them into photoshop to touch up /add stuff in. I’m still learning the digital stuff. I did a fashion degree many years ago and the digital side of stuff was only just starting up. I know it would be a very different degree now. I want to get better at this stuff. I still sometimes feel intimated by this software and I’d like to overcome that.
Having 2 children, it must be difficult to find the time. How do you fit it the artwork and how do the kids motivate you to create?
Having kids has been the biggest obstacle with all this. Every good parent knows that you give your entire being over when the kids are young. You lose yourself, don’t you? But if you don’t feed that part of you that needs something, it doesn’t go away - it gets more hungry and it starts eating away in negative ways. So I had to address that. I had to physically carve out time for myself. Evenings and weekends weren’t happening for me. I was exhausted which isn’t conducive to creativity. I went part-time at work and I paid for extra childcare so I had space in the day to start drawing again when I wasn’t as tired. And it’s working. Treating it like a job that you’ve got to show up for, really helped me. The kids don’t directly motivate me to create but I guess my situation ( I’m a single parent) has triggered some of my work.
Have you always been creative? When did you start drawing and creating art?
I think so yes. Although I’m not sure what that really means ‘Being creative’ - Have I always enjoyed drawing? Yes. But have I regularly drawn/created’? No. I think it can take time to understand how your ‘creative’ drive manifests itself. And that’s when people are truly great at what they do- when they can understand both of those things.
I remember buzzing off being told by my art teacher in school that I was ace at life drawing and then my mum being super proud of my work and framing some of it. I remember searching for more of the same responses after that. Still am I guess.
Where do you see your art career in a few years?
I want to make a living out of doing solely this. I want to give up my part job (work with autistic kids in a special needs school) and be an illustrator. I’d like to design fabric and wallpaper. I’d like to get work in magazines. I’d like to collaborate with people. A friend of mine has started making pottery - and is fu@king awesome at it. I’m going to push to work with her and maybe design some tiles. When you get going with this stuff there are endless possibilities.
Which artists inspire you most and do you have a favourite classic?
Egon Schiele. Julie Verhoeven. David Hockney. Andy Warhol as a character, I read recently that he had an issue with speech and because of this huge social anxiety. I love an outsider. I love awkwardness cos that’s what I associate with. I’m tall and can be quite socially awkward. I have definitely had to overcome a lot of stuff to get to where I am now. That is definitely something that feeds into my work. And what draws me to other artists. Being on the periphery looking in.
Our favourite one of your illustrations is Hands Overlap Colour. Can you tell us more about how you came up with this design?
I am surrounded by kids toys in my house and there was a barbie doll left on my desk. The tiny hands appealed to me. So I drew them. And then enjoyed repeating that as a print. I enjoyed the movement that created. I’m a big fan of the poet Yrsa Daley Ward and it reminded me of her words - “Just because you do it /doesn’t mean you always will. /Whether you’re dancing dust /or breathing light /you’re never exactly the same, /twice."
What are you watching on the TV at the moment if anything at all? Do you love a good binge?
Netflix /Amazon has changed the way we watch tv, hasn’t it?! I can’t remember when I last watched ‘normal’ tv. It’s crazy. The series that are around these days are like films. They are superb. Currently obsessed with Maniac - it’s like a Bladerunner / twin peaks / Wes Anderson hybrid. I fell in love with Transparent when it was on. I also have a lot of time for Ru Paul. My son is the worlds biggest dinosaur fan so Jurassic Park is on *a lot* I’ve actually really enjoyed re-watching it. The music is incredible. And Jeff Goldblum? Well. I don’t need to say anything else.
Finally, what do you like about being in the collections at The Underdog Print Shop?
It’s given me the kickstart I needed - to get selling. It’s a big thing putting yourself out there but I’m really enjoying it. It’s nice to be involved in something from the get-go too. I’ve had some great feedback, and the prints look great in real life. It’s good to have the support there too - as the digital stuff is not my strongest point. It’s definitely propelling me to the next thing - I’ve just secured myself a spot at a Christmas market so things are looking good.
You can view all of Alex's Designs here.