Q: What’s your favorite television show?
Currently my favorite television show is Friends. I'm working my way through the series - I'm on season 6 right now. I'm also a big nerd for Lost, Dexter, and all the TV comedies like Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and Modern Family.
Q: Do you have any advice for fighting creative block?
This is something I always struggle with as an artist. I want to be making things constantly, but sometimes it's hard. My best advice is to take time away from the internet. Surfing the web and looking at art blogs can be super inspiring - but it can also get you bogged down with a ton of images and ideas. When you reach the point where you feel like you're going nowhere, switch gears and find another stimulating project. Taking a walk, baking something, or even watching a movie will help free up your mind and make room for fresh ideas.
Q: How and when did you first become interested in art and illustration?
Throughout school (elementary - high school) I was an avid doodler and obsessed with cartoons. I didn't want to go into art as a career until high school when my art teacher convinced me that I should give it a try in college. I started at community college as a design major and wasn't thrilled. It was when I looked at transferring to a real art school that I discovered illustration in all it's glory. It was the perfect middle ground between design and fine art, yet still commercial, which I was drawn to. The rest is history - I just kind of started doing it, graduated, and here I am - lovin' it.
Q: What was your first illustration gig and did it go smoothly?
I got my first big illustration gig right before graduation. It was with a company called Ink Garden that sells print-on-demand cards, invitations, and announcements, etc. The art director found my work on the internet and invited me to submit designs to be featured on their site. At first I was hesitant because the contract was confusing, and It was a larger project. Luckily with the help of a few great MICA professors (shout out to Allan Comport and Jaime Zollars) I was able to overcome that uncertainty and get the job done. It went smoothly, the company was a pleasure to work with, and I still do work for them today!
Q: What has been your favorite Ten Paces swap so far? If you had to add a theme to the line-up, what would it be?
I think my favorite so far has been Harry Potter - just because everyone has so much fun bringing those illustrations to life. I'm hoping to add a Parks and Rec week to the line up - I can't tell you how badly I want to see some Ron Swanson fan art.
Q: What are a few favorite pastimes besides making lovely art?
This may not be surprising to some, but I spend a huge chunk of my free time making art for fun. On the rare occasion I'm not being an art hermit I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing board games, and traveling. I'm also attempting to learn to cook, and improve my sewing skills.
Q: Since you just moved to Minnesota, what is the most inspiring thing about where you live?
Hands down the most inspiring things are my new co-workers at Paper Bicycle. They're all super talented, knowledgeable and ambitious artists. Spending everyday with them is super exciting, and it's the first time since college I've had the opportunity to work in a creative atmosphere. They're passion and worth ethic helps me stay motivated, and is inspiring me to grow as an artist.
Q: What is your favorite piece that you’ve done?
Usually my most recent piece is my favorite - but I really like my cactus/terrarium piece, and I also really like the mixer illustration I did as my submission to UPPERCASE Magazine's Work/Life 2 (which I also did the cover for).
Q: Do you think you’re first illustration jobs came more from promoting yourself or from knowing people and having connections?
I definitely think that networking has been the biggest help in finding illustration jobs. I make sure I constantly put my work out there and connect with other artists and companies if I can. My relationship with Chronicle Books began when I was selected as a finalist for their Children's Book Fellowship. Although ultimately I wasn't chosen I formed a great relationship with the art director I interviewed with, and she was kind enough to offer me a project. I'm now working on my fifth book for Chronicle.
Q: What is your ultimate goal for your illustration career?
I have like a hundred ultimate goals, so I'm not sure which one to share. Ultimately I just want to keep doing what I'm doing.
Q: What is your favorite thing to draw?
I like drawing objects and flowers, and objects surrounded by flowers. I also really like drawing pinecones, and I'd like to think I'm damn good at drawing them.
Q: What is something new you have recently learned?
I'm learning new things all of the time! Thanks to my new job I'm learning some helpful tricks in Illustrator, and hopefully I'll be working on some digital painting soon, too.
Q: How did you get the idea to create ten paces?
Well obviously I can't take all of the credit here - my partner in running this blog, Rachel Dougherty, played a huge role in making this project a reality. Originally I had been talking to Erica Sirotich about swapping sketches between the two of us. She does amazing work and I thought it would be fun to see what her work would look done by my hand, and vice versa. We talked about it a few times, but it just never happened. It was when I moved to Philly with my friend Rachel that the blog really took shape. I had explained to her my ideas about artists swapping sketches to finish one another's work, and I was thrilled when she was totally on board. Rachel and I agreed it would make an awesome blog, and we wanted to involve our friends in the project. We sat down in a coffee shop together and spent hours brainstorming possible names for the project (Illustration Bobsled was a close runner up to Ten Paces) operating guidelines, a list of themes to sketch on. That very night we contacted our friends Isaac Orloff and Erica Sirotich about doing swaps, they agreed, and Ten Paces was born!
Browse through Alyssa's work here!