Alice Stevenson - New Artist
We are delighted to welcome Alice Stevenson to the agency. Alice's vibrant colour palette and intricate detailing have been put to great use by clients ranging from Volvo to Vogue. She has created artwork for advertising campaigns, book jackets and magazine articles as well as penning her own beautifully illustrated book 'Ways to Walk in London'. Her whimsical style brings joy to any subject she turns her attention too. We talk to Alice about how her interest in illustration was sparked as a child, her eclectic list of inspirations and how her love of travel influences her work.
Why did you decide to be an illustrator?
I always loved drawing and reading illustrated books. My family aren't artistic but I was brought up in a very creative environment. My dad collects prints of early twentieth century illustration, so it was always a big part of my childhood. When I went to art college in Brighton I decided to do a degree in illustration. After I graduated I started showing my portfolio to potential clients and I have been working ever since. My whole career has been a natural progression really.
You describe your work as an interplay between flat colour and detail, was this something you purposefully decided on or did it develop naturally?
It was never a conscious decision, I have a love of simple graphic art and also illustration with really intricate details. When I started to develop my work into a more commercial style it was my instinct to have that combination, it's that interplay that comes quite naturally to me when I work in my sketchbook, so it has naturally developed from there.
How do you approach your commercial projects?
I tend to start off by analysing the brief and making sure that I have clearly identified all the requirements. I usually start by doodling little thumbnails and ideas; that very initial sketching, that's how I come up with compositions. Hopefully something emerges that I'm happy with and then I'll use that, or a couple of different ideas, as the basis to build the image up in a bit more detail. It depends on the job, sometimes the colours needed are very apparent, either from the brief or I have strong instinct of a colour palette that would work. Other times, I will try lots of different colour combinations and see which works.
Is there a commission that you have worked on that stands out for you?
There are a few really. The Amy's Mobile Kitchen project was great to work on. I love food and cooking and I've always really enjoyed drawing plants and natural forms. Organic forms are what I get the most pleasure out of drawing, so it was really nice to be commissioned to do something where I was asked to make patterns out of vegetables and food related things.
I've also really enjoyed the 'Shop' magazine covers I've produced for Global Blue because they are about travel. The magazine is essentially a luxury shopping guide which talks about different aspects of a city. The most recent edition is about interiors and homeware shopping in London. I've illustrated covers about natural beauty products in Sweden and also one about how tiles influence fashion in Portugal. I really enjoy decorative arts and textiles, so combining that with a sense of place and location was a really fun and interesting process.
I also enjoy working on projects when it's something I wouldn't have thought of drawing. I like it when it's a bit of a challenge, I enjoy that just as much but in a different way. Having to find my own way of interpreting something I'm not familiar with is just as good.
Could you tell us a little bit about your influences?
There are loads. I'm always particularly drawn to 20th century illustrators and designers, as I mentioned before my Dad collects prints of artists like Aubrey Beardsley. I also love Brian Cook, the English illustrator who did a lot of hyper real coloured book covers of different towns and places in the thirties and forties. I love how his work is really figurative and really stylised at the same time. I also love later stuff like the psychedelic illustrations by John Alcorn and Peter Max, those more intricate and decorative pieces really appeal to me. I'm also very influenced by textile designers and people working with crafts and decorative arts at that sort of time. At the moment I'm looking at Gunta Stolzl a lot, who was a Bauhaus weaver; her colour palettes were really beautiful.
I also really love a lot of medieval art, in my studio I have a calendar of illuminated manuscripts, the colour combinations are amazing especially when people had so little access to pigment. Just yesterday I went to an exhibition of Dutch flower paintings from the 17th century, they were really intricate and very inspiring.
So, I'm really not just influenced by one kind of thing, I'm constantly finding inspiration in different places. I think there is a danger as an illustrator to be too influenced by one era and having your work become too retro. I try and keep a wealth of influences so my work isn't too nostalgic from one particular era, this keeps it modern and makes it timeless.
Your book 'Ways to Work in London' is a love song to the capital city, and your portfolio focuses on landscapes. Is there a particular place that really influences you?
There are lots of different places that I really love and that are particularly special to me, all for slightly different reasons. I am naturally very drawn to places that are urban but also have a lot of natural beauty. Because I grew up in London and London is very green, that combination is very interesting to me.
I also spent a lot of my childhood in the Mediterranean. The seaside, landscape and the shape of the buildings and the light of the mediterranean really finds its way into my work quite a lot. I find it very inspiring when nature combines with interesting buildings. At the moment my two favourite cities to visit are San Francisco and Berlin, although they are completely different I like them both because they are places you can really get lost in and there are infinite things to look at and discover.
What are your career aspirations, what would be your dream job?
I'd love to do a mural in a London tube station or an overground station, that would be a dream job. Also, I'd really like to illustrate a really beautiful cookery book, because I love cooking. I'd love to work on a children's book as well. I have worked on a few projects, a cover for Faber and Faber for Carol Ann Duffy's book of poetry and also some nursery rhymes but I'd love to do a narrative kids book. Children's books are looking a lot more sophisticated, they are as contemporary as illustration for adults and I'd love to be involved in that.
Alice is exclusively represented by New Division, Worldwide. Please get in touch if you are interested in commissioning Alice or have any further questions.
To view Alice's full portfolio, please click here.