Featured Artist - Natalie Alexander

  • At Calypso we publish cards by artists from all over the world – tell us where you grew up and where you live and work.
    I am from Yorkshire in the UK, and after university I travelled to Canada on a working holiday where I met my now husband and ended up staying there for 15 years! I have been back in Leeds for 3 years now and I am grateful for the milder winters, although I do miss Canada a lot Too. I wish the two places were closer.

  • What is your work environment like, do you have a home studio? An ocean view? what sort of music do you like to listen to while you work?
    At the moment I am working from home but I used to work in a creative co-working space in the center of Leeds which was amazing and I miss it terribly, it can get quite lonely working by yourself. When I design I listen to either the radio, a podcast or music depending on the mood I’m in, I’ve recently been trying to learn French through an audiobook but this one really requires some concentration. My view out of my window is my back garden which is lovely as I planted lots of climbing roses last year, but my dream would be to have a sea view from my workspace!

  • How is your day structured as a working artist?
    Each of my days is different depending on client jobs or my own work, I have school drop off and then I start my working day around 9 always with a large cup of coffee or 2 (one of my weaknesses). I use the pomodoro technique, working in 25-minute increments which works really well for me, otherwise it’s easy to get lost browsing on pinterest. I spend the first part of my day answering emails and then do my client work or my own card design work. If I’m working on new collections I sit at night with my iPad and doodle about with ideas, I have always been more creative at night but I can’t work late into the evenings like I used to because I have to be up with my children too early. I would love to work from 3pm onwards into night-time, most creatives I have met are like this though, we are night owls!

  • How did you begin your career as an artist?
    I began my career as a graphic designer. First working for a college/university designing all the marketing materials and prospectuses. When I moved to Toronto I began working as a packaging designer for a large book and gift company and loved creating illustrations. Over time I created more and more illustrations for packaging and gift wrap and started doing online classes to progress further, enrolling in screen printing classes and life drawing classes at workshops in Toronto. In 2016 I decided to exhibit at Surtex in New York with a collection of designs and patterns and got a really good response. I specifically loved designing for stationery so I focused on that going forward. I think my background as a graphic designer helped a lot, both in terms of layout and color but also being able to work with templates and guidelines and being able to create brochures and newsletters and all of my own promotional materials.

  • What was your first big success as an artist?
    My first success as an artist was the line of Christmas cards for Indigo in Canada. The cards sold really well and I design for them each year now. One of the designs has been repeated each year so I consider this an achievement.

  • What inspires your work?
    I have a long list of artists and designers I admire but I am also inspired by lots of everyday things. I love looking at interior sites like Rose and Grey and their lovely dusky color palettes. I am forever taking pictures of random things when I’m out and about, intricate metal railings for geometric patterns, lots of different flowers and leaves, I was at the hairdressers last week and she had a lovely collection of hair clips in gorgeous colors so I took a picture, or sometimes if I am at a restaurant and they have a designed menu with unusual typefaces I’ll snap some pictures, people must think I’m quite weird actually, my husband is used to it now though.

  • Are there other artists that inspire you?
    There are lots of artists that inspire me. I love David Hockney, William Morris and Ophelia Pang, Debbie Powell, Klauss Haapaniemi, Marrimekko design, Rose Blake, the list of people I admire is very long.

  • What is your earliest memory of creating art?
    My earliest memory of creating art is with my dad. He is a brilliant artist, though he will never admit that he is. He taught me how to draw and I remember him teaching me how to use watercolor too. I was horse-obsessed as a kid and spent hours and hours in his office drawing horses while he was working, I was never really into painting, just drawing with pencil.

  • What is your favorite medium?
    My favorite medium is pencil, followed by pen, followed by procreate. I create lots of different images and elements by drawing them first, working them up on the iPad and then moving them around on the computer to create a layout. I’m practising my painting though as I always feel the need to keep creating in different ways, truthfully I just hate the mess but I’m trying to work on that!

  • How has your style changed over time?
    I think my style is always changing. A few years ago I was obsessed with finding ‘my style’ and the funny thing is I got really busy and didn’t have time to think about it, and my style just really appeared out of that. I think it’s something that just evolves over time as you get better and or try different techniques and find what works for you. When I look at my overall card collection I have a lot of intricate detail and bright color combinations, but then I have some really typographic and simpler images too but I think they all work together.

  • Of all the cards we publish by you, do you have a favorite?
    My favorite card is the Party Mermaids card , I love creating bright and fun imagery. I created this collection from a trends class that I did with Sabina Radeva where we looked at combining different trends and colors and I really loved creating the images, I think you can tell when someone has enjoyed illustrating something (I hope you can anyway)

  • Click here to see the entire Natalie Alexander collection.