Alex T Smith illustrator and dog lover
My dear regular readers you will already know about my love of dogs, my sidekick, Stanley, is a well known figure so to meet someone with a passion for small pooches and a talent for illustration I had to find out more! Alex T. Smith is a rare talent, the fusion of quality illustration with life and humour is something not easily achieved and a skill I admire. I got to know Alex through inane chatter about our shared love for small dogs on twitter but was truly astounded at the quality of his drawings and visual story telling when I ventured further than the cute furry creatures he posts photos of (I never do that, honest!). It’s not difficult then to see where Alex gets his inspiration, with 3 cute dogs that have awesome character I imagine that most days are a gift to a story teller as his canine chums provide a plethora of anecdote just waiting to be illustrated. Whilst new and fresh the illustrations Alex T Smith produces have a nostalgic charm making them feel familiar and instantly accessible.
Alex is the brains behind the CLAUDE series of books which if you haven’t already seen you simply must check them out. Claude is a pooch with a love of hats and his accomplice in accidental mischief and adventure, Sir Bobblysock is a crazy character but if you have pets you’ll know just how well a dog can get along with a sock!
Alex’s illustrations are an entity in themselves, for me they are pure joy, the slightest hint of a curl of hair or the superbly observed curve of a woman in a swimsuit. Check out his regular illustrations of current affairs, news stories and general trendy stuff. Illustration creates other worlds, it is not about realism, it is about transporting us to the land of the fantastical and Alex I’m hopping on your bus for the journey to every land you want to take us to.
I spoke with Alex to find out more about his working life
What inspires you?
[blockquote]I think inspiration can be found everywhere. My niece, nephews and godchildren are an endless source of entertainment (and constructive criticism!) I also love watching films and TV shows and seeing exhibitions. Animation and the art created for it is a great source of inspiration (I LOVE the work of Mary Blair who worked at Disney in the 1940s and 50s and designed the It’s A Small World ride!) as well as the work of fellow illustrators and friends. I’m also keen on mid century design and costume design for films and theatre. [/blockquote]
Where do you produce your work? ie home, studio, office?
[blockquote]I work from home. I have an upstairs studio where I do all the drawing out l, and a computer in a little downstairs studio where I do all the colouring in. I can also be found in cafes working sometimes, and I tend to do quite a bit of my writing – or at least the thinking-about-plots bit on trains or whilst travelling- writing my ideas etc into the Notes app on my phone.[/blockquote]
How is your work produced? ie the process, traditional or modern construction techniques?
[blockquote]Everything I draw is drawn by hand. I use pencil, chalk pastel, gouache and an eraser and draw onto smooth white card. Then I scan this in and colour it up in Photoshop. I am a bit of a ditherer when it comes to colour, so doing that but digitally lets me try things out without having to commit to anything. The Undo button is my best friend. [/blockquote]
[blockquote]I’m just working on the latest CLAUDE book. It’s the eighth in the series which are now published in 17 languages across the world. This lastest adventure has a sporty theme and will publish next year ahead of the Rio Olympics. After this one is finished I will move onto the next CLAUDE book – which is a Christmas special! Later this summer I will be creating new covers for special editions of one of the Famous Five books and a Just William book too. I’ve just finished illustrating The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. It’s a new gift edition to celebrate the book’s 60th anniversary and publishes at the end of August. The story is one of my absolute favourites, and to be given the chance to reimagine the text was a dream come true.[/blockquote]
What advice would you give to new artists or designers just starting out?
[blockquote]I think the best thing you can do is infuse your work with your own personality. Create work that is very much an extension of you and your interests and inspiration – whatever they might be. I’d also say to get involved with social media. Have a website or a tumble where you can post your work, and get chatting to other artists and designers on Twitter. Don’t ever be shy to share your work! Also: have fun! [/blockquote]