Alex, how did you get started as an illustrator?
I have always loved to draw from the time I was a little kid.
Back then it was robot fights, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Legend of Zelda.
My grandparents were accomplished amateur artists and really encouraged me as a child to draw and paint. My father had a sign business while I grew up, and my brothers and I spent a lot of time there after school and helped my dad when we were old enough.
In college I turned my focus to graphic design, and decided that was my career. I would still draw for fun, but not anywhere as much as I had before while growing up. After working as a designer for about 5 years a coworker encouraged me to focus more on my illustration skills, and we started using some of my illustrations for the web company we worked for.
Very soon after that I left and started my own business in 2008, and decided to put a much larger emphasis on my illustration skills. That was when I actually started taking illustration seriously, and pitching it as a service to my clients.
Your style, has it changed since you started and how you define it today?
Yes and no.
My execution has changed quite a bit, and how I approach things is different because I have more experience and practice now. I also have newer tools like an electronic drawing panel/screen. But I think in some ways the spirit behind it hasn’t changed very much over the years.
I look back at some of my older illustrations, and the feeling is the same to me. It might be hidden behind a less developed technique, but I can see it.
What do you tell me about your technique and the subjects that most inspire your art?
I like to mix simplicity and complexity.
I like simple ideas, and representations that aren’t all that deep. Just things that are beautiful, funny, weird or interesting to me. But I love detail, and texture, and that’s where I guess the complexity comes in.
Simple subject matter with textured representation. I’ve found that a simple concept that is easily digested but with beautifully rendered detail that gives the viewer a lot to look at always gets a positive reaction.
The series “50 States of Beauty” is amazing! A vintage inspired series capturing the beauty of America!?Please talk me about this project.
As with all my projects the final outcome is different than where I start. My original idea was to just make a map of America with lots of little icons and details inset into the different regions.
I have a really wonderful old Rand McNally Atlas from the the 60s that was my initial inspiration for a map, but as I was sketching it up I just didn’t like it very much, and it was moving very slowly. So I pulled one state out and figured I’d render it in a vintage painterly style just to get some color on the page, and feel like I was making progress.
Once I did that it made sense, and I realized the project was going to make a turn to be individual states with highly rendered landscapes instead of a map with icons scattered throughout.
When the idea of “Family Tree” was born? What is the story of your creative studio?
It had it’s first iteration 12 years ago.
I was between jobs and started making art products out of random stuff I would buy from thrift stores, and repurpose. I would buy old clothes, suitcases, purses etc and spray paint designs on them. I wanted to get other people involved as well, and got a few friends to submit some designs.
I sold a few things in some boutiques in Nashville, and through Myspace (yes Myspace!!). At that point Familytree was just kind of a fun little project, and it didn’t go that far. A few years later, I was laid off from a web design job, and wanted to start my own one-man design firm.
I decided to recycle the Familytree name, but with a fresh design.
Familytree has evolved since then into an e-commerce art business where I sell art prints.
Who are the artists involved in this project and what are the creative projects of Family Tree?
Familytree is mostly me.
I have a part time assistant that helps me with printing, shipping, craft fairs, and some creative work. Most of the art series on my site are conceptualized by me, and sometimes
I will seek out collaborators to work with me on a specific project. I’ve worked with Babs Tarr, Anne Benjamin, Daniel Krall, Jim Tierney, John Solimine, Julian Baker, Jeff Kandefer, Lydia Nichols, Scott MacDonald, & Shelby Rodeffer.
What will be your next artistic projects?
I am currently working on an ambitious multi-piece retro space travel themed project with Harold Apples.
We hope to have it ready by November.
Where can we follow you and Family Tree?
My website is www.familytreedesign.net signing up for my email list there is the best way to get new release updates.
I also update my Instagram with all my new work @familytre3.
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