Alison Rachel // Illustrator // Amsterdam
1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?
I built my professional life entirely from social media, namely Instagram. I started making zines on the topic of self love and turned to Instagram to promote them. When the account started to gain a lot of attention I realised it's potential and began to understand the need for the kind of content it was creating. For me, artistically, the internet is a double edged sword. I spend a LOT of time on the internet, definitely too much and as much as it's veritable fount of inspiration it's a procrastination demon and I find myself being tricked into thinking I'm being productive by scrolling and 50min later have achieved nothing but stalked illustrators and watched 10 #levelupchallenge videos (no shade I love those videos). Ultimately I feel like my artistic life has suffered having become so involved with working on social media. The internet/social media is an incredible tool and like any its function depends on what you do with it, I'm still figuring out how to live my best life in balance and harmony with social media/the internet.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your work? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?
Content-wise I find inspiration from lived experience (being a woman in a patriarchal world) and from keeping up to date with what's happening around the world in the realm of gender and social justice issues. Aesthetically I rely on the internet and/or social media for inspiration, although I recently started crowd sourcing images from my followers to use as illustrative inspo so that's been fun.
3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?
I think I'm still in the process of doing so. I'm not really artistically trained but have always had a love for all things art/design. I've dabbled in many creative expressions including printmaking, drawing, painting, embroidery, textile design and graphic art. Since I was a teen I have always loved working with my hands and creating. Having been working predominantly digitally over the past two years or so I have neglected the hand made, and I miss it dearly. My next goal is to revisit the hand made so in the coming months I will be re-visiting some old mediums and perhaps trying out some new ones.
4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?
It happens alllll the time haha. There's not much one can do about it (I think) if someone has any ideas of how to better deal with infringement I'm all ear. I suppose we can't help but be influenced by what we see and I think there's nothing wrong with some healthy cross-pollination. It can be a little frustrating to see elements of one's work being blatantly mimicked but at the end of the day if your work is original, nobody can truly copy what you do (unless they are actually copying in which case get mad). But I honestly feel that it's helpful to not be too concerned with how others may draw inspiration from your work, keep doing what you're doing, it's obviously good enough for people to want to imitate and that's proverbially the sincerest form of flattery.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?
Social media is an amazing tool that's free and easy and powerful so don't sleep on it! If you believe in your work/craft, stay committed to it and I mean really committed like post every single day. Back yourself, when you speak highly of your work others believe you (and you start to too).
6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?
I love people who are not bound by the constraints of one particular art form or category like @penelopegazin who is a clothing and accessories designer, e-commerce entrepreneur, visual artist, drummer in a garage-rock band and all around pee-in-your-pants-hilarious person. Similarly @tactilematter approaches multiple different mediums with such a strong aesthetic sensibility that it I find inspiring. I also love the works of @manjitthap, it's so lovely and unique.
All images provided by the artist