We love supporting women-owned businesses, which is one of the reasons we were so excited to collaborate with illustrator Alex Olanow on our Valentine’s Day campaign. The Brooklyn-based author and creator curated a variety of whimsical love stories, including a couple at a cafe and a group embrace. We were lucky enough to catch up with her and get some insight into her process, as well as what she’s currently up to and some of her favorite things.
Tell us about your background—have you always been an artist?
I’ve always been creative. My family moved around when I was a kid and drawing became my way to easily connect with the world around me. My paper and colored pencils were my allies in adjustment. To this day drawing has always been a way for me to easily express myself.
How did you end up turning your creativity into a career?
I studied fine art at Washington University in St. Louis but stumbled into a design job when I graduated. I lived in Toronto for about 5 years and then moved to New York. I was in the commercial arts, I worked as an art director and a graphic designer for about a decade but found myself longing to find the freedom I knew drawing gave me. So, I took a leap and put together a portfolio of scribbles and sketches and slowly built a reputation as an illustrator.
What is the inspiration behind your illustrations?
My inspiration comes in many forms; really anything that allows me to think creatively. Some of that results from reading books, listening to music, and going to art shows. But mostly I'm just looking around, watching people on the street, noticing how a stranger tells a story or eats a sandwich, wondering how they picked out what they have on and why. Everyday moments and the movements of human behavior give me so much. Whenever I get stuck on an idea, I go for a walk and take a peek at the world around me.
Describe a typical day for you.
My daughter usually wakes me up around 6:30-7 AM and we start the breakfast routine, then it’s off to school. I like to move my body, so after drop off, I either do a little yoga or go for a walk. My workdays vary, if there’s lots to do, straight to business. But, if I’m not under a tight deadline things can be more flexible—which could include going to the park to read, lunch with a friend, or a show. It changes. Coco comes home at 5 PM and we make dinner together, play around afterward and she's in bed by 7 PM. This is when I’m most creative, so I work often at night. I’ll put on some good tunes and get to it. I try to sleep by 11:30 PM, so I’ll shut down whatever I’m doing at 11 PM and unwind before Zzzzzzz.
What do you like to keep around you as you work?
I always pin up a little note or drawing in the eye line of where I work, Something that will make me smile or remember a lovely moment. I don’t like too much around where I work —less is more.
Are you currently working on anything new?
Yes! I’ve been developing a new body oil called A.OK. It was born out of my personal need to reconnect with my body and mind, and I am beyond excited to share it :)
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