Meet Melbourne based illustrator Alexis Winter and her vivid, linear designs. She fills us in on the joys of illustration and surface design, influential artists and staying motivated as an artist.
What is your studio name and location?
I work from my home studio in Melbourne Australia, affectionately known as Winterbottom Industries.
Where did you study (if you did)?
I studied Communication Design at RMIT University here in Melbourne.
Describe your design process
A shot of lightning from brain to hand! Well, that’s what it often feels like. It always starts with a concept or narrative I’m trying to communicate and develops organically from there.
What is your favourite part of the design process from inspiration, drawing to the final printed fabric/product?
I love conceptualising and theorising how to represent ideas in a visual way. Following that, my favourite part of the design process is the physical act of drawing and creating something. Using visuals to solve problems and to trouble shoot ideas until you get the right outcome gives me the biggest rush. It’s the same rush I imagine someone feels after solving a Sudoku puzzle.
Who do you design for? Who is your muse?
First and foremost, I design and illustrate for myself. Illustration is my favourite avenue for expressing myself and visually working through ideas. It’s like an itch I can never quite fully scratch, there’s always another idea floating around my head waiting to be turned into something.
What first sparked your interest in print design?
I like the idea of my illustrations being put on objects and surfaces that people can wear.
Describe your style in 5 words
Linear, playful, bold, sentimental, and layered.
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
I always use 0.5mm Uniball fine liners for my line work. These are my favourite pens on the planet! My Dad once gave me a bouquet of them for my birthday, that’s how much I love these pens. The ink is so fluid and dries so quickly. Perfect for my work flow.
What / who are your major influences?
Tom Waits, Frida Kahlo, and Tchaikovsky. Not only in the work that they produce, but the way that they went or go about it.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Recently I illustrated a book for my partner called “An Anthology of Objects”. The project started after I pondered if it were possible to tell the story of a year using only illustrated objects. The book is perfect bound and contains 51 illustrations of different objects that hold sentimental significance to us during our first year together. Only two copies ever made and it’s my favourite thing I’ve designed to date.
Your biggest challenge you have faced as a designer
Juggling everything. The role of the artist is no longer just to create. You’ve also got to be an accountant, product photographer, social media manager, online store manager, and parcel shipper. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything.
Best exhibition/museum/research trip/inspirational place
Learning new things always gives me a great deal of inspiration. I’ve recently been educated on the rules and point scoring of AFL football. When you score 1 point rather than 6 it’s called a “behind”. I found this so funny that I illustrated a comic about a “nice behind”. Plot twist, it was a butt.
Favourite music when designing
Tom Waits, I would live inside his songs if I could. I also listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m illustrating which often spark new ideas simultaneously. All In The Mind from the ABC, and Radio Lab from WNYC are on constant rotation.
What are you working on at the moment?
Each year on my birthday I set myself a personal challenge. This year the challenge was to illustrate a repeat pattern every week for the entire year, Photoshopping them onto walls and fabric to show them in situ. The purpose of this challenge was to develop my skills further, and by the end of the project have 52 repeat patterns under my belt to be printed onto textiles or used as surface designs.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I’d love to have my illustrations licensed for textiles. Imagine walking down the street and seeing someone wearing your illustrations! Ken Done must have been in a constant state of ecstasy.
Do you have any tips for new designers starting out?
Never stop designing for yourself. Set yourself mini challenges and stick to them. Have fun!
You can see more of Alexis Winter's work over at her Instagram @alexiswinter