Friday, 2 August 2019

Etsy shop finds...a chat with Alison Willoughby

This months etsy shop interview is with Alison Willoughby.
An Australian based graphic designer and artist who creates art and art inspired stationery.
Abstract shapes and colourful combinations are the order of the day in Alisons bold and playful designs.
Lets get to know a little about her shall we....

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background... 

I loved the art and design subjects in high school and went on to study graphic design at TAFE and Uni. When I was studying I was always keeping busy with little side projects, like making jewellery or collages. 
It was a super creative time for me, I was at design school every day and was excited to be making things and sharing to the early days of Instagram. 
I experimented a lot with different products I’d make for myself that my friends or other people were interested in - that was around the time Etsy was starting to really take off, so I created a shop on there to sell my little projects for some extra income. 
Once I graduated I spent a while interning as a graphic designer before landing full time work. 
I still kept up my Etsy store and started to create prints and artwork, as well as stationery like greeting cards. 
Even though my products were evolving, I have always had a strong focus on colour and colour combinations.
In the last year I have switched up my routine, and now work in house as a graphic designer three days a week, and then freelance for myself two days a week. 
On these days I either do graphic design work, textile design or work on my own products.
I have been doing a few more markets, have seven lovely stockists of my pieces and am loving the balance of it all!

2. What books/ magazines are currently on your coffee table?

Sitting on my coffee table are 2 books at the moment, ‘Eames - Beautiful Details’ and ‘Mid Century Modern Complete’
My boyfriend and I visited the Eames house in Santa Monica last year and it was the coolest experience!
I got him this book for Christmas as we are both really into mid century/modern design and Charles & Ray Eames are just so inspiring.
Also the cover is beautiful so its a great one for the coffee table.

3. Who are your design heroes and what inspires you?

I’m inspired by heaps of different people/designers/artists/fashion etc.

Marimekko is definitely a huge inspiration to me - the Finnish design house, for the bold and bright textiles that stand the test of time. It was founded in the 50's and was created and run by women, which is really cool.
I love Dick Bruna’s illustrations and the bold colours he used in his work.
Yayoi Kusama, of course for her amazing colourful artwork but also for her inspirational story of how she got where she is today - check out ‘Kusama: Infinity’ if you haven’t already!

4. Tell us about a typical day for you...

On one of my freelance days I usually start by going through emails and making a plan for the day. Sometimes I won’t have any urgent deadlines or projects so I just spend the day painting, creating collages or packing any orders for customers or stockists.

By lunch time I either create some strange concoction from my kitchen (CC: or sometimes I go for a walk to meet my boyfriend for lunch, he works close by to home, where my studio is.
I try to fit in some exercise and finish off anything else in the afternoon.

Most days aren’t the same which is the fun of it - I am quite routine driven as a person but am really trying to let that go and enjoy working for myself.
I’ve also been trying to put less pressure on myself to stick to a traditional 9-5 timeframe, because sometimes I am just feeling it more at nighttime and I just roll with it!

5. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?

My work usually starts from a physical place, I like to collect paint swatches and create colour combinations and compositions using collage.
Sometimes that is the finished product, or sometimes I scan or trace the shapes on the computer. These days I often just illustrate from the get-go on the computer too, it just depends what is working!
I kind of collect colour combos in my head, or take weird photos of stuff to document the colours.

For my painting work, I often have quite a strong plan going into a piece - I am still new to painting and really can’t go with the flow of it yet - the designer in me needs a solid plan. I usually rough sketch up the composition, and plan colours before starting.

6. Where do you work? Describe your studio/work area...

I work at my home studio, in Collingwood - in inner city Melbourne, Australia. I’ve got a big desk, with all my inspo books sitting above me on the wall. 
It’s usually an absolute mess in there but sometimes I try to tidy it up and it looks pretty again!
I often move around the apartment and sit wherever the light is nice. I’ve often got podcasts on to fill the quietness of working on my own - lately I’ve been listening to Bobo & Flex, all about relationships and the Wowee! Podcast by two Melbourne creatives, interviewing other creative people.

7. In three words, describe your work...

Colourful, bright & bold

8. What makes you laugh?

My boyfriend Denny is pretty funny and so are my family & friends! 

9. What are you currently passionate about or fascinated by and how is it inspiring your work?

I recently went to see a documentary about the Bauhaus design movement for the German Film Festival, called Bauhaus Spirit - and it explored how this movement and its ideas are carried into so many different things today. I thought that was really cool and I enjoyed hearing more about the experimental nature of Bauhaus. 
I’ve been trying to experiment with collage pieces consisting of only 3 shapes lately, I guess sort of similar to the 3 Bauhaus shapes, and finding the beauty in the super simple and minimal - its actually really difficult! You can check out some of these on Instagram -

10. What’s the most popular item for sale in your etsy shop?

Probably one of my greeting card designs! 

A huge thanks to Alison for taking the time to be part of the etsy interview series here on the blog.
If you'd like to follow her, here are a few links...

instagram | etsy | website

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