Artist Alyson Pearson, aka Alykat Creative, is living back on the Coffs Coast after a number of years living and teaching design in London. Her illustrations are a unique mix of hand drawing, painting
and digital art. As well as making art prints, she also uses her designs to create beautiful textiles, which are then turned into clothing and homewares.
Hey Alyson. Tell us about your relationship with the Coffs Coast.
I have grown up in, fled and had many returns to Coffs, where I’ve always called home – largely because Mum and Dad are here in the same house I grew up in, with the creek and the beach on their doorstep. The reason for my return this time was because after living in fast and busy London for a few years, I craved that sense of home and belonging, the coastal community, old friends and familiar surrounds.
When do you first remember being inspired by art? Has art always been a part of your life?
It’s funny, because I have a very sporty family, and I am definitely the black sheep amongst them. But thinking about my first interaction with something arty … it was probably seeing my older sister keep a drawing pad of her own animal drawings, which was more of a phase for her, but was enough to inspire me to give it a go.
Fast forward a few years, and my favourite and best performing subject during high school was Visual Art at Jetty High.
Can you tell us about the mediums you usually work with?
I draw in detail with biro and add basic watercolour for texture and colouring, then once these handmade elements are scanned, a lot of the magic is experimenting in Photoshop. This is why I don’t typically have original pieces (like an artist would a painting on canvas), and why I release my work as prints.
When did you decide to start using your illustrations beyond printed paper?
A couple of years ago I started making patterns with my illustrations, rather than a scene or single motif, and had quite a few people suggest using them on textiles – whether that be pieces of clothing or homewares. I realised if I wanted to make a successful business from my illustrated designs, I would need to offer more than just paper prints, and I’m a big fashion lover myself – so it made sense to try to combine the two.
Can we expect to see some more clothing from Alykat somewhere down the track?
I hope so! I did start to explore that in 2017, and although I was really happy with the overall look and positive feedback from both customers and potential stockists, I soon discovered a few hurdles I needed to work on if I wanted to continue on a large scale successfully. So, I’ve taken a step back and am still learning and building on the experience. I know I want to work with natural linen and potentially change up my audience from female to a male niche, but you’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out!
You seem to have a theme of native animals within your work; what is it that inspires you about them as a subject?
When I first started out creating my own illustrated designs, I was all about woodland animals like deer, owls, and foxes. It was while I was living in London a couple of years ago and I was missing everything about Australia – the music, the weather, family, and I was so drawn to the beautiful flora and gorgeous animals, which I realised I’d taken for granted most of my life. Then when deciding on what theme I wanted to tackle next, a modern take on Australiana started to pour out of me. It think it was my subconscious letting me know it was time to come home too.
You’ve been teaching design for a few years now. What inspired you to take this direction?
I’ve always been a people-person and as much as I love designing myself, I wanted to help and work with the next generation of creatives, so teaching was in the back of my mind for quite a few years. Then an ad for my dream job actually popped up in my social media feed one day, and all of a sudden I found myself working in my dream job, in London!
What has been most challenging about your creative journey so far?
Trying not to care what others think and allowing myself to fail. Because I’ve developed a style that I’m comfortable with over the years, it feels far more challenging to paint abstract on a canvas, with no Lightbox or Photoshop to hide behind. That, and the fact that it’s quite an isolating job if you work or create by yourself, so staying motivated and connecting with others is something I’m constantly working on.
Where can people see more of your work?
Facebook and Instagram as @alykatcreative is where I update more regularly these days, and I plan to give www.alykatcreative.com.au
a revamp soon too. If you want to see the work in the flesh, I’ll be at the next Made With Love market in June.