Alyson Fox likes doing things. In her case, ‘things’ mean drawing, taking pictures, designing clothes, making shop windows pretty – and probably one or two more ‘things’ since we last talked.
But Alyson hasn't always been so dexterous; rather, it was a series of events that gradually gifted the Austin-based twenty-something with her now ample selection of talents. She started as a photographer, where the time she spent in the darkroom quickly turned her on to the happy powers of creativity. Then, it was on to drawing, where her faceless forms still managed to bleed emotion all over the page. Not to be deterred, or to abandon her past pursuits (which she hasn’t), it was on to fashion design, where her hand-drawn characters were suddenly permitted to step off of the page to share their clothes with real people.
It's good thing for her that she has done all of these things "“ but it's an even better thing for us, because Alyson Fox happens to be incredibly talented at all of them. Recently, we were blessed with another good thing, when Alyson decided to take some time out of her crafty days to chat with us.
Joshspear.com: Your first interest was photography, which then branched out into visuals, fashion design, and drawing. How did this progression unfold itself?
Alyson Fox: The first medium that I really connected to was photography. Maybe because it was my first studio class? I was able to shoot rolls and rolls of film and then edit them in the darkroom.
It was the sense of discovery and immediacy that I really liked. From there, in grad school, I just focused on making things. Not concentrating or concerning myself with what it was I was using to make something but more about the process. I used a lot of found objects (furniture and household items) that already had a past to them. It was then that I started combining a lot of elements to make installation work and realizing that it all bleeds together for me. My love for drawing soon followed. I never really played with that medium too much because I didn't really enjoy my drawing classes in undergrad. Once I let go of the technical side of it I got really hooked. Maybe a tad obsessed. It is a very intimate and simple medium. I started working from old family photographs, creating this fictional family history with bizarre stories that will continue to grow with me. The clothing line branched out from there wanting to combine all of my interests into one project. I'm still testing the water there.
JS: Are your interests still so varied, or are you currently focusing on just a few areas?
AF: To me it is not varied at all. It's one continuous project. There are some days when I am more focused on how I am going to take it to the next step and concentrating more in one area, but all of it helps keep me on track. Drawing is definitely what I do most.
JS: I'd describe your drawings as whimsical, cheeky, and occasionally dark. What am I missing?
AF: Familiar and Alarming.
JS: Do you always work in those mediums (correct me if I'm wrong here – watercolor and graphite, it looks like)?
AF: Yes, for the most part. To me the drawings are more well suited right now just simply pen, pencil and watercolor. I am experimenting with some other things like paper forms and glue, so something new may surface.
JS: Austin is a very supportive area, creatively speaking. Does living here play a role in your work?
AF: There are a lot of very creative people in Austin and it's a great place to live. I definitely think surroundings play a huge part, but more in the sense of relationships for me. I am able to focus on work because I have an incredible fiance.
JS: Tell us about A Small Collection…
AF: It's just the beginning of some ideas. I wanted to start something that could help me get closer to being self-supporting and combine my love for all of these things that motivate me. I'm still learning a lot! The plan behind it all is to make 2 small collections a year. Always keeping it to about 9 pieces. I am eager to see it all evolve. This is actually the first project that is more of a collaboration for me. I work with a pattern drafter and production place, so it's all new territory.
JS: Your clothing seems to be a natural extension of your artwork "“ like you plucked your line straight out of your sketchbook. Did you find your desire to create fashion through dressing your characters, or has that always been with you?
AF: My love of fashion has always been with me, but definitely drawing my characters has taken it all to a different level. Actually, my characters have more patterns and color in their wares, which I hope to introduce more of in my line soon.
JS: You're a pretty prime example of how the internet can build strong careers "“ can you talk about how Design*Sponge, etc, helped you turn your passion into a profession?
AF: It's totally crazy. Thank you Grace for posting my work! I feel so tickled that people want to post my work, write about me and listen to what I have to say. The internet has this capacity to reach an endless amount of people so it's pretty exciting what it can do. I'm still trying to make my profession happen, but if I had not been posted on design sponge over a year ago, I would be a lot further away of making it a reality.
JS: Are you still taking on freelance work, or are you working only for yourself these days? I take on some freelance work.
AF: Right now I am working on illustrations for a book and store window displays for a local boutique called Kick Pleat. For the most part though, I am in selfish mode.
JS: Any new projects coming up that we should be excited about?
AF: I am collaborating on a small line of clothes with a friend and fellow designer Caitlin Mociun (pronounced "motion"). It will be called "Fox in Mociun". This summer I also plan to make a few changes that I hope will make my designs stronger for my spring collection.