Alexandra Cook aka Alxndra
There is a super chic talent who resides amongst the craft scene. I first came across the brand “Alxndra” when she was showcasing her work at Renegade Craft Fair, London. Her super slick area really stood out in contrast to the often cluttered stalls, Alexandra’s space had a clean minimal feel. She offers a range of products that are well thought out, well designed, well presented and super well made, work that pulls you in for a closer look.
With a background in fashion and textiles the work crosses disciplines of garments, accessories, jewellery and print, with inspirations of kawaii and Japanese culture throughout.
From the totally cute iconic ghost to the mega awesome embroidered jacket. Patterned Mizu wrap and brand new stunning collection of well thought out precious jewellery. Alexandra is on my list of favourites for sure.
If you’re local to Brighton her work can be found in the awesome Family Store and she will be at the Brighton Illustration Fair next weekend, 3rd – 4th November 2018. Or you can visit her fab website alxndra.com in the comfort of your own home…
I’m super nosey so I asked Alexandra a few questions to find out more…
What were the signs that the young Alexandra was going to go to art school?
Art was pretty much the only subject that I enjoyed at school, not to mention I wasn’t really good at anything else! I can’t remember when it was exactly but at a certain young age I realised that going to art school was actually an option, that’s when it was decided. I think it’s a pretty old fashioned notion that studying art subjects as an adult are just ‘doss subjects’. I hope it’s getting a better rep these days as we are surrounded by items that are created my artists; our furniture, our clothes etc. Studying always meant un-fun things to me and when I found out that I could grow up, study AND have fun, it was a no-brainer.
On graduating into the big wide world did you go freelance / self-employed right away?
Pretty much yeah. I knew it was a bold move but I was at a bit of a loss back then and I didn’t know what else to do. I was disappointed with my degree and did a handful of awful fashion internships which didn’t shine a better light on the industry so “going freelance” seemed like an ok idea. Of course it didn’t add up to much for a while but I’m kinda glad I took the leap of faith now!
What inspires you and makes your heart beat faster?
Lots of things really. Japanese culture tends to be the main thing that does it for me. It’s so beautiful and unusual that I always find something new that I didn’t know about to inspire me. Other art obviously inspires me too and sometimes just everyday little things can be inspiring. It’s good to always keep one eye open.
Your illustrations are evolving and growing. How often do you draw and what is your favourite medium to work in/on?
I’ve been feeling this a lot lately too, I’m glad that my work evolving is noticeable! I recently was gifted by my boyfriend the iPad Pro and downloaded the Procreate app. I know it may be bad to say but I’ve barely picked up a pen and paper since! It’s been so fun playing around on it and because of it I have rediscovered my love for bigger colour palettes. I think my iPad has been the real source of my artistic evolution so I’m not ashamed to slowly become more of a digital medium user.
I have to admit I am not really one of those “I draw everyday” kind of artists, I used to be when I dressed like a wannabe coffee kid in my early teens and thought it looked cool to draw and not talk to anyone! Haha, but not anymore. I would say I draw every other day, sometimes not even for a week. Whenever it feels right (unless I have lots of commission work).
If I do choose to use paper, I like using simple tools; Black felt pens, ink, pencils. I’m clearing out a lot of stationary that I just don’t use anymore though in placement for my iPad!
You could be described as an illustrator, artist, fashion designer or jeweller. There is no pigeon hole in sight. How do you stay so open minded and choose the product types that you want to produce….?
To be honest, I almost feel like this is a curse! I’m always wanting to experiment and try turning my designs/drawings into new things. I can’t seem to stick to one thing. I create and just randomly go “ ooh! That would look great as a (insert product I’ve never tried before here)”. Sometimes I feel l would like be pigeon holed and maybe I would confuse my followers less. I guess I like to keep myself/people on their toes!
Your products are immaculate, well thought out and super high quality. As a maker myself finding suppliers and manufacturers can be challenging and I can’t imagine doing it for such a diverse range. Do you have a secret to tracking down fab manufacturers and people to work with?
Firstly, thank you!
Truthfully, I search google with a fine toothed comb! I bother to order samples most of the time and I guess it’s a hella lot of trial and error. It’s not always easy and definitely not being able to find good quality manufacturing can put a halt to some of my ideas. It’s the crux of whether I bother to make it or not.
Do you have a long term goal for your business – a dream of where you’d like it to take you?
This is definitely one of the hardest questions. I would like to in future be selling more concise ranges which means at some point I have to stop creating for every whim I ever think of! I would love to be considered an Illustrator/jeweller so really hoping my jewellery takes off the most but I still want to be able to draw a lot. At some point I will probably stop making clothes but it all depends on how my work gets received in the long run. I’m just happy that people still love my work enough to buy products from me. Right now I am content with that.
Have you made any sacrifices for your work?
Oh definitely. I think lots of artists can agree that at some point in their freelancing career that they’re prone to sacrificing their dignity for certain commission work that they barely got paid for or regretted in the long term!
Also I’ve sacrificed being able to communicate with people who live normal working lives. The nine to fivers who don’t understand my specific job title and think I’m just not really doing anything. I’ve definitely lost friends over it. But I guess you could argue they weren’t supportive enough friends to begin with!
What are you most grateful for within your work?
I’m most grateful for discovering the artists community! When I first started freelancing I felt really alone and ironically thanks to social media and the internet (sounds daft I know) I realised I wasn’t. I made so many amazing friends around the world because of the work I make. It’s a major highlight.
What would your super power be?
Pen and paper or illustrator?
Genuinely hate illustrator so definitely pen and paper.
Audio or Video?
Digital or Print?
80’s or 90’s?
80’s for sure.
Fashion or illustration?
That’s tough, but I’d say illustration since I left after 3 years of a fashion degree to start doing illustration again!
London or Tokyo?
You can get the world to listen to one tune – what would it be…?
David Bowie, heroes.
Go visit www.alxndra.com to find out more.
And follow here on Instagram @alxndracook 🙂
Posted in: Maker interviews