•Tell us about who you are and how you got started doing what you do. Did you gain formal training? Where? If not, how did you develop your art? My name is Alison Spokes and my artistic niche is painting fairies in digital media. I am completely self-taught. My fascination with faeries began shortly after my first visit to Vancouver Island in 2002 when I purchased a deck of faerie oracle cards from a local bookstore. My intentions, when I bought the cards, were for use rather than for the artwork, but the imagery in the cards became this rabbit hole into the Wonderland that is Faerie. I have been collecting fairies and fantasy art ever since, which is where I get most of my inspiration. I have always been able to draw well, but I never took it seriously as a career, let alone a hobby, until just a few years ago. I had never considered using digital media until my sister started creating manga characters in Photoshop for her high-school art projects. I saw some of the amazing things she could do, so I thought I might give it a try. Unfortunately, I never got the feel for Photoshop. I eventually found an art tutorial by fantasy artist, Nene Thomas that explained some techniques in Corel Painter. That's when I discovered my medium! I've been painting ever since.
• Tell us about your studio. Do you have a room or workshop especially dedicated to your art? Or is it the kitchen table or a corner in your child's playroom? I wish I had a room solely dedicated to my art! No. I have a small room with a computer desk where I sit and do all my artwork. I have to share the space with my partner, the gamer: he games while I paint.
• Tell us about your processes. How do you work? Do you listen to music or need quiet? Is it sporadic or do you dedicate set hours to work? I try to dedicate set hours to my painting. My goal is 6 hours a week, but I probably only average 4 or 5. I try to get in at least 30 mins a day of actual painting time with a few extra hours added on during the weekends. I always listen to audio books while I paint. My favorite stories are Young Adult fantasy novels. Putting on headphones and hearing a story helps keep me focused. I seem to get easily distracted otherwise.
• What are the toughest challenges you find in keeping consistent hours? What other challenges do you face in your work and what ways have you been able to address them (if you have)? One of the biggest challenges I've faced is simply my choice of medium. Trying to enter art shows as a digital artist is challenging. Often, they have no category for digital art, so I don't qualify. Most art shows require original pieces. As a digital artist, my originals are bits and bites, which do not display well. Prints are my only option. Lastly, access to electricity is necessary if events require you to demonstrate your work; not all shows are able to provide that necessity. It can be tough, but I try not to let it discourage me.
When it comes to finding time, my biggest challenge is that I work part-time, and the rest of the week I am on call. My schedule changes from week to week, and sometimes I have to drop what I am doing to go into work if I get the call. Another distraction, I'll confess: I have a bit of an Internet addiction. Since I am already on the computer when I am working on my art, it is so easy to stop and check emails or messages from my social networks. At least I am easy to get in touch with! I am always online!
• What types of materials do you use? A computer, Corel Painter software, and my Wacom tablet.
• Where else do you sell your work? At this moment, I have two retailers that sell my work:
Lobelia's Lair in Nanaimo and the Victoria Bug Zoo in Victoria. Besides Etsy, I also sell my work from my own website as well as Zazzle.
I've also licensed my work to a couple of companies: Abracraftdabra Designs is a Canadian company that sells cross-stitch patterns of my work and Kat's Magical Patches sells my art on fabric patches. Both of these companies also have Etsy Shops.
• Why do you think people should buy handmade? I believe in buying local where ever you can for both economic and ecologic reasons. I also believe that buying local and handmade items builds a strong sense of community. I think people should get out there and know what skills and abilities lie in their own communities, be it local communities or online communities in some cases. Supporting people in your community also fosters positive energy, and that can never be bad.
• What goals do you have? My long-term dream would be to be self-employed as an artist! Isn't that every artists' dream? My short-term goals, however, are to try out a few new events this year. I'd like to complete my Enchanted Insects collection. Right now I have 6 completed; I would like to finish 6 more before I call it done. I've also started a new series called Moonlight Masquerade. I'd like to get a couple pieces from that collection completed by the end of the year.
• What are three items in your shop that you are particularly proud of?
• Will you be at any art/craft fairs this year? Any other place you will be this year that you would like us to know about?
Yes! I will be at the Sidney SummerMarket every Thursday night starting in June.
The Market at Bastion Square every Sunday starting in May.
June 9-10, I will part of the Saanich Peninsula Art Studio Tour.
I will also be at VCON: Vancouver'sSci-Fi & Fantasy Convention this fall.
There are a few other events I plan on attending, but nothing has been made official yet. You can check the events page on my website.
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I also have an online event going on right now. I encourage everyone to drop by my blog and enter my giveaway for a chance to win $25 in merchandise from my store.
Ethereal Earth Fantasy Art