In Conversation With Alternative Aesthetics AKA, Colin Kersley

Hailing from Cardiff, Colin Kersley flourishes in the world of illustration, showcasing a remarkable career. With an innate creativity and a penchant for the eccentric, Kersley surrounds himself with art in all forms, honing a playful and expressive artistic style  that has garnered attention from clients worldwide.

Why did you decide to take up your creative trade?

I’ve always been a creative soul. As a kid, I was definitely off in my own little world most of the time and used to write stories, make comics, draw weird characters, and just generally make stuff for fun.

My hometown wasn’t a great place for anyone with an interest in anything creative, so it wasn’t until I moved to Cardiff that I really leaned into the idea of a creative career. When I realised that being an illustrator was an option, my sights were set and I worked my butt off to make it a reality.

Illustration fills my heart and makes me happy so being able to do it every day is pretty nice! It gives me the freedom to get all of those fun and weird ideas that float around my brain out in a way that is so natural to me. The fact that I can call it my job and support my little family is just amazing!

How do you get past creative blocks?

I feel so fortunate not to have ever really suffered with creative block. It’s probably down to my mind being so busy all the time and approaching my work with a sense of play. I also don’t put too much pressure on myself to always be creating stuff for the sake of it, so I’ve always got plenty of ideas ready to go for personal projects or when a client brief lands in my inbox.

What is your creative process?

I’ve never been one for keeping sketchbooks to doodle or work through – instead, I use a notebook to jot down quick ideas, descriptions, or phrases to base my illustrations on (but mainly so I don’t forget them).

I find that writing my ideas down gives me more freedom to let my mind wander and go off on tangents without having an initial sketch or composition holding me back. Once I’ve got a clear concept in mind that I think hits the right notes, I create a rough version and walk away from it. That way, when I come back to it, I can clearly see what still works and what doesn’t…this is where the refining happens.

I tend to only create one or two versions before I’m happy with a piece, otherwise, it starts feeling like ‘work’ and loses the energy I want my illustrations to have. I like to keep things bold, simple, and fun!

Where do you look for inspiration?

I don’t really go looking for inspiration for what I want to create as my ideas are quite spontaneous (usually when I’m doing non-work related things). Having said that, I’ve always surrounded myself with music/films/cartoons / TV shows throughout my life and love listening to passionate people talk about what they’re into. I’m fascinated by the little details or moments of magic in life and think that fuels my brain to run riot most of the time.

What are you reading or listening to right now?

I’m mostly reading kids’ books with my daughter, which I unashamedly love! A recent favourite of ours is The Skull by Jon Klassen.

Music is on almost all day, every day in our house – especially when I’m working. I’ve been enjoying Brittany Howard’s new album ‘What Now’, Marnie Stern’s latest album ‘The Comeback Kid’, and a rotation of various stuff like Deftones, Nate Smith, Manchester Orchestra, TV On The Radio, QOTSA, Ritual Cloak, and a bunch more.

What does your typical day involve?

After dropping my daughter off at school, the first thing I do is head into my home studio and choose some music to set the tone for the day. I tackle my emails or other quick admin tasks to boost that feeling of productivity and then I’ll take a look at my to-do list or plan for any client calls.

Then, it’s time for the fun to begin! Whether it’s getting stuck in with client work, planning some personal projects or plotting world domination, I’ll usually power through until lunch (with the odd break for drumming or exercise). Once I’ve filled my face, I get back to knocking those items off the to-do list until it’s time to do the school run again.

I find having a more condensed day works well for me as I’m way more productive… and I get to hang out with my daughter for the rest of the evening, which is always fun!

What has been your favourite project to date and why?

Ooh, that’s a tough one! It’s probably a tie between the ‘Osseous Horde’ bottle I designed for Chilly’s Bottles and my Snoopy sculpture for ‘A Dog’s Trail’, which raised money for the Dogs Trust.

There’s something so special about having a product you designed out in the world for people to enjoy, and the demand for my Chilly’s bottle was incredible – so much so, that it was re-released as part of their greatest hits series! The team at Chilly’s are so lovely too, which is always a bonus when collaborating with brands you respect.

Everything about the Dog’s Trail sculpture project was amazing! Customising such an iconic character with my illustrations was a really fun challenge, and paired with helping raise money for such an incredible organisation was the cherry on top. It was really exciting to see everyone enjoying the sculpture as part of the trail leading up to the auction and I love the fact that it found a good home with a generous bidder.

How do you switch off?

I’m not sure my creative or ‘work’ brain ever really switches off but I love to spend as much time with my family as I can when I’m not working. Other than that, I enjoy having a good noodle on my drum kit, watching good films/TV shows, or creating non-illustrative stuff for fun.

Who inspires you?

I’m generally inspired by passionate people – it doesn’t matter what someone’s passionate about, I just love it when people get lost in what they enjoy or when they talk about something they’re really into and you can see the joy oozing from within.


A big thank you to Colin Kersley for contributing to our series of creative conversations with industry experts.

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