Introducing Alexander Jackson, a multidimensional all-rounder
Based in the UK, Alexander Jackson initially trained in fine art, before studying illustration and honing his signature graphic style. Alexander has illustrated short stories, book covers, portraits, and murals in addition to being an avid musician. Character captivates him, and he strives to capture this in everything he does.
Why did you decide to take up illustration?
I’ve always enjoyed creating visual art. Illustration seemed to cover a broad scope of visual styles but within a more commercial context. It meant that it was possible to work on commissions that allow the freedom to use that unique voice you develop when getting into creating visual art.
How do you get past creative blocks?
Actually, by browsing my social media feed. Platforms like Instagram and Behance which are used more to share images than others might be. For most people, that might be a hindrance but I mostly just use it to see what other creatives have been working on, so I usually find that I’m itching to go and create after doing that.
What is your creative process?
Currently, most of what I do is draw on Procreate and then textures and extra flourishes are added on Adobe Photoshop. I have a library of handmade textures I’ve scanned in that I like to use. Occasionally the drawing is done by hand though. I prefer to get my hands dirty when creating but digital with illustration is a little bit more efficient when it comes to making tweaks later on at the client’s request. Also – it’s easier to travel with and you have a less cluttered studio space.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I draw a lot of portraits and there’s no shortage of interesting faces to try and capture. I also often draw buildings and food so travel helps with that. It doesn’t even have to be a big trip or anything. My camera roll on my phone is full of pictures of interesting buildings that I’ve spotted whilst I’ve been out somewhere and decided I’d like to try and draw them in my style at some point. It’s mostly just things that you see in daily life that have character – buildings, food (everyone eats), animals, people on TV, etc.
What are you reading or listening to right now?
Currently, it’s just the odd podcast in the background whilst working. The ‘Off Menu’ podcast usually works, or Brett Goldstein’s ‘Film to be Buried With’.
As far as books go, I haven’t figured out which one to get into next so I’m open to suggestions there!
What does your typical day involve?
I go for a walk first thing for exercise (before spending all day sitting at a desk). The first thing for work is general admin stuff like email correspondence, various updates, etc – I find it best just to get that out of the way so I can settle into creating for the rest of the day. At least that’s my preferred day. I find that it varies depending on what project I’m working on since the process for each project might tend to differ.
What has been your favourite project to date and why?
I made a little guide of all of the best pizza slice shops in New York in which I drew the shop exterior, the slice I had there and wrote a couple of sentences about my experience with each one. As enjoyable as it was doing the artwork, I have to say that I didn’t want the research stage to end since it involved walking around New York and eating a lot of pizza. Actually aside from that, I found a lot of those places have some unique charm and character about them that I tried to capture in the artwork, which was also a fun challenge.
How do you switch off?
I’m into films. Also, music – both listening to it but also performing it (I play a few instruments). I usually find that putting on a film or either listening to or playing some music helps to wind down. Although both of those are still creative fields so I’m not sure if that actually does get me to switch off properly.
Who inspires you?
All kinds of things, I suppose. One piece of art has a lot of different components (colour scheme, shape/composition, subject, purpose, etc), and all of them are inspired by separate things for me. I’m inspired by how the components are used in other creative fields – like the themes explored in a film or often the mood conveyed in a piece of music. I look to how graphic designers might make use of a restricted colour palette since I try to utilise something similar within my own work. I quite like things that are vibrant and exciting. That usually gets the creative juices flowing.
A big thank you to Alexander Jackson for contributing to our series of creative conversations with industry experts.