Illustrator Alex Foster is based in Margate and works with children’s book illustrations and maps. Alex Foster’s work is celebrated for being a prominent figure in children’s book illustrations and magazine editorials. His editorial and magazine illustrations have become popular with adults and children alike. One of my favourite Alex Foster’s editorials is the River Road and national park map for the Texas highway magazine.
As part of the illustration module, we needed to contact illustrators either via email correspondence or an online interview. I contacted Alex Foster via email correspondence and he was very helpful in answering all the questions I had. Below is the email correspondence with Alex Foster. Here is Alex Foster’s website: Alex Foster (alex-foster.com)
- Me: Who inspired you to become an illustrator?
Alex: “My first inspirations I guess were artists making gig posters, that being the first time I’d really experienced illustration. I looked at them and thought I’d love to make stuff like that, and wanted to know how to get there. Dan Mumford and others I can’t remember the names of!”
2. Me: How do you overcome a creative block ?
Alex: “Sometimes with deadlines creative block isn’t available to have as weird as it sounds – if there’s no time you just have to get on with it. Usually though for me I don’t get much creative block because my illustration is usually for a specific purpose/brief so there isn’t too much creative freedom anyway. But if I do get it I’d try different ideas, if they aren’t coming I’d go for a walk or do something unrelated, hoover, read or something.”
3. Me: What is your favourite work in your portfolio? Why was it made?
Alex: “One of my favourites is the Art Rebels project, because it was for my local gallery that’s been hugely important for the area (Turner Contemporary in Margate), and it’s got an element of learning and fun – the cards give prompts to inspire kids or whoever is using them to make artwork in various ways.”
4. Me: What’s the weirdest briefs you’ve ever been given?
Alex: “I wish I had more weird briefs! A lot of the time everything has to be very safe and unoffensive (makes a lot of sense with children’s work) but sometimes it’d be fun to draw some silly stuff.”
5. Me: What do you think makes a good illustrator?
Alex: ” I think skill comes easier to some than others, but my work doesn’t come easy to me and I think a good illustrator needs tonnes of perseverance, with something like drawing you don’t get good in a few days, it takes constant practise.”
6. Me: What is your least favourite commission?
Alex: “Least favourite commission is anything where the client takes too much control and doesn’t let you do your job. Most of the time feedback is good and helpful and can make the piece better, but too much interfering or too many rounds of changes will just ruin any good work.”
7. Me: what are your strengths and weaknesses in your illustrations?
Alex: ” This is a tough one, it’s something you need to evaluate constantly I think. Maybe a weakness is that due to me not wanting to turn down jobs I’ve got loads of different work in different areas in my portfolio, this isn’t necessarily bad but who knows I might be a master of one subject if I stuck to one thing (editorial or children’s books for example). A strength is that I always schedule out my time well and don’t stay up late working even with crazy deadlines.”
8. Me: How do you see yourself in five years time?
Alex: “Five years hopefully I’m more picky with projects to take on, ones that are good for my future and not just because I need the money.”
9. Me: how do people come to you for commissions?
Alex: “I think at this point it comes from everywhere, some from Google ads and searches, some from Instagram, some from recommendations or graphic designers knowing/finding me to work with. Knowing this in more detail is very important vecause then you can push those areas”
10. Me: What interests do you have besides illustration?
Alex: “I like playing Pc games (sometimes Minecraft, a new one called Valheim, enjoyed Cyberpunk for the main story), I like reading – just started ‘Status Anxiety’, read loads of Stephen King. I love films and good Tv Series. Lots of walking. Cooking. Watching UFC. I watch Limmy on Twitch a lot. Youtube. Did love the pub with mates when that was the real world!”
The aspect of choosing a digital correspondence has been important with connecting with other illustrators. Asking the question on how to overcome a creative block, is a new question I have decided to ask, the premise is that I have always struggled to find inspiration and developing new ideas. However, using what he suggested within the method of distraction, if struggling with a creative block. Would definitely be something I would take on board in the future. In future email correspondences and interviews, I will ask more questions regarding other illustrators work in practice, and gathering information on how these illustrators became, who they were today.