Interview with Freelance Illustrator Alex Foster

Alex Foster is an illustrator based in the seaside town of Margate, UK. He has worked with a variety of clients on a range of projects including Anorak Magazine and Hallmark. Here we got a chance to discuss life as a growing illustrator, his influences, creative friends to watch, Philip Schofield & more.

[Tweet “”It’s easy to feel like nothing’s happening but if you keep putting the work in something will come along, you just have to be resilient.” -Alex Foster”]

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What has life been like as an illustrator in the past 12-18 months, are you happy with your progress?

The last 12 – 18 months have been great. I’ve been establishing myself as an illustrator and getting bigger, higher profile jobs. A major highlight includes having my poster for Totally Thames printed on the London Underground posters, and getting my House Portrait service featured on the Guardian Christmas gift guide and This Morning on ITV. That was pretty fun watching Phillip Scofield loom over my work.

What was the impact on your sales/social media fans when you were featured on ITV? How big of a boost was it?

Social media wasn’t affected too much, but traffic to my website, calls and sales went crazy! It was great.

What has been the biggest motivation for you, what has sparked your inspiration the most?

Inspiration and motivation for me comes from a lot of places. From films and documentaries to every day life and looking at other artists’ work, ideas and motivation can come from anywhere. It also depends on the job, the research I take on might lead somewhere unexpected.

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Does drawing and illustrating things in your local area, or place you grew up motivate you more?

It’s always nice to make illustrations of my home town as it is so familiar to me. Also, the area I grew up in has been improving a huge amount over the last 5 years, with people and businesses moving in from across the country. I’m hoping that my local work is giving Margate and Thanet a little bit more exposure.

What are your favourite memories from growing up in Margate and Thanet?

Most memories growing up involve playing gigs and seeing local bands, drinking, skateboarding and people fighting each other. As I said the area has improved a huge amount recently!!

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Which projects have been the most satisfying recently?

The House Portraits have been great for me, as in the last few months I have had a lot of orders. It’s always nice to hear from customers and people that were happy with their portraits. Anorak Magazine and Talented designs were also brilliant jobs – any commission where I have a fair amount of freedom tends to work well.

What did you enjoy about your London Map & Ramsgate harbour prints?

The London map was nice to make, I always like to create stylized maps of places and after living in London for 3 years it has many familiar areas. The map is mostly places to visit like galleries and museums.

Ramsgate Harbour was also great because it’s a beautiful part of town, the area I chose features the harbour and boats at the bottom, then further up you can see the hills and arches that house local cafe’s and businesses.

We hear you’re working towards more work on house portraits, what motivated you for this?

The exposure these had was great, there has been a large demand so I think that’s all the motivation that’s needed! It’s very satisfying having the images and info come in, making the print, packing, posting and ticking it off.

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You’re now selling your work nationally in places like Liverpool’s Nook & Cranny, do you have plans to sell further afield this year?

A lot of the stockists for me recently have been online, but I would definitely really like to be stocked in more places across the country and even in other countries. If anybody reading this runs a shop that would be interested I would love for you to contact me.

Do you have many illustrator friends who you think could be a real success in the coming years?

Loads of my friends from uni will be doing well I think, specifically Dan Duncan, Dawn Williams and Maya Pletscher. Friends based in Thanet worth checking out are Block Colour, Nick Morley and all the guys at Resort Studios.

What would be your biggest piece of advice for soon to be graduate illustrators this summer?

Keep making good work and getting it in front of Art Directors and people that could hire you. I’m always emailing new people and trying to get my work seen to keep the flow of jobs steady. It’s easy to feel like nothing’s happening but if you keep putting the work in something will come along. I have periods where I have as much work as I can deal with, then other times where I hear barely anything, so you just have to be resilient.

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Do you have any favourite people you follow on twitter?

To be honest my Twitter feed is a mixture between Illustrators, Comedians and interesting people. If I had to pick my favourites would include Anthony Cumia, Rob Delaney, and illustrators like Jack Hudson and Paul Blow.

What music and tv shows/radio do you enjoy to listen too whilst working or relaxing away from work?

Working from home, the podcasts and music I listen to tend to be the same as away from work. I’ve recently been into The Pharcyde, Del the Funky Homosapien and A Tribe Called Quest. I listen to a lot of radio and podcasts while I’m working – Old Opie & Anthony is hilarious, as well as The Bone Zone and Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank. If I’m feeling more serious I like to listen to Freakonomics and Radiolab, both very interesting podcasts.

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Website | @alexfosterillo | Facebook