Alecia Blake trained as an artist and illustrator and loves drawing willowy fashion models and coloring pages. She has been featured in numerous magazines as a fashion illustrator throughout her career
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Do you remember the first thing that you drew and if so what was it?
I am told that I started drawing when I was about 2 years old and never stopped. I have a drawing from kindergarten that my mother made into a plate, so that is frozen in time. In this very colorful drawing, I am apparently very happy, with the sun shining and grass growing under my feet while I am holding a triangle and stick (a kindergarten musical instrument).
Do you have any formal art training or are you self taught?
I always wanted to be an artist, so I went to art school. First, I attended Syracuse University Art School for 2 years, and then I transferred to Parsons School of Design in NYC, where I got a BFA in illustration. I loved both schools. There was actually a Fashion Illustration major back when I went to school.
What are your favorite things/topics to draw/illustrate?
I love drawing anything figurative (my favorites being long, willowy fashion figures and small children) and also am very fond of doing detailed patterns. I also love painting or using pastels and drawing from a model.
Where do you create your drawings? Can you describe what your workspace looks like?
I have a terrific room in my house where I am all set up with my drawing board and supplies. I also have an easel, large closets and bookshelves for supplies, and desk space. Many of my paintings, pastels and framed illustrations are sitting around the perimeter of the room like old friends, so it’s a very nice environment.
What is your drawing process like? Do you prefer to finish a drawing in one sitting, work on it over a number of sittings or do you switch between drawings that you are working on? Or do you do something else?
If I am working on a page from a coloring book, I spend quite a bit of time on the concept and first drawing, then I transfer the basic drawing over to the correct paper. I then ink the drawing in and complete it. I do not do more than one page at one time. But as I am nearing completion, I find that I am already thinking ahead to the next page.
Do you listen to music while you illustrate, if so, what are your musical tastes?
In my studio, I can close the door and put on my Chopin piano music in the background. For some reason, Chopin is the only music I listen to when I create. You would think I would grow tired of it, but so far I have not. I find it gorgeous and soothing at the same time. When I put the music on, it is like a trigger to my brain to start creating.
Does your workspace/environment influence your art work at all?
My workspace does not influence me, but my environment certainly can. For instance, if I have gone to a museum, sometimes looking at a piece of artwork triggers a visual in me. Or if I am on a beach, or traveling to a new place, ideas can come to me for an illustration.
You have published a coloring book/s please tell us what drew you to the coloring book market and a bit about your book and your inspiration for it
I had published a graphic/cartoon memoir about my life with IBS in 2014. In March, 2015, I read an article in the NY Times about the adult coloring book phenomenon, which I had never heard of. I got immediately excited and inspired, and thought, “I would love to do that”! I then thought that combining my fashion figures with detailed backgrounds would showcase my strengths, and I proceeded to get started.
What do you look forward to doing in the next 6 months in the coloring world?
I have already started thinking about my next adult coloring book, which will combine my children’s illustrations with detailed backgrounds and borders. This will be a labor of love, as drawing children’s illustrations are one of my favorite things to do, and I think they will be challenging and great fun to color.
What was the feeling like when you first seen your art work published in a coloring book?
I was very pleased with the result, and it’s wonderful to see the finished product after all that work. I am quite pleased with the book, and love the idea that people are coloring my pages.
What did it feel like to see your art work colored in by someone else?
I think that is the most fun of all. I love seeing or hearing about people engrossed in coloring in the pages, choosing colors, being creative, finding calmness and enjoying themselves.
Do you color as well illustrate/draw/publish books?
I hadn’t really colored in a coloring book since I was a little child. So, when I needed to color some of my pages for the cover and for samples, it was a revelation. It’s not “easy”, and I began to have admiration and respect for the serious colorists out there, and for the beautiful pieces they produce. I now enjoy coloring (it really is calming!), and I follow many of these colorists on social media so I can enjoy and learn from their art.
It can be very difficult managing day to day life as well as publishing a coloring book. Can you tell us about your daily routine and how you manage your time?
I work in the morning on my laptop, where I take care of clerical matters and communications and I try to exercise on my treadmill for ½ hour. I do my artwork in the afternoons.
Publishing can be a creative and a chaotic experience with a lot of learning curves along the way. Tell us the best and worst experiences that you have had creating your coloring book
I worked with a graphic designer, as I was self-publishing, and she was invaluable to me in putting this book together. The best experience for me was conceiving and executing each illustration. I absolutely loved that part, and I learned from the graphic designer about the best paper to do the finished work on, and how to make the best scans, and she helped guide me, especially at the end. The worst part was the actual publishing of the book, and I was happy to be working with someone who knew about formatting and all of the other technical issues. There were many tiny glitches at the end, and I wanted it to be perfect. Self-publishing can be an exhausting, frustrating experience. Happily, all turned out well.
What is your favorite treat/reward for a job well done?
I love stretching out and reading a good book (I am a bookworm also) or watching some very good TV…there’s a lot of that out there now.
Connect with Alecia Blake
Alecia has published her first coloring book and you can find it at these locations