I don’t know about you but time management and balance truly isn’t my forte. But for Alicia Rogerson aka Ali J, a local Perth illustrator, art isn’t her only priority. Being a busy wife and mum of two takes the lead in her life, but she manages to make time in her jam packed schedule for her creative side – and isn’t she a superstar with colour?
Besides the obvious reason of loving the creative process, Ali uses art as a form of therapy and personal expression. Every piece comes from the heart, and her true feelings are depicted on canvas and paper. I love the idea of creative therapy, as there is no better way to empty your mind than doing something you love.
When I first discovered Ali’s work I was drawn in by the friendly faces and beautiful colour schemes. But when I actually sat down studied her illustrations I knew there was so much more to the pieces than the pretty ladies in bright outfits. (Note: I have to admit when I read this interview I fell even more in love with her stuff, because the story behind it is just beautiful).
Meet Ali J!
Describe yourself in five words?
Caring, inspiring, impulsive, fierce and passionate!
Tell us a little bit about what do you do and why?
I’m an artist and illustrator, depending on the project I am working on. I like to work across a wide variety of styles and subjects so don’t want to limit myself to one field.
I create because I need to, and for me it is as necessary as breathing. Making things is a way of connecting to myself, escaping from my life and into the worlds my mind constructs. Painting helps me think and express feelings when I am unable to show them. Joy, happiness, pain, anger, sadness, disconnection. In the end when the painting is resolved I feel peace and closure, and am able to move forward.
What’s a typical day like in your world?
I’ve got two beautiful daughters, young, vivacious and as fierce as their mum. So no typical day here! My ideal day would be getting up, getting myself and the girls ready for school and having a cooked breakfast. Then off we go for the school dropoff, as my eldest (5) is in kindy I am in the class with her for a while, then I like to go for a session of exercise (run or the gym) with my youngest (2) in tow. An hour of housework, shower and morning tea. Then out to the studio first diving into the admin side for about an hour whilst the youngest chooses what she wants to do – which most of the time is playing with her sisters toys. Lunch. Back into the studio to do some intense creating. Then school pickup, spend time with my girls and prep dinner. Housework then eat dinner and put the girls to bed. After dinner I spend time with my husband and then go back out into the studio until bedtime. I’m lucky that two days a week my youngest is in daycare and my oldest goes to after school care. On those two days I do dinner prep at lunchtime and don’t have to pick them up until dinner is ready – so I get a heap of work done on those days?
How do you juggle art and regular life?
I have found it to be a constant battle, particularly when I am having a hard time with life and want to escape into paintings but can’t. For the past two years I was caring for my husband who was very unwell with mental health issues and time disappeared. Now he is recovering and my children grow older I have this passion and desire to create with an intensity I have never encountered before. Now I try to integrate creating within my life so it is commonplace. My children can do activities in my art studio. I can take my computer outside and work while supervising them. We can go on a family daytrip somewhere while I research. It is actually becoming an experience in itself that the whole family is enjoying, and for me it is rewarding to have them involved instead of hiding it all away.
Where do find inspiration for your paintings?
Photos, objects, people….. the way I find inspiration has changed over the years. Originally I used to use images from fashion magazines – particularly hair catalogues. Nowadays I like to use life or the internet to find a few visuals to start the inspiration process and then as I paint my imagination takes over and adds or subtracts elements. I am currently painting botanical artworks inspired from cuttings of plants and flowers that my husband and daughters find on our travels.
What makes your art different to other artists?
This is a tough question. My art is very personal, reminds people of experiences or people that they know. It helps people to feel, but also helps them to be inspired. It is work that most people can understand what they are seeing even if they do not understand or know the complete story. Each work is very complex right down to each paintbrush stroke, the text that might be used, the colour combinations, the subject matter, the symbolic references. I find that the more people know about the work, the more they find themselves connected to it.
What’s your favourite thing about the Perth creative scene?
When creatives work together to inspire, help and collaborate. Maybe sharing a market stall, or doing work for them in exchange for experience, or trading skills/products. I also love all the workshops, retreats and ‘meet the creative’ sessions. The Perth creative scene is exploding with positivity!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My illustrated vintage inspired cookbook for The Australian Women’s Weekly. Released in 2012 it took six months to produce all the illustrations and I am over the moon by the end result. The illustrations were brought to a new depth as the front cover and chapter covers were photographed in scenes with other elements. I was also the first illustrator ever hired by them externally to create work – so I was super proud.
Anything exciting coming up in the future?
Yes! My new label Dusk Willow is launching in the coming months – primarily stationery and homewares covered in my art. It will be available on my website and markets and I’m excited to have my work on notepads, calendars, pencil cases, pillows, prints and so much more. I’m also collaborating with a fabulous shop to create a window display for the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival. Plus I’ve been working with a number of fantastic clients to create some illustrations for their projects. Lastly I’ve got a ton of new paintings in the works!
Busy lady, tell me your organisational secrets! If you need a piece of Ali’s stunning art in your life (and home) she will be showcasing at the next RAW Perth creative event at the Rosemount Hotel. For tickets and further details get to RAW’s website now. Don’t forget to mention Ali J as the artist you’re supporting for the event! Or if the market scene is more your style she’ll be at the York Bizarre in September. Road trip anyone?
What is your preferred alternative “therapy”? Do you read, create, bake? Do tell!
Ps – Mine is crappy reality TV. Or sweet treats. x