Alex’s 52-Week Illustration Challenge

This week SO had the chance to catch up with Alex Mackenzie, a young Aussie living and working in the vibrant European city of Madrid.

After spotting some of her work on Instagram, we decided to ask her more about the 52-Week Illustration Challenge that she and thousands of others throughout the world have taken up too.

We wish her all the best with the challenge into 2017!

SO Alex… When did you first pick up illustration?

I’ve never really considered myself an illustrator. I think it would be wonderful to illustrate a book, or to fully write and illustrate a children’s book but I don’t have my sights set on anything professional at the moment.

My passion for drawing and art came at a really young age. I spent lots of time with my cousins and I remember taking the Little Golden Books from my grandmother’s place and my cousin Cate and I would choose a page we both liked and would copy the picture. From then I have always loved art and I have never stopped making art.

When I started high school I had it clear in my head from adults that art couldn’t make you a living so in year 10 I dropped art, and the skills I’d built up over the years began to fade.

Last year I picked up watercolour for the first time. When I moved to Spain it was the perfect form of self-expression for someone who couldn’t speak the language. I threw myself into it.

What is it about drawing that you most enjoy?

I love drawing because it is a way of knowing something deeper. When you spend a long period of time looking at a face, it is no longer just a face, it is a combination of everything that has touched that life. The way their eyes look, the lines of the face, the movement of the hair, the freckles and mouth, they all tell a story. The same goes for non-human subjects. When you begin to see things in a different way, it opens your eyes to the beauty of the world and the uniqueness of each thing.

On a less deep note, drawing is very relaxing for me. Even when I worked long hours on the phone I would draw faces all day. I draw on my lecture notes, worksheets, everything. It helps me to relax and focus.<

Are there particular subjects you like to draw or themes you like to explore in your illustrations? Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I prefer to draw singular objects or people. They are just more interesting to me as the focus allows you to explore each object in greater detail.

I draw my inspiration from daily life, from subjects that interest me and also from things I want to challenge myself with.

I always have a person or people in mind when I paint something because I want my art to be enjoyed. I try not to take myself too seriously.<

What (or who) inspired you to take on the 52-Week Illustration Challenge? 

The way I actually found out about the challenge was through an illustrator I know called Alessandra. She has turned her hobby into a profession. When I saw her post on facebook that she was taking this challenge, I thought it would be a good way for me to improve my painting and drawing across the year whilst challenging myself with different themes and subjects.<

It is also very inspiring and mind opening to see how other people interpret the week’s topic.

Anyone you want to encourage to take up the challenge as well?

If I could encourage anyone to take the challenge it would be EVERYONE. Seriously!

There are so many things I tried as a kid and I gave up on it because I wasn’t as good as others. Now I think, if I had only stuck at that thing ’til now I would actually be good. However, just because I am 22 it doesn’t mean that its the end. There is still so much time to improve.

I encourage everyone to take up the challenge to do something new and stick to it – ‘the expert in anything was once a beginner’.

In this illustration challenge there are people of all ages. Mums posting their children’s artworks, another person posting their 97-year-old father’s artwork…

SO… if these people can take up the challenge, anyone can too!

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