Starting out as a graphic designer, Alice describes her journey to becoming an artist as an organic one. Her love of colours and fun, light-hearted style is not only reflected in her art, but her surroundings – her beautiful light-filled home filled with playful trinkets and vibrant wardrobe (she picked out the brightest piece from Esse to wear for this photoshoot).
While we cannot claim to be art connoisseurs, Alice’s art draws you in with its soft shapes and complementary colours. Art that is accessible, that you want to hang in every room of your home to lift the mood.
As she gets to painting, Alice puts on a playlist (‘It’s quite a mix’, she says) of ‘90s pop, movie themes and Scribe. She sits comfortably on the floor with her paint and equipment splayed around her. This beautiful ease translates into her paintings that are so palatable and fun (we love art that isn’t too stuffy).
It was such a joy working with Alice on the design for the limited edition Esse Art Tote to raise funds for Sustainable Coastlines, and now we’re excited to share her story. Read on to learn more.
Hi Alice! Please tell us more about yourself.
Hola Alicia! Where to start haha well, I’m Tauranga gal born and raised and now living in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. As a kid I painted as a hobby and always enjoyed creating although I thought I was going to be a town planner! I even did my first year at Otago University working towards that career before I realised it really wasn’t for me. In the end I studied graphic design and eventually took up painting again in my late 20’s. These days I split my time between being a freelancer designer, artist and a bit of ceramics. I also have a lovely kitty called Larry. He is laying on me purring as I write this.
How did you start your career as an artist?
I think I sold my first painting when I was maybe 14 so let’s say then haha or even as a kid when I painted for the first time. I guess I started thinking of art it as part of my career in 2017. I’d created a body of work after a long hiatus and wanted to show it. I couldn’t find any gallery with time in the schedule and I wanted to show it then and now, so I ended up hiring a space and putting it on myself. It was really awesome to see it all together in a room and to see everyone interact with the paintings. I’ve just carried on from there really.
We’re huge fans the bright splashes of colours and abstract shapes in your paintings. What inspires your art and what are some recurring themes?
Thank you! I definitely love colour. I create with passion and draws on my experiences and intuition to inform my work. If I’m not in the mood to paint, I don’t, because I like to have good vibes going into my works. My love of nature can be seen in the organic shapes and textures in my works as well. Nature is awesome, from the cosmos to coral to gemstones. I also don’t believe in colouring between the lines which you'll see as you look closer and notice the paint often spills out onto the frames of my paintings.
What is your process of creating art?
For me it’s quite intuitive. I often can see it in my mind before I create it. Sometimes there can be long periods without feeling anything so I like to just let that be and not pressure myself. I always know that eventually inspiration will come. I usually don’t plan or sketch my works either, I just choose colours and start. The only works I make a light plan for are the hills. I love to just see where the pencil goes.
What does environmental conversation mean to you?
It’s super important that we talk about the environment. Not only is global warming happening and the ice caps melting, but we are also polluting the oceans with micro plastics, cutting down rainforests and destroying all sorts of natural habitats for other species. But we shouldn’t give up, it’s not too late to do better and to make a change. One small thing I do with my practice is reuse packaging. So, if you ever purchase my work, it will usually come in bubble-wrap, tissue paper and boxes that I reuse. It may not be the prettiest but it helps reduce waste. I’m also planning to do more community activities such as a local planting day with a group who plants natives on the maunga of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and the beach clean-up days with Sustainable Coastlines.
Alice wears the Silk-Cashmere Scoop Neck Rib Blouse and Japanese Denim Trousers.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind the painting that is featured on the tote bag.
‘Out for a Walk’ tells the story of a classic kiwi summers day out with fresh air, swimming and fun times. Walking through the hillside on the way to a secret beach. At the end of the day heading home sun-kissed and sandy, maybe with a tummy full of fish n chips, as the sunsets. There’s nothing like a nice deep breath of clean fresh air.
Let’s delve a little bit into fashion and your wardrobe. How would you describe your personal style?
Colourful and eclectic probably. I love colour, black is almost completely gone from my wardrobe. I also love op-shopping and mixing and matching those finds with quality pieces, like your Silk-cashmere scoop neck rib blouse. The green is so vibrant and it’s soooo soft and goes with all my skirts.
Which Esse pieces are you loving so far?
What are you currently working on and what’s next for you as an artist?
I’m currently working on a few pieces for some group shows coming up at a gallery I show my work at which will be really cool. I’m also working on some new ceramic vases and pretzels which are always fun. I’m not sure what is next for me but I’m sure it will reveal itself to me in time. I’m going on a trip to Peru in a few months so I’m sure something will come from that too.
Portraits captured by Cindy Leong.