SO excited about the collaboration we’re kicking off today with MSN, where we’re going behind-the-scenes and into the studios of three incredibly talented and totally original artists. I’m a longtime fan of all of them, so it’s been an exhilarating experience to see each artist’s creative process firsthand and hear about how they got their start, what keeps them inspired and which artists are their personal favorites. Big thanks to MSN for partnering with us to make it all happen. First up, we’ve got the artist that the New York Times dubbed “the darling of design blogs” – the one-and-only Alyson Fox. Chelsea brought her camera and accompanied me to Alyson’s newly-built Texas hill country home to step inside her studio…
To get to Alyson’s house, you first travel a long and winding gravel road that, at some point, makes you think that surely you’ve taken a wrong turn. Just when you feel about a hundred miles from civilization, out from the cedar trees and hill country terrain stands a modernist’s dream with geometric lines, giant wood beams and huge panes of glass. The house, designed by Alyson and her husband Derek, was a true labor of love and quite the family affair – Derek’s brother and dad collaborated on the plans and structural design.
Okay Alyson, walk us through a typical work day.
Wake up and out of bed by 7, walk our pup, do some yoga, eat breakfast, tidy up the house, shower, check e-mails, check to-do list, start working on anything that has a deadline, stare at blank walls, neck rolls, play with our pup, draw, computer work, lunch, draw, write down ideas that come to me, snack (I walk to the fridge often hoping something delicious has magically appeared), work on something new, look at old work, repeat some of the above, write a to-do list, wrap up studio time and start making dinner about 6:30. Relax with my husband….but sometimes that involves him helping me with something.
You recently moved from a home in the heart of Austin to a much more rural setting. How has your new environment affected your creative process?
It’s been amazing. It’s so quiet and there are very few distractions. I have my own studio now where things can always live while they’re in progress or before they get thrown out (which happens often). I can’t say that I’m more focused, but I am definitely more at ease and appreciative of the surroundings in which I get to work.
When did you start creating art?
I started drawing with my mom’s eyeliner pencils and lipstick in my closest when I was about 3. My mom was good about keeping me stocked with art supplies after discovering them one day. I remember drawing a lot of houses and birds as a kid. I thought I wanted to be an architect. I didn’t start thinking about art as something I’d actually do with my life until I was a sophomore in college. I loved the feeling of losing track of time when doing something creative, though I don’t think I would call much of what I made art back then.
What do you love about being an artist?
Getting to work though my curiosities.
What do you not love about being an artist?
The internal voices that creep in and ask, “why are you doing this??” Also, the fear of not ever being able to make anything that I like again.
Sample of a rug that Alyson is currently working on with artisans in Bolivia (and they’re even more stunning in person.)
What’s your favorite project thus far in your career?
That’s too hard to answer…but I will say that I loved photographing my “A Shade of Red” portrait series. I got to meet and collaborate with so many amazing women over the year that I worked on it. It really grew beyond anything I ever imagined for it. A wonderful community came together and I will remember those women always.
What’s your favorite medium to work in?
I honestly don’t have one. I mostly work with pencils, watercolors, paper, plaster, fabric, found objects, cameras and wood. I tend to work on several things at once so I feel as if they all are part of a larger project.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Louise Bourgeouis, Rachel Whiteread, William Eggleston, Miranda July, Agnes Martin.
Top 5 favorite places in Austin:
My friend Rachel’s house, San Jose courtyard with a michelada, Uchiko happy hour, Veracruz taco trailer (migas tacos!) and mostly just being at home with my husband and our puppy.
Do you ever get artist’s block? How do you get re-inspired?
Often. I try and walk away from whatever I am working on and cook or read. I have a tendency to get down and let the negativity creep in, but I find if I just say a couple of bad words and walk away from things for a bit, it’s much better than obsessing over something silly.
Tell us about some of your collaborations.
My first collaboration was with Ink Dish on some dinnerware. That got me really excited about the idea of working on products. I did a collection with West Elm for their Holiday 2012 collection that consisted of my textiles on different housewares, and that process made me want to make a lot more rugs. I have a collaboration coming out with H & M ‘s new store, & Other Stories, in April that consists of jewelry, accessories, bags and ready-to-wear. That was very exciting to work on and I can’t wait to see it all finished because I started working with them toward the end of 2011. Currently, I’m working with a new company called Hawkins New York on rugs and blankets. They are so much fun to work with – I hope it never ends. I can’t say enough wonderful things about all of the companies I have collaborated with and how grateful I am to have had those opportunities.
You’ve had major critical acclaim and done some incredible collaborations with national brands over the last couple of years. What’s next for Alyson Fox?
I’m currently working on my own line of woven goods with artisans in Bolivia, Brazil and Africa that I hope to grow and I would love to continue to collaborate with companies and other designers. I’m never 100 percent sure what’s next other than just continuing to stay curious and make things . Even if no one ever sees them.
Describe your art in 5 words:
familiar. odd. evolving. investigative. tactile.
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*all photos by Chelsea Fullerton