Young New Zealand artist Alisha Brunton is one to watch. Her works include beautiful illustrations of wild animals adorned with intricate patterns, through to dappled, feminine watercolour text, all in lovely soft colour palettes. We especially love Alisha’s watercolour typographic art prints and their uplifting, positive messages. We caught up with Alisha to find out a little more about what makes her tick, and what’s keeping her busy…
Alisha with her artwork for new illustrated guide to Auckland, The Auckland Book
You’re only a recent graduate, but you’ve already clocked up work doing commissioned illustrations for a number of NZ brands – can you tell us about a few of these projects?
The first project I did, in my final year of study, was a mural for Starship Children’s hospital. I worked with another girl, Andrea, and the mural was based on what the kids at Starship said they would like to invent. We basically ended up making the room look like the inside of a time machine, and through the windows you could see lots of imaginary flying animals. That project was really rewarding because the kids were so excited about it, and they came up with so many creative ideas!
I also worked on The Auckland Book, which has just been released. It’s a really playful, illustrated guide to Auckland. I loved working on that project because the illustrators were given so much creative freedom, and I got to visit cool places in Auckland to do research!
Possibly my favourite project so far has been working on a huge storefront piece for Lululemon in Takapuna. They wanted a big map of the North Shore, with all their partner studios on it, to honour their community. Being a yogi, I’m a Lululemon addict, and I love the values and culture upheld by the company. So this was pretty much a dream commission for me! I got to play with watercolours, bright colours and I drew lots of decorative patterns based on things from nature – pretty much all my favourite things to create!
Alisha working on a mural for Starship Hospital
What are you working on at the moment?
I work full time as a Graphic Designer at the moment, so illustrating only happens on the weekends, or when I can squeeze it into my lunch break! I’m working on a few private commissions like logos, portraits and custom typographic prints. I also spending a lot of time feeding my growing addiction for brush typography. I’ve just released a small range of typographic prints, and I’m working on a few more. They’re all inspired by my love of yoga, and the belief that we all have the potential to live our dreams, we just have to believe we can do it. I hope that having some positive words on the wall can help remind people of this!
A few of Alisha’s newest typographic works as art prints; a work-in-progress with gold paint (love!)
Which NZ artists (of any discipline) do you most look up to? (or, tell us about a person who inspires you)
Oh, there are so many! I love Kelly Thompson’s work, and have done since before I knew I wanted to be an illustrator. Her work is just beautiful. I also shamelessly stalk Sally Shand (Ragdoll Illustration) and Erica Harrison (Supercrafti) on social media. I think part of me secretly wishes I knew more about screen printing!
What/s on the walls of your studio/creative space/home currently?
My two prized artworks are an art print by Sandra Dieckmann (one of my favourite international illustrators) and my Peacock screen print by Erica Harrison. I fell in love with it at first sight (I think endemicworld may even still have a few… endemicworld note: yes, we sure do!)
My studio walls are covered in all kinds of things – polaroids, work my by classmates, a world map and even some prayer flags given to me when I was traveling. If I like it, it goes on the wall!
A peek at Alisha’s lovely little creative space
Besides art/illustration, what else do you love to do?
Yoga! I absolutely love it, and I practice every single day without fail. It quiets my mind and challenges my body. I love that it’s not just a from of exercise, but a way of life. I’ve also found that you always meet the most lovely, open hearted people in yoga studios.
I also have a serious case of wanderlust, and have done since I was little. I’ll be taking my work on the road with me at the end of the year, to Japan, India and then to Europe. I can’t wait! It’s going to be be an inspiration overload. I love that I can work from anywhere in the world.
Finally, what words of advice do you have to anyone looking to make art their career?
The best advice I ever got was just to persevere. Keep making work and putting it out there, it takes a while to build up that first bit of momentum. This is something I still have to remind myself of every day.
The second best was to use your spare time to create the kind of work that you would like people to pay you for. I love typography so I do a lot of it in my spare time. People see that, and now i’m starting to get commissions for the same kind of work.
Lots of people will try to take advantage of the fact that you’ve just graduated by asking you to do work for free. By saying yes, you end up devaluing your own work as well as others in your industry. A job might only take a few hours, but you’ve worked for years to get your skills to where they are, and that’s worth as much as any other service. The exception to that is internships – they are a great way to learn and meet like-minded people.