• Alex-tait-stuio

    Alex Tait: Studio

Illustration

Introducing: Illustrator Alex Tait, on jungles, weird creatures and funny faces

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

Secret hidden faces in illustrations are one of absolute favourite things, and at the risk of giving all the joy away entirely (sorry) I am going to let on that Alex Tait is a fan of them, too. Woop! He’s also into weird sea creatures, jungles and, er, melons; a fruity and strange combination which dictates that he’ll fit in just fine with us.

We chatted to Alex about how he chooses delicious over nutritious when it comes to breakfast, how he’s moved away from pen and ink, and the problem with magazine furniture, as you can read below!

  • Relax

    Alex Tait: Relax

Where do you work?

I split my time between working either at home or at my studio space in Berkhamsted. Up until recently I worked solely at home, but the recent move into the studio has placed me among other creatives which stops me from feeling like a hermit. 

A lot of the time I’ll come up with my ideas when away from my desk. I find that they normally come at an inconvenient time, so I have a long list of notes stored on my phone dating back years. They consist of a phrase or a few words that don’t make much sense, but they help jog my memory when I sit down to work.


How does your working day start?

With a slow inching out of bed into the cold 6:30am morning at the moment. Then a balanced breakfast of coffee with a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. 

Afterwards, I’m at the mercy of public transport – although this allows me to gather my thoughts for the day and get the creative process going. I have a hit list of sites and blogs I usually visit – stuff that gets me excited and motivated to work. I also people watch. It’s becoming much less interesting now though as my regular commute features the same people most days and makes me feel like Truman Burbank.

How do you work and how has that changed?

I primarily used to work in pen and ink at a small scale, but it was a long process and not very practical. Towards the end of my time at uni I began working in Illustrator (more out of necessity than choice,) but it was something I ended up enjoying. It allowed me to get my ideas realised quickly and experiment more than I previously had.

 The jump also allowed me to drop any previous bad habits I had picked up. I’m now less concerned with making things appear “realistic,” so there’s a more humorous and spontaneous element to anything I work on. Having made the change and seeing the results taught me a lesson in trying new ways of working. 

I do still like to draw, even if it is a quick sketch. I find it’s easier to work out any issues that arise in relation to composition and I don’t always have the benefit of being behind my computer, so often I’ll refer back to an idea I drew up on some scrap paper earlier in the day. 

Where would we find you when you’re not at work?

I spend far too much time browsing magazines on my lunch breaks and at weekends. Pretty soon I’ll have to make my furniture out of them. On top of the magazine piles you’ll usually find an empty plate or two – I eat any chance I get, sometimes two dinners (this is preferable but not always achievable, unfortunately). I’m also a pretty avid follower of MMA, so you’ll find me watching it in the early hours of the morning (thanks to the time difference).

Would you intern for yourself?

I fear there’d be a fair bit of thumb twiddling going on because I’d find it hard to delegate. It would be useful to have an extra pair of hands to help out with the admin side of things though – and the occasional chocolate cake run. 

  • Panther

    Alex Tait: Panther

  • Melons

    Alex Tait: Melons

  • Whale

    Alex Tait: Whale

  • Sophisticated

    Alex Tait: Sophisticated

  • Mokele-mbembe_and_skunk_ape

    Alex Tait: Mokele, Mbembe and Skunk Ape

  • Front_cover

    Alex Tait: Solimoes

  • Monkey

    Alex Tait: Solimoes

  • Opener

    Alex Tait: Solimoes

Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. Main9

    Edward Cushenberry actually wrote to me to show me a really interesting photography project he’s working on at the moment. Unfortunately that was about the millionth interesting photography project we had seen this week, but one thing we were a bit short on was brilliant, entertaining, lo-fi illustration we could relate to. Let’s give a warm welcome then to Edward’s comics in which he deals with traumatic or memorable experiences from his own memory, or borrowed from this friends. His drawings cover such life topics as How to Properly Bury A Turtle and that awkward moment when the girl you kissed says that making out with you was “like drinking a glass of water.” Classic. Edward’s got his fingers in a lot of creative pies, but I’d say these comics were our personal favourites.

  2. Sdlist

    Girls just wanna… doodle! Celebrities including Yoko Ono, Sarah Silverman, Pussy Riot and Courtney Love are backing a Kickstarter project to inspire girls to get drawing. Confidence, curiosity, courage and creativity are terms being bandied around by the School of Doodle, which will be “a free online high school for the imagination” where teen girls can take part in lessons taught by artists or peers. It might sound a little cheesy, but with brilliant creatives like artist John Baldessari, Kim Hasreiter, founder of Paper magazine, and Salman Rushdie signed up as teachers, it promises great things.

  3. List_2

    It’s not especially often that creatives flock to Cornwall en masse, but the little nook of England has been awash with activity this weekend due to Port Eliot festival, featuring musicians, artists, fashion designers and journalists. It also saw the launch of The Girl Who Fell to Earth, a story written by Luella Bartley and illustrated by Zoë Taylor, a graphic artist we make no secret of our love for.

  4. Main

    It’s not only the level of detail in Laurie Lipton’s drawings which is crazy; the illustrations are too. With charcoal and pencil she creates bonkers worlds in black and white which look like pictures for a short story written by the love child of Charles Dickens and George Orwell. The blacking factory meets Big Brother.

  5. List

    Ping Zhu is a force to be reckoned with in the world of illustration. Not only is she talented, mastering an inimitable style in every way imaginable, and then using it as very efficient bait to reel in the big clients, The Sunday Times, Pentagram and Nobrow included, but she’s also future proof – developing her style with every project she undertakes to make her as exciting as she is reliable, and delivering consistently good work to a broad spectrum of briefs.

  6. Mt101top

    There’s some schadenfreude at play in Masami Tsukishima’s illustrations. His series Life Of A Salesman follows lonely suited blokes trudging to and from work, talking on their phones and lugging their suitcases. I like how he plays with the angles of his illustrations; life is literally an uphill struggle for some of these poor office drones, as they plod along lanes slanting up and away from them. There’s also some sort of alternate universe in the series, where trains go up in flames and spread-eagled salesmen fall through the sky and run away from looming giant iPhones. One second the salesmen are sedately reading their emails, the next everything has spiralled out of control. The sentiment is a tongue-in-cheek 21st century Japanese rendering of “Slough”. I’m guessing Masami Tsukishima doesn’t wear a suit to work.

  7. Glaserlist

    We adore this article from NYT’s T Magazine today, in which a heap of creatives sing hallelujah for old school artistic tools, with brilliant illustrations to boot.

  8. List

    There are several reasons why we love Kyle Pellet and everything that comes out of his Pellet Factory, but first and foremost on the list is that his work is good, plain, unadulterated fun. There’s no need to muse on his choice of medium, or the narratives which seem to run from one image to the next, or the squishy-faced characters who pop up again and again, because why would you when you can look at them, laugh and imagine you’re running through a gallery with a pack of assorted animals? Turns out he’s been incredibly busy churning out work at an impressive rate, so here’s an update on what he’s been up to! If you’re curious, you can also check out five of his favourite books over here on his bookshelf.

  9. Gflist

    Doodling isn’t just for school kids. It’s about discovery. “It’s a healthy way to let it all out, with no restrictions or external rules,” says Guy, a designer and illustrator. “You just go for it.” Every single page of his sketchbooks is packed with faces, animals, monsters, questions and squiggles. “Sometimes you’ll draw a face or a hand or a dog in a way you’ve never seen or done before and that’s always a good feeling. And sometimes you just make yourself laugh!”

  10. Main9

    Scrolling through Marcel George’s hand-painted watercolour illustrations is like going on safari. Lipsticks hiding behind palm fronds, flamingos stalking around sunglasses, the Lacoste crocodile roaring at trainers.

  11. Dadulist

    There’s something otherworldly about Dadu Shin’s illustrations. Miniature people wander about an overgrown fairy-tale forest, an avatar-like hand reaches out into a tie-dye galaxy, a man walks a lonely path over rocks which form the silhouette of a woman’s face.

  12. List

    As far as I can tell, there will always be a place for clean, stylish, witty illustration in the pages of today’s most esteemed media outlets, and for as long as that is the case illustrator Ben Wiseman isn’t going to have any trouble finding work. He’s nailed his aesthetic, communicating funny, satirical observations in neat, stripped back images and vibrant colours, and sure enough, clients have cottoned on. His portfolio includes a TIME magazine cover alongside work the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and This American Life, a corker of a list which just about makes him Brooklyn’s poster boy for editorial illustration. And thank god, because the black and white pages of the aforementioned publications sure would be dull without him.

  13. Main

    It’s very exhilarating to see people taking something destructive and turning it into something creative; with that in mind please welcome the Computer Virus Catalog.