Scatterbee - Alexandra
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a freelance illustrator based here in Ottawa. I moved here from Toronto a little over two years ago. I make a range of products and designs that feature animals, people, plants and food. So far, you can find my work in the forms of art prints, cards, zines, buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and tote-bags. I’ve heard my work described as quirky and whimsical, which makes me very happy! I’ve always wanted my illustrations to bring a sense of joy and light-heartedness to the people who
see and use them.
I started freelancing during the Spring of 2017, which was very much a decision that stemmed from the heart. For most of my life, if I wasn’t working or studying, I was spending my free my time creating, admiring and consuming visual art. I finally pushed myself to share my work by creating a separate Instagram account for my art in March of 2017. I actually received my first commission through Instagram! I was beyond thrilled that someone wanted to support my work. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working on multiple commissions, sold my work at craft markets and in local shops, had my work displayed and sold at a local café, and started wholesaling my products. The maker community here in Ottawa is incredibly supportive, which has been such an important factor in the growth of my business. I’m so grateful to call it home!
What was the most extensive project you have worked on to date?
To date, the most extensive project I’ve worked on was an annual drawing challenge called Inktober. The challenge was originally created by an American illustrator, Jake Parker. Every October, artists are invited to create and share one drawing for each day of the month. The drawings are usually based on a list of daily prompts developed by fellow artists. While I’ve loosely participated in the past, I pushed myself to create all 31 drawings this year. I was so happy with the outcome of this project that I created full-color zines containing my work. I managed to sell them at a few recent craft markets, which was extremely gratifying. It was heart-warming to see how total strangers identified with my work. I truly felt seen!
What are the challenges of being an Artist?
Like any job, there are so many! I find that most of my personal challenges stem from two sources: competition and self-doubt. Illustration is such a saturated market that it can feel impossible to add anything new or meaningful. And, with social media, I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Lately, I’ve been trying to limit the time I spend consuming other people’s work, especially in the morning. I’m always looking to strike a balance between seeking inspiration (a.k.a. looking at others’ illustrations) and letting my own creative impulses guide me. And, because I draw from so many different sources of inspiration, I find it difficult to make my voice shine through my work. I often worry about whether or not my work truly feels like “me”. In order to manage these challenges, I have to be mindful and remind myself to focus on what I genuinely enjoy making!
What keeps you up at night?
Just about everything! I’m a notorious worry-wart. In relation to my work, I’d say that I often wonder if I’m pushing myself hard enough. I’m very easily distracted, which means it takes a lot of energy for me to find my creative flow. I’m also self-conscious about the fact that I’m self-taught. I often play the “what-if” game about whether or not I should have gone to art school! Another thing that is currently keeping me up is…tax season! Original, I know. This will be my first time filing taxes as a self-employed person, so I want to make sure that everything is in
What can clients commission you draw?
Since my work tends toward organic subjects, I’m always excited when I’m commissioned to draw or paint people, animals, plants, food, etc. That being said, I recently had the pleasure of painting someone’s apartment, which was a lot of fun! It felt like a “home” portrait. Other past commissions have included portraits (people and pets!), a wedding invitation with hand-lettering, hand-painted logos, and a t-shirt design.One of my professional goals is to have my work in print, whether it’s editorial illustration, food illustration, children’s illustrations, or poster/cover designs, among others. I’m always looking for ways to expand my skill set, so I encourage anyone to contact me with their ideas! I’d love to create something meaningful for you.
What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Cats! All the cats. I’ve had a life-long obsession with animals, but to me, there is something so specifically magnetic about cats. They’re weird, graceful, and full of personality (for better or for worse), which makes them endlessly fascinating subjects. Runner-up: plants! Drawing green things is highly therapeutic for me.
Favourite Restaurant/ coffee shop in town?
Ottawa has such an incredible (and rapidly growing) food scene! These days, I’m head-over-heels for Erling’s Variety . It has the cosiest atmosphere and staff! My partner and I love to sit at the bar and admire the magic of the open kitchen. Their seasonal menu is killer—everything is so fresh and flavourful. Since the menu is constantly changing, it’s tough to recommend anything specifically, so I’ll leave you with this: Try it all. As for a coffee shop—again, it is so tough to pick just one. My current favourite is Arlington Five . It’s honestly what I wish my apartment looked like. Great tunes, good vibes, awesome staff! My favourite drink to order there is their Dirty Chai, which is a Chai Latté with a shot of espresso (and it’s even better on ice in the summer). Food-wise, I can’trecommend their egg salad sandwich enough. It has chips in it. Chips!!!
Who inspires you?
Lately, I’ve been poring over Beatrix Potter’s work. Her art is so warm, soft, and delicate. It makes me want to go for a hike and paint in the woods! In fact, just about any old children’s illustrations inspire me—Richard Scarry’s books, for example. A (very) small sample of other visual artists that are currently inspiring me include: Sha’an d’Anthes, Holly Exley , Lieke van derVorst, Evie May Adams and TomHaugomat. Special non-visual artist to mention are: the
“Don’t Keep Your Day Job” podcast by Cathy Heller. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone who is thinking about taking the plunge and starting a business, especially in a creative field!
Any new exciting projects/ collaborations for 2018?
Yes! I’m currently working on opening an Etsy shop. I’m going to be stocking prints, cards, stickers, zines, buttons, and screen printed tote-bags. I’m also working on creating more video content. I want to make process videos, time-lapses, sketchbook tours, tutorials—the whole gamut. So far, I have one lonely video on my Youtube channel but I’m going to be adding some friends very soon. Lastly, I’m working on expanding my portfolio. I’m pushing myself to shape my portfolio toward the type of work I’d like to receive, such as editorial illustration, food illustration, children’s book illustrations, poster/cover illustrations, and surface/textile design.
As for collaborations, I’m always open! Hit me up-- let’s make something great together!