Alice And The Ink on making meaningful work, avoiding burnout, and why you shouldn't be afraid of failure
South East London-based multidisciplinary artist Alice Roseberry - Haynes, also known by her creative name Alice And The Ink, has forged a career out of staying true to herself and following her passions. We caught up with her to hear how she achieved it.
Alice And The Ink has worked with some of the biggest names in the business. The BBC, Channel 4, Skepta, The Streets and Depop are just a handful of clients she's collaborated with to create illustrations, motion graphics and design assets. So it's something of a surprise to learn that her artistic career is built on an unrelated background.
After achieving a distinction in the Foundation Diploma Course at the London College of Communication, University Of The Arts London, Alice went to the University of Manchester to resume her deferred place to study mathematics. Despite realising that a career in maths was not suited to her interests, Alice stuck it out, bagged a first, and then followed her passions. It's an approach she's followed since, as her professional work is built around a love for music, fashion, food and culture.
But how did Alice make this radical gear change? And what should other people do if they feel like they've made a misstep and need to course, correct? We caught up with Alice to learn more about her fascinating journey.
What did you do when you left university?
I spent a year after graduating taking part in short courses in London studying subjects and software such as 3D printing, Zbrush and After Effects. I thought a career in VFX would be the most suitable for me as it can be both technical and creative.
I ended up studying a 12-week full-time 3D for VFX course at Escape Studios London and then landed a job at Framestore as a 3D technical director. I worked at Framestore for about three and a half years. I was then offered a place to study motion design with Created whilst occasionally working on freelance illustration projects on the side. In August 2020, during the pandemic, I was actually made redundant and decided it was the perfect opportunity to give freelancing a go.
How would you describe your style?
As I'm a multidisciplinary artist specialising in illustration, design and motion, I guess my actual visual style varies quite a bit as I work with different mediums! My illustration work constantly evolves but usually adopts bold lines and sharp shadows or highlights.
Recently though, I have been experimenting with a more soft and noisy approach in my personal work, which has been fun to play around with, and I hope to use it in my professional work too. I'm aiming to start playing around with art mediums that aren't digital, such as mural creation and painting on garments of clothing, so I'm looking forward to translating my style into something more physical.
Regarding subject matter, I tailor my professional and personal work around my interests in music, fashion and culture. I also love using humour in my work and anything I can find a visual metaphor for!
What inspires you?
I draw so much inspiration from life outside of my work, whether that's listening to or experiencing live music, travelling to new places, walking around London and observing others, visiting art and fashion exhibitions, getting out into nature or being around friends.
It's so important for me to have a life outside of my work, as this is where I find new ideas forming, and it also prevents burnout. I also think my drive to always strive to be better and the excitement of not knowing where my work could take me is a huge inspiration.
Much of your work covers important issues. Why is it important to you to create something meaningful?
I like my work to be quite balanced, focusing on subjects that bring me joy, covering societal issues, and reacting to what's happening in the world. Highlighting problems that we as humans experience, whether political, environmental or mental, is important as art can make a statement and be understood globally, allowing people to think and change their perspective of the world.
I also think that occasionally making light of the negative things we experience can help us deal with them a little better. During the pandemic, I definitely used my art as a personal coping mechanism to vent some of my frustrations with how the UK government was tackling this difficult time, which I think resonated with many people.
However, whilst I love political satire, nowadays, I do try to make sure that I'm not just making work focusing on the news, as it's very easy to get caught up with doom scrolling and just seeing the negative in the world.
One of my favourite, more meaningful projects I've worked on recently was E4's Reset & Rewind episode featuring Miraa May: How to Deal With Unhelpful Thoughts, part of the series that helps with young people's well-being. Most people experience mental health issues at some point in their life, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to draw inspiration from my struggles and create a visual guide that can hopefully, in turn, help others.
Over the last few years, I have also been creating more work related to the environment. For example, I created visuals for Nando's ahead of their COP26 campaign to accompany their Carbon Jargon dictionary, which aimed to make environmental buzzwords more understandable.
What have you learnt most about yourself since graduation? It's been a turbulent time.
I studied mathematics at university, and I knew towards the end of my degree that I wasn't doing what I wanted with my life. Sadly, I felt incredibly lost and full of regret. I knew I wanted to do something more creative, but I could not see a path for myself, everything felt very inaccessible, and this was a result of my choices. It was quite a hard time.
A few years after I graduated, I started drawing again just for myself, and I finally began to feel that drive and joy in my life again, something that I hadn't felt in a while. I think the main reason I didn't draw for ages is that I feared my work would be rubbish or a failure. Therefore, I have learnt never to underestimate my abilities and the power of hard work and to trust my gut and go for it.
I would also like to note that I've only recently realised and appreciated the importance of taking time out of work to prevent burnout, find new inspiration and realise your worth is far more than just what you create.
What advice would you give to others hoping to do the same as you?
Just go for it; what have you got to lose?! Don't let fear of failure hold you back, even if you don't currently have a creative background. Start working on small personal projects just for fun, and try to be consistent and create every day, even if you can only carve out 30 minutes of free time.
This isn't exactly groundbreaking advice, but personal projects are great because you'll be working with a subject matter that you're interested in, so ultimately you can use these to draw in clients that relate to this work.
Other than that, don't spend too much time on Instagram. Just use it as a tool to self-promote but don't endlessly scroll. You'll only end up getting disheartened or mimicking the work of another creative. Also, you could be using that time to make something yourself!