Alex Skyrme is an illustrator who advocates for the fun side of creativity. Avoiding anything too dull, her artworks are full of warm, happy colours and joyful characters – a much-needed dopamine hit as we enter the colder months.
Originally from Blaenavon, a small town in Wales, and currently based in London, Alex Skyrme studied a foundation course as CSM before embarking on a BA in Illustration & Virtual Media at LCC. At first, though, she went into her craft with a slightly different mindset. "I often used to think that for people to take me seriously within the industry, my work needed to be serious," she says.
"This mentality restricted my creativity for quite some years, but luckily, I managed to step outside that practice during lockdown." The pandemic induced a moment of reflection for many and for Alex, this involved trying out a more joyful approach to her practice.
Alex is heavily inspired by fashion, texture, people watching, and hearing people's stories or funny conversations on the go, especially those from the tube. Her customer-facing job also helps to keep her inspirations active, as she tends to meet a broad mix of lovely people with stories to tell. "You never know the next person you will meet, what stories they may tell you and what brought them here along the way," she notes. Once these stories have materialised into an idea, she often douses it with sarcasm and joy, creating pieces that fill your heart with warmth and smiles – like a piece depicting a couple's first kiss or a character walking a giant tiger on a lead.
When crafting an artwork, a pen and notebook will suffice in making one of these pieces, and she'll keep an active list of ideas or drawings to revisit later. "I carry my notebook around me everywhere," she shares. "It's where I feel I can be the most chaotic without anyone seeing it!" Alex tends to jot down funny conversations with passers-by, chats she's had with her therapist or something her boyfriend might have said. Sometimes, it will be whatever's making her happy that day. Colour and composition come next before diving fully into the process on her iPad or Procreate.
Alex's recent favourites involve drawings of fashionable people she's spotted around London and an illustration that says, "Stick a smile on your face" – "I must admit I'm not very good at telling others when I'm not feeling great, and tend to 'stick a smile on my face' to placate others," Alex shares. "I went through a pretty difficult time at the beginning of the year, and after therapy and lots of support from my family and friends, I now know how important it is to peel those smiley stickers off sometimes and not hide your true emotions."
Alex draws whatever brings her happiness. It might be surprising to learn, then, that Alex also dabbles in the more serious topics on occasion, "like mental health, trauma and interpersonal relationships," she says. "I believe that even when breaching these topics, I try to visualise these themes from an optimistic point of view, trying to find the light in these scenarios and find some joy from it."