Alexi K’s surface designs are as unique as he is. After learning how to draw by studying comic books as a kid, Alexi was soon inspired by architecture, modern movements, and bright colors. Through this lens, Alexi creates bold patterns that are sure to start conversation. Learn more about Alexi and what inspires him in the latest installment of our Featured Artist series.
Where do you live?
I live in Birmingham, in the UK, in a region called the ‘Midlands’. This is the heart of the Industrial Revolution and where Heavy Metal was invented (local bands include Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and half of Zeppelin). It’s a gritty city, and to prove my point, Spielberg was here a few weeks ago filming his next sci-fi thriller in the street next to my studio. Apparently the area resembles a post-apocalyptic Detroit. The mind boggles.
What inspired you to start creating?
Comic-books got me started. They taught me to draw as well as read. From that, I got into sci-fi, then Picasso and Cubism, Boccioni and Futurism, the Constructivists, Bauhaus…anything that looks futuristic and cool.
Tell us about your creative process. How has it evolved since you started?
I was always into drawing, and then painting. When I began painting, I used to design everything on a computer first, then print it out and paint the larger ‘real’ version. However, I quickly became bored because I already knew what the outcome would be – I’d already spent a load of time designing it on the computer, so there was no spontaneity left.
Now, when you see one of my stripy abstracts, it originates entirely from the blank canvas. I want to enjoy the surprise. What I then find is that certain artworks have a personality. Some are difficult, and if they were a person you’d slap them. Others are easy and resolve themselves quickly – but those are rare. It takes me ages to ‘balance’ a composition satisfactorily, especially because my style is non-symmetrical and non-repeating. For converting to textiles, you have to pick the best bit, and make that the repeating pattern, so that’s another challenge, but a fun one. It’s all about ‘the edit’.
What is your studio or workspace like? Do you have a routine when working in your studio?
My studio is a mess. The only routine is that I have no routine. My commute is roughly an hour, and I’m always missing my train, so it’s not unusual to get in around midday. That’s fine in the summer, when we get long days, not so good in the winter when it’s dark at five and you’re trying to mix paint colours under artificial lights. If I want to continue working after dark, I’ll paint with the idea that I’m making ‘placeholder’ marks that may get re-painted if they don’t look right in the daylight. I use a lot of masking tape, and I love straight lines and stripes and abstract shapes, so re-doing the things I painted the night before isn’t a problem. Especially in abstraction, it’s all about the edit.
Where do you seek inspiration for new designs?
Usually it’s something completely random, like an intriguing colour combination on Japanese packaging, or a Google map of an area, or a torn advertising poster. Birmingham is incredibly multicultural, so you’ll see some amazing people and clothes on the street. This diversity is a great asset as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to live in a society that has small-minded views and limitations. Therefore I always carry a camera on me.
What is your favorite medium?
I guess pen on paper, paint on canvas, and recently, I did a large mural for a firm of architects made out of thick tape. I also still use the digital medium to create digital-only art and graphics. I love graphics and tinkering with my blog to make it look cool. So a healthy mix of analogue and digital mediums.
Favorite color combination?
This is something that will change on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis. But I do like most colours, as long as they’re blue..!