Alice Tams Birds in Hats -Meet the Maker JULY July 08 2015

Tell us a bit about yourselves. Can you recall how and why you became a 
maker? 
 
It's hard to pin point a particular day when I decided to become one. The inclination was always there, I've loved to paint/draw/illustrate/create since I can remember, but deciding to make it my full-time vocation crept up on me. It was a process of working full-time at a pub, as well as illustrating, for a long time. Working very hard & dropping shifts when I could & replacing them with artistic work. I'm all for the dramatic 'quit your job' stories but I was pretty cautious - I quit once I had got down to one shift a week!
What are your main inspirations and influences for the work?
Definitely birds! - I have more bird encyclopaedias and guides than is sensible. I'm inspired largely by botanical & scientific illustrations, particularly Audubon's birds & I love the kind of colour you find in Hockney and Rousseau paintings. 
 
What is the process?
I'm usually working from 5 or so pictures of a bird from various books and photos & I'll sketch out a pose that I think suits the character that I'm trying to make. Then when I'm happy with the composition I'll get it on the lightbox and use a fine calligraphy pen (my current favourite are Kuretake Zig letter pens - try them, you'll never go back) to do all the detail work in on bristol board. I let that dry and get my vast collection of pencil crayons (Prismacolors or Polychromos usually) out and start sharpening! I layer up the colours, going from light to dark, I get through a lot of crayons... There's very little digital manipulation, I just scan it in and clean up the background, adjust the layers etc. 
               
What do you enjoy most about being a maker?
Doing something that makes me very happy, more than I possibly could if it wasn't my job. Even when I've had a month of solid emails, accounts and spreadsheets I have to remind myself I have it pretty good.
Oh and I get to listen to podcasts/watch tv shows while I work. That's a luxury!