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Q&A with Alex Foster

Freelance illustrator based in Margate, UK

I'm Alex Foster, a freelance illustrator based in Margate, UK. I work on illustrations with various clients, and run my online shop selling prints, clothing and personalised work.

How did you get started in illustration? 

I got started with professional work while I was in University, Barnet Council were looking for an illustrated map of Barnet for the torch route in the 2012 Olympics. That was a fairly good turning point as it was the first project to properly introduce me to the professional world. I had done other commissions before but this was the first 'major' one.

What is a turning point in your professional career?

A turning point so far would probably be my poster for Totally Thames. This was displayed in Train stations across the country, as well as on the London Underground, brochures and banners on the Southbank. The reason this was such a turning point is that I saw these posters just when I was travelling on trains, it made it feel a bit more 'real'. After making this work at home, seeing them printed in busy places being seen by all this people was amazing for me.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your art studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

My ideal work environment is working from home where I can focus or enjoy working with music and podcasts on. But it is definitely good to get out and meet people for work and unrelated work activities - it can get a bit isolating at times if I spend too many consecutive days working without something different in between. Usually my days are broken up by various trips anyway like meetings, delivering prints, packing and posting orders etc.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

I like that you ask if I believe in inspiration, because I do get asked where it comes from a lot. Sometimes it can just be an idea you get when you are reading the brief for whatever the project is. When you are more free to think of creative ideas in a less defined commission, I think that's when there is more scope for inspiration to come along. Sometimes, something from a film, media, story or artists work etc can just make you think of little ideas that would be good for your projects.

Also, sometimes you can be struggling for an idea, or in the research phase where I will be looking at all different things that I would be doing anyway - ideas can come from things you take in like noticing the way people act in a certain situation.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

Margate has some great places to visit for art, the main art attraction here is the Turner Contemporary, which does change exhibition every few months so I always make sure to go and see the latest work there. Then there are other little galleries like the Lombard St Gallery (Formerly Margate gallery), and Pie Factory. I often take trips to London for things like Pick me up at Somerset House, also, I visit trade shows fairly often to see what people are working on and what products and ideas are fresh.