Art Digital Art

Q & A With Alexis Franklin

At what age did you start creating art and what types of things would you create?

I’ve drawn for basically my whole life. I started when I was around three years old. To be honest, pretty much everyone draws (even if it’s just a little) when they’re very young. I suppose artists are just typically the ones who never stopped.

When I was younger, I would draw whatever was on my TV screen, and being the age that I was, it was almost always cartoons. So, I was constantly pausing the TV and sketching whatever animated character was there, on a sheet of copy paper I’d take from the printer.

What medium did you start working in at the beginning of your artistic career?

I would just use pencil and paper—not even colored pencils. I was always scared of using color on whatever I’d drawn. I was worried that if I messed up on the color, it was going to ruin whatever I sketched. If you look at the earliest stuff I would post online, you won’t see very many colored artworks at all.I definitely could’ve just copied my artwork and then colored on the copy, but I never did, for some reason.

What made you stick with digital art as your main medium? What do you love about it?

Digital art is very freeing, in my opinion. I change my mind a lot, and digital art is the only medium that can easily keep up with that.

I have great fondness and respect for traditional painting (oils, gouache, acrylic, etc.), and digital art will probably never really capture all of the awesome textures traditional mediums have to offer, but it comes quite close if you know how to use it.

Also, there’s no cleanup afterwards, and the artworks are already digital image files, so you can print it out quickly. It’s just very convenient, and like I said, with a few clicks, I can change up whatever colors I want, and I do that often. The best part is, I never run out of paint.

2

I know that you draw as well. What are the pros and cons when comparing digital art and drawing traditionally?

Traditional art provides much more control. It provides an amount of control that digital art will never be able to duplicate, so I would say that that’s the biggest “pro.” However, when drawing traditionally, you’ve got all of these pencils laying around and all of this paper and you’ve got different pencils that do different things that you have to keep up with, and the whole process can really just take up a lot of space sometimes.

With digital art, I need one stylus and one screen, and I’m set. I can morph my digital “pencil” in to whatever I want. Still, like I said, even though it can come very close, digital art won’t ever truly offer the type of control traditional art offers.

You have a distinct style that sets you apart from others and I can easily know your work without being told. What was your journey like in developing your artistic signature?

I’m still on that journey, honestly. I constantly change up how I paint from start to finish.

The older I’ve gotten, though, the more and more I’ve grown to absolutely love traditional oil paintings, whereas when I first started doing digital art, I only studied digital artists. A lot of digital artists’ work looks digital, and that is not at all a bad thing, but I’ve recently garnered a passion for having my artwork look like it was painted traditionally.

However, I’ve always loved texture, since the very beginning. I love making an absolute mess of things and bringing it all together in the end, while not entirely erasing the mess I made before. It gives the piece character, to me.

1

Do you use a reference for all of your illustrations or are some of the people made up?

I use reference in pretty much all of my illustrations, because I love reimagining people, and adding or taking away things about them that make them who they are, and essentially creating a whole new person.

You focus on portraiture in your work. Why is that? What about people do you like to capture, what about them inspires you, etc.

I focus the most on portraiture because people are interesting. Random strangers are the most interesting to me, because you get that first glimpse of them, and that’s about all you know, and probably will ever know. I find myself looking at strangers and coming up with stories about who they are.

Portraiture is just my way of telling a story, I guess. I find that every time I’m painting someone, it’s a constant game of figuring out what makes that person them. It’s really interesting, actually, trying to capture the essence of a person. I’ve found that something as simple as the tilt of the tip of their nose or the way the corner of their lips curls can make all the difference. So, putting those little pieces together is what’s the most fun (and the most frustrating, in some cases).

The most inspiring thing about people is the fact that no two of them are the same. Every single person has their own story and their own personality and their own fashion sense, and that’s all it takes to inspire me, really.

4

If you could meet anyone that you have illustrated who would it be and why?

Probably Jack Falahee. I’m not sure why, but he just seems like he’d be fun to hang out with. He was actually one of the first portraits I ever did, digitally. I should paint him again.

I’d also love to meet Cillian Murphy (who I’ve only drawn, not yet painted), simply because that man’s facial structure is probably one of the most fascinating I’ve ever seen.

From what I’ve seen you do not illustrate the same person more than once which is something one seldom sees. Why is that?

I’ve never really thought about it, but it’s probably because I love diversity so much. Not only do I not illustrate the same person twice, I constantly have a mixture of all different races, because I simply love representation. Any art that tends to focus on just one type of subject can easily get boring to me. I just don’t believe in constricting myself, because the world is full of a variety of different people living in different places, experiencing different lives, and I love to capture that in what I do.

That being said, I’m not opposed to illustrating the same person twice. To me, that’s actually great practice. I’m just always so eager to tell the next “story,” if you will, that I change up my subjects with each piece.

3

What is your dream collaboration? Either with another artist or a company.

I’d love to see what could come of a collab between me and Ignasi Monreal (a digital artist based in Madrid). He’s got such a different mind, and I feel like I could learn a lot from him.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Include a unique name for your color.

This took me for-e-ver to come up with, but I’d probably go with “Grass Is Greener” because I’m passionate about a lot of things. I shoot and edit videos (that’s actually my main source of income right now), I’m obsessed with music –– If I could play any instruments or knew some type of musicprogram, I’d definitely be making music on the side. I dabble in photography, though I’d never call myself a photographer, because I’m nowhere near that. I just really appreciate a good picture.

With all of these passions that I have, I often find myself rotating constantly through what my main focus is. At this time in my life, it’s painting, and though that will probably always hold the highest place in my heart, quite often there are times in which I don’t paint for like a month or so, and I’m just obsessed with everything cinematic, and I’m constantly shooting and editing videos.

I think of my passions as a big field, and I’m always moving to whichever bit of grass is greenest to me at the time.

5

Where is your favorite place to eat in Texas?

My favorite place to eat in Texas has got to be Saltgrass. They just get me. Not the best place to go, if you’re on a diet, though.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to and why.

I’m not really versed in art history at all, but I do love the Baroque period, not necessarily for the subject matter, but for the textures and the way the artists from that time really understood anatomy.

I feel like I am nowhere near worthy right now, but Diego Velázquez and Caravaggio are my favorites from that period. Also, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux is someone I really admire. He’s a sculptor, but painting is like sculpting in many ways, so I do study his works a lot.

If I could have their understanding of form, and apply it to my modern art, that would be a dream.

Be sure to follow Alexis on Instagram (@alexis_art) and Twitter (@alexisvicki)!!

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