Tuesday, 24 July 2012

show & tell - alisa coburn

Foxy Broochalisa

Alisa Coburn's Ink Caravan blog is one of the really beautiful spaces on the interwebs. Its like a coffee table book full of delightful illustration, wonderful photography, vintage images, creative links, crafts and references. I'm always delighted when I notice a new post from Alisa pop up in my Google Reader. She has a great eye and marries images together so beautifully that I'm always entranced by her posts.

Its no wonder then that her pinterest feed is also at the top of my favourites. She's always adding little gems that's she's found around the place, and like me she loves natural forms, vintage illustration, pattern, clothes, fabric, art and design.

Alisa is a talented illustrator and her blog shows her beautiful illustration work made in pencil, watercolour, gouache and ink. She often shares her process, and I love her eye for colour. (I'm really hoping she likes the colour I've chosen for her interview ;-)

She was the deserved winner of the popular choice prize for this year's Umbrella Prints Trimmings challenge for her fabulous folded book made with their beautiful fabrics. It is an amazing piece which I've shown part of below, but worth checking out more closely on her blog.

Alisa joined in with my Big Brooch Swap last year and her foxy brooch (above) was one of my very favourites from the swap We've seen glimpses since of some beautiful gocco prints in the same series that look just as lovely, and so when she (finally) opens her Etsy shop I'll be there at the door peering impatiently in at the window.

On top of all that Alisa is a lovely and thoughtful blogging friend whose encouragement is always generously given. If you haven't been to her place then I really think you should visit. Thank you Alisa for being part of the Show & Tell series.

Alisa Coburn
Melbourne, Victoria.
shop (coming soon... cross my heart!)


1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work

My blog is a mix of illustration, the stuff that inspires me and daily life.

My style is something I find quite tricky to pin. I think maybe it falls into two camps - one that is quite kid friendly with a vintage feel and the other is inspired by the individual in an emotional relationship with nature.  I love to show movement in things like wind and water and I looove drawing people - faces and personalities are endlessly fascinating.


2. Why blog? How did you start?

I started reading blogs as a breather to life with a new baby and a toddler. I felt overwhelmed and needed parenting tips and a creative escape in bitesize portions. I was blown away to discover the huge creative and incredibly generous blogging community out there. Blogs like hop skip jump and Loobylu, to name just a couple, inspired me and helped me keep some level of sanity - I'll always be grateful for that.

I love blogging - It's the perfect opportunity to play with photography and create stories around snippets of life and is a constant reminder to me to have a point. Plus the friendships I've made are just the best!

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?

I've always been a squiggler - my aunty could always tell which bedroom was mine with her eyes shut because it reeked of coloured pencils. I started out in animation and learnt tonnes on the job - mostly about how to be silly and work silly hours. All good training for life ahead.

I'm also a trained graphic designer, art director and I spent my last 6 fulltime work years before kids as a promo director at the BBC. Illustration has been a part of all of those jobs but I've never actually called myself an illustrator before now. I obviously have a thing for reinventing myself.


4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
We currently live in a shoebox flat, so my creative space is a very snug corner of the main living space sandwiched between the girls bedroom door and the kitchen table. The creative mess tidal wave often sweeps across the kitchen table. Needless to say I fantasize about having a proper studio that I don't have to tidy.

5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
I wanted a name that sounded fun and evocative. It took a while to settle on one but I quite like ink caravan. To me it suggests exploration and adventure, maybe an intriguing parade of characters or that wonderful studio space tucked into a forgotten corner of a garden that I pine for.

6. Favourite media to work in?
I mainly work with pencil, ink and watercolour or goauche on paper but I also adore printmaking - I love that it leaves room for happy accidents and imperfections - imperfection is something I'm learning to embrace.

Open journal

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
Oooh I have heaps of these. One is to fine tune ink caravan as a brand and open an Etsy shop - I've been threatening to for ages. I got quite close to opening the virtual doors but then realised I really didn't have enough variety of stock. I've been busy dreaming up some new ideas to remedy that. I'd love to do another children's book, a printing workshop would be lovely, more working with collage in fabric and felt, some animation... and... and... and... !

8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
My deskspace is usually a very good reflection of my headspace. Too neat isn't healthy, it may mean that the creative anxiety levels are raging, but too messy can mean I'm totally lost, adrift in too many half finished thoughts. I think pretty and tidy-ish is a good place to be.


9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
Oh that's tricky! There's no way I could pick just one. The handknitted woollens we were given for our babies by Mark's mum, the needle felted pond with mother duck and ducklings given to the girls by a clever aunty, plus so many lovely things that have come to live with me through blogland.

10. Favourite food/recipe?
I looove breakfast! Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, full english, pancakes, coffee... all of it. Preferably consumed on a lazy morning in the best relaxed cafes around the world every Sunday for the rest of my life. Ahhhh!

11. Favourite colour?
I used to be able to answer this question with 'greenish blues' but now I tend to think more in terms of combinations and have fallen in love with so many others. In fact I'm pretty sure there isn't a colour out there that can't be made dazzling in the right combination. I wonder which colour Susie will give my banner. : )


12. Star sign?

13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
Someplace with a view of the sea or being up high where I can see the whole sky. Most of the landscapes I've loved are intertwined with the thrill of travelling - Early morning mist falling down the cliffs into the sea at Santorini, The sparkling Cinque Terre coast, The green parks of London in summer and the colours in the Scottish Highlands. I just don't think I've settled on my ideal yet.


14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Not convinced I'm all that good with this one, I was hoping you might know some. I'm just grateful for having a supportive partner.

15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
This is just a drop in an ocean of incredible talent but artists... Paul Klee, the lithographs of Henri Toulouse Lautrec and Édouard Vuillard, Modigliani; Edward Ardizzone, Japanese woodblock prints, Laura Carlin, Carson Ellis, Raquel Aparicio, Isabelle Arsenault, Violeta Lopiz...

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
I'm really proud to have worked with Alison Johns on the children's book 'Amelia has Cancer' it is a valuable resource that was sorely needed for newly diagnosed children.


17. Three words to describe yourself?
Optimistic, chatty, playful.

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Playing with my kids, making things for my kids, visiting places with rich history, cruising museums and galleries, watching vintage films and animation, reading children's picture books, having coffee with buddies, pinning, baking...



  1. Yah! So happy to see Alisa here :) She's one of my all-time favourites. Fabulous learning more about her too. Cannot wait for your Etsy shop to open Alisa! I'll be peaking through the window too :) Kx

  2. Oh Susie, it's lovely! Thank you so much! I'm blushing and grinning from ear to ear.
    ps. Love the colour you chose. ; )
    pss. Thanks Kylie, I'd better make sure the glass is clean then. ; )
    Alisa xx

  3. Thanks for the introduction to Alisa - her work and blog. That book she did with the fabric and stitching to make a kite is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!

  4. What a fantastic interview ~ I absolutely love Alisa's work ~ such a clever and kind lady. x

  5. Lovely interview! I agree, I'm always pleased to see a new post by Alisa pop up in Google Reader!

  6. A very interesting read, thank you - and a new blog to check out!

  7. I love those illustrations. Always happy to discover a new (to me) blog to delve into x

  8. Love love love Alisa's work it's SO gorgeous!

    What a wonderful interview...it's so lovely to learn a bit more about someone I really admire and who is so inspiring, even more so now after this interview! :)

    Thank you!

  9. Love Alisa she has such a thoughtful approach! Always a pleasure to read your interviews Susie xxx

  10. fantastic! coffee table book is such a fitting description for alisa's blog and work ~ it's all so gorgeous.
    thanks for popping over too susie xx

  11. Yay Alisa! Loved to see the splashing in puddles sketches. I don't think I had seen that artwork before. Adorable.


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