Our designer interview today is with Alex Pook-Leary, who has recently graduated from London College of Communication with a degree in surface design and exhibited at New Designers, London.
When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?
I’ve always been a very creative person. I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember and would always be doing all sorts of arts and crafts activities. At school I loved Art and Fashion & Textiles but it was in my Foundation Year that I realised what I enjoyed the most was making patterns with my illustrations and experimenting with them by applying them to different products and surfaces. This is when I decided that I wanted to study Surface Design at university and be a Surface Designer.
What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?
I think the biggest and most important step for me was moving from Bournemouth to London to go to University. London has had such a huge influence on my work, particularly from countless visits to the museums on offer here. Secondly my course really got me to think about what types of products I wanted to make and which ones would suit my designs, thinking like this has made a massive difference to the way I design.
How would you describe your style?
I really love monochrome, which is probably why I draw in black pen so much but I love getting metallic gold or copper into my work where I can. And whether it’s in fashion or not, my style will always revolve around anything botanical and animal related.
What kind of designer do you want to be known as?
Most of my inspiration comes from natural history, it’s a theme that runs through most of my work and I would definitely love for it to stay that way. I’m not too fussed about being on trend because I want to be a designer who creates distinctive prints and patterns that will be always be loved.
What are you working on currently?
I have recently graduated from London College of Communication and exhibited at New Designers so I am currently looking into the possibility of having my wallpaper designs from my final major project put into production. I am also taking part in the Make It In Design Summer School this July, which I’m really excited about!
What advice would you give emerging designers wanting to build their portfolios?
I think it’s important to have a good range of everything you’ve done in your portfolio but to make sure that your personal style stands out. Also, online presence is a must. I am obsessed with Instagram as I think it’s the best way to show your work off in all different stages of designing as well as showing your influences and inspiration in between. I feel like Instagram acts as a never-ending, mini portfolio.
What would be your dream design gig?
I would love to walk into a shop like M&S or Paperchase and be able to pick up a product and say ‘Guess who designed this? Me!’
Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?
For now I’d really like to do some freelance and apply to competitions and mini courses to build on my portfolio some more. What I would really love is to work for a print design company where I can just draw all day long.
If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?
I love patterns that have loads of different parts to them, whether it’s layers upon layers or it’s something like loads of different animals hiding in a jungle. I would be one of those patterns you just can’t stop looking at because that’s the best kind of pattern!
Alex is an Illustrator and Print Designer in London, who’s studied Surface Design at London College of Communication (UAL) specialising in illustration and screen printing. Her work is often inspired by collections of classified specimens found in natural history museums and her designs focus on recreating a fascination with the cases of pinned insects and taxidermy animals displayed in these museums. Alex’s aim is to capture the beauty of the natural world and explore the scale and pattern of creatures normally just seen behind glass so that they can be appreciated in everyday life. Using a combination of screen printing and Photoshop she creates designs for home interiors and stationery.