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Interview with Alex Doffing

Alex Doffing, illustrator of Stress Relieving Flower Patterns, is a rockstar artist based in Minneapolis that we are so lucky to have on our team.  Not only is she a talented graphic designer, but she is also extremely brave and not afraid to go for what she wants.  She recently quit her full-time, stable job to travel to Europe for a month and then pursue a freelance career.  

We spent some time asking Alex some personal questions!  We hope you enjoy!

  1.    How did you get your start in drawing?

I have been drawing (and coloring!) since before I can remember. My whole family is pretty creative in their own ways (Dad’s a handyman, Mom’s into decor…) but my grandma is a painter and she and I would sit with her set of desert-hued pastels for hours when she’d visit from New Mexico. It didn’t occur to me until high school that graphic design was a viable career option, and not until after college that illustration seemed feasible as well.

  1.    What are your favorite tools?

My blending stump, a 4B graphite pencil, and a kneaded eraser will always be my favorites. When I’m not making flowers and such for the folks at Blue Star, I have a very realistic drawing style. Hours of blending and rubbing with those three can soothe away any anxieties I might have. 🙂

I’m pretty handy with Illustrator’s pen tool and while I’m slowly getting to know my Wacom tablet, I don’t think it will ever fully replace analog drawing.

  1.    Who inspires you?

Alphonse Mucha! I saw some of his work in real life (for the first time!) while in Rome this spring, which felt a little like destiny. I turned a corner and Bam! There he was, in an exhibition shared with the history of Barbie (which was a pretty weird juxtaposition) in one of the city’s most iconic buildings. I love Alphonse’s line work, his very feminine and organic aesthetic. I love the proportions of his ladies, and seeing his early sketches was absolutely thrilling for me.

He’s been my favorite for ages, but I do follow quite a few contemporary people. Some of my favorites include Kate Pugsley and Teagan White.

  1.    You recently quit your job; how did you make that decision?

I have always wanted to be freelance. For the last few years, I have had quite a few jobs surrounding production art, illustration, print design, and, most recently, art licensing. That job gave me much insight into the world of licensing, with which I hadn’t had much exposure. I was very drawn to the idea of creating self-directed art and generating what they call a ‘passive income’ on my initial investment of time. Plus, there is so much emphasis on collections and patterns, and the specificity involved in making those things is pretty much my happy place.

So, in the spring, I found a licensing agent and also a design client through which I could get a fairly stable income, while still having time to pursue other clients and create artwork of my own. I had already planned to take the trip in May, so that seemed to be the perfect jumping off point. It may have been a little selfish to send my resignation via email (wine in hand, in a Barcelona Airbnb), but it did feel necessary to the nature of the transition. I was in a beautiful place with my favorite person, on an adventure, about to step into another bigger one. So why wait?

  1.    Any advice for anyone looking to take the leap?

A lot of people say “things will fall into place — take the leap and don’t look back!” While this certainly has been the case for me, I think that because I invested so much time in preparation and making connections, I definitely set myself up for success. I believe that if you make the space for it in your life, the universe will send you what you need… but maybe don’t jump blindly. 🙂

I haven’t been doing it long (just since June) and there have been very slow times which are a little anxiety-inducing (but which I try to be grateful for — more time to hustle, and time to work on my own pieces). There are also times where I have so much work I don’t know which way is up. I try to be grateful for those times as well as well because A) money! and B) building connections and building my portfolio will only get me closer to where I want to be. Having a nest egg saved and a generous landlord/lover certainly don’t hurt.

  1.    What is the one thing you can’t live without in the morning?

Kitten cuddles! Coffee with cardamom!

  1.    Your cat, seriously adorable; does he do any tricks?

My cat, Alphonse, is actually a lady cat which is, I know, confusing. She does such tricks as lie in the sun, lie on her back so you can rub her belly, apathetically lie there while you stack a tower of items upon her, and her best trick is to lure you away from your office chair and, like lightning, steal the spot for herself.

She has melted the hearts of cat-haters near and far, and plays little spoon to me every night.

  1.    What is the most interesting thing about you that nobody knows?

Oh gosh, I don’t know. You know how Sour Patch Kids’ schtick is that they’re sour, then they’re sweet? I think I’m like an inside out Sour Patch Kid. First I’m sweet, then I’m real sassy. And I devour dorky sci-fi fantasy books like the Mistborn series, The Kingkiller Chronicle (you’re killing me, Rothfuss!), and a certain “Gentleman” series by Scott Lynch.

But none of those things are a secret. 🙂

  1.    How did you hear about Blue Star Coloring and why did you decide to work with them?

These two are actually related! I saw a friend from college had posted an intricate coloring page on Facebook. I didn’t really know how big the industry was about to get, but it really appealed to my detail-oriented mania. The prospect of making the book was more appealing than coloring the book for me, and so I thought I might try to make one of my own …and sell it on Etsy or something? So, one day last year, I posted my first page on Instagram, Blue Star commented, and I realized that my future publisher had created the book I first saw on Facebook!

So, essentially, a whirlwind of social media, properly used hashtags, and small-worldness led me down the path to where I am today!