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Process: Alexandra Cook

Alexandra Cook takes inspiration from Kawaii culture, street style, nostalgia and the “dumb stuff I’ve collected,” to create her pastel-hued, ethereal world.

 

 

Working out of her flat-cum-studio, the Central St Martins and London College of Fashion alumni produces an eclectic range that spans illustration, clothes and tongue-in-cheek jewellery under her namesake brand ALXNDRA. From intricately illustrated dresses, to reimaginings of classic album covers, to illustrations of her travels, the common theme running through her work is its distinctive ethereal aesthetic.  

 

 

To mark the launch of her first T-shirt with us, we asked her to talk us through her process. For insights into her working environment, how she takes inspiration from music, and her favourite illustrated books, read on. 

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Alexandra Cook photographed by
Alexandra Cook, courtesy of Alexandra Cook

Studio

The space where I usually work isn’t so much of a studio as a desk area situated in the living room of my flat. My boyfriend kindly agreed to let me take over practically all of the living room to create a better environment to work in, in exchange for letting him leave all his music equipment practically everywhere else! It works.

Alexandra Cook Studio Space
Alexandra Cook Studio Space

Toys

I am a big old kid essentially, who never gave up on collecting toys. I have a fair collection of little ceramic/plastic/plush figurines of Japanese memorabilia or artist-designed toys. I have a whole bookcase filled with things like this and I call it my corner of “dumb stuff I’ve collected” and the stuff I have on display is only partial as I have more in storage. I don’t really have an answer to why I collect this stuff apart from it is cute… It definitely is a part of my inspiration (or at least that’s my excuse!)

Alexandra Cook toy collection
Alexandra Cook toy collection

Nostalgia

The reason I like collecting toys is really an extension of my interest in the concept of nostalgia. I feel nostalgia is an important emotion and I like the idea that you can feel a sense of nostalgia for a time or an object just because it is old, even if you have no personal connection or memory yourself. Japanese culture has an incredible view on its own historical nostalgia with its continuation in many different traditions across the country, and these little handmade figures all have their own meanings yet were just created as toys for children. I definitely feel my own sense of nostalgia to Japan despite it not being part of my heritage, but I can create my own memories by visiting it. I bought these two Inu Hariko dogs (left is ceramic and right is paper mâché and fabric) and kitsune fox figures from a stall near the Sensō-ji shrine in Tokyo. I fell in love with all these and I bought them to add to my collection, now they are a source for my own nostalgia.

Alexandra Cook toy collection
Alexandra Cook toy collection

Fruits

Street style has always been an interest to me, and the idea that one item can and will be worn in many different ways depending on the wearer. I don’t keep up with it as much as I used to but I am very fond of my collection of the Japanese magazine Fruits (only a handful pictured here). Sadly Fruits is no longer in print but I still love flicking through these old editions and marvelling at the bold choices of the Tokyoites roaming the streets. It reminds me to have fun with my wardrobe, and also with anything I plan on designing.

Fruits Magazine
Fruits Magazine

Children’s Books

My love for collecting continues with children’s books, graphic novels and artists’ books. The ones on display here are some of my favourites, although it was hard to choose! Seeing what other illustrators are getting the chance to publish is a huge inspiration for me, not just through their gorgeous linework and story ideas but also because it is something I would love to achieve myself one day.

Alexandra Cook children's book collection
Alexandra Cook children’s book collection

Music

Music is a massive inspiration for me. What I choose to put on the record player or on Spotify really affects my mood, which in turn will make an impact on whatever I am working on at that moment. Obviously, David Bowie was an incredible artist, and Hunky Dory is one of my favourite albums.

David Bowie's Hunky Dory
David Bowie’s Hunky Dory

David Bowie Fan Art  

This is inspired by #Drawthisinyourstyle the current Instagram trend for artists to draw other artists work “in their style.” I did a few of these in the beginning of the year and thought it would be nice to take it further. I am currently planning to draw ten David Bowie album covers in my style and this one, Hunky Dory, is probably my second favourite album of his. My first being Ziggy Stardust of course!

Original artwork by Alexandra Cook
Original artwork by Alexandra Cook

Rainbow Girl

This piece was something I worked on in-between a couple of commissions when I just needed to draw something for fun. Parts of this is definitely drawn from scanning my room and just doodling ideas from the bits and pieces I collect, and it also stems from Spring’s fashion trend to wear as many hair clips as possible! I used to do this when I was 14/15 because I was obsessed with the Harajuku style of Tokyo, where kids the same age wore excessive rainbow colours and as many accessories as they could get their hands on. I like the idea that even though the trend for hair clips right now is quite minimalistic, it still reminds me of the 20 Hello Kitty style clips I used to cram into my head as a kid, so it was fun to draw a little modern homage to this!

Original artwork by Alexandra Cook
Original artwork by Alexandra Cook

Read More: Jay Daniel Wright’s Process.

 

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