MiAL Loves Harriet Alana!!!
Interview and photos by Kate Rintoul
Have you always known you wanted to be an illustrator? Did you spend your childhood drawing? I’ve always known I want to draw stuff. Growing up, I spent most of my time drawing, right from a child at primary school drawing giraffes for my mum until GCSEs. At weekends, kids would go do what normal 15 year olds do, and I was there in my room, working on my projects during weekends, only surfacing for food. I’ve always loved drawing, but spent most of my childhood wanting to be a vet, The turn around was when I got my GCSE results back and knew for definite that I was a creative soul, not a science nerd.
What brought you to Camberwell? What will you remember from your time there? The compulsion to be in the country’s capital brought me to Camberwell! London is the best place in the UK to be, both as an artist and a skateboarder.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but the Illustration course here is so open in regards to what ‘illustration’ is… my peers have made things from tables and chairs to educational bouncy castles! It has led me to be more open and free-thinking when it comes to illustration as a discipline, and not everyone who studies illustration at Camberwell has to or wants to become an illustrator at the end of it.
Unfortunately, this ethos was the bane of my Camberwell experience… I let it cloud my simple drawing-led soul - what I wanted to do - and of course it led me to feel pressured about my work. I thought I was doing it wrong… that my work had to be ‘innovative’ and ‘experimental’ when what I really wanted to do was make the best drawings I could and then go and screen print them… or photocopy them into a zine.
Fortunately, having the super awesome Luke Best and Geoff Coupland as tutors, to keep me from morphing into a ‘tortured artist’ or whatever, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me at Camberwell. They were my mentors. As practising illustrators, they knew exactly what they were talking about… eagerly egging me on to continue making my skateboard zines, with stupid comics and screen printed animal covers. I must have asked Luke to come for a skate on three separate occasions (he used to skate!). He politely declined every time.
Where were you at in 2012? How will you look back on this year? The beginning of 2012 was a dark place that I plan never to return to. It was deeply stressful, and I almost couldn’t handle it. Since graduating, I now know that my woes were completely unnecessary, but you don’t realise that at the time. All you care about in third year is third year, and there is nothing outside that box. But of course there is!
My recent obsession with Vlad the Impaler, Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula, led me out on a lone quest to Romania in search of forests, mountains and castles. Such a ethereal and mysterious country, full of folklore and story-telling. I came back with so much more than a Transylvanian tattoo! Taking yourself out of your normal, every day situation into a completely new and alien place is something everyone should do. If you’re away from everything that is familiar to you, you think of everything differently. You realise what is important and what is not. You understand yourself and begin to get a better idea of what you want. And then you come back, and have to do it all over when life gets shitty again!
What are your plans now you have graduated? Time goes by so fast, particularly with London’s pace of life, that you often don’t get chance to think ‘hey, what exactly are my plans?’ Right now, I’m busy working my skate shoes off at a youth activity centre in Mile End delivering skate coaching and as well as beginning a 6 month youth work course. It’s all good fun and the kids are rad, but it’s so tiring! I’m also finding it a huge challenge to fit my illustration work in.
I don’t have a good routine at the moment, but I’m doing my best fitting my drawing in, as well as shameless self-promotion and mailing out my work within the design industry.
Since an integral theme to my work is the DIY ethos, the lo-fi aesthetic and zine-making, I feel a niche my work will fit right in with (outside the skateboarding industry) is independent record labels. I feel that keeping the analogue record industry alive and kicking is of utmost importance. Currently there is a revival, with some super amazing cover art, which keeps the old juxtaposed with the new (and exciting musical talent). Despite being in 2013, I still believe, that actually buying music as a product to hold and physically play beats anything else digital. This needs to be cherished, celebrated and continued. I really want to be a part of this, and by actually mailing out my work to companies, groups and individuals within this industry surely stands me in good stead for getting work.
Another thing that stands me in good stead is the first board graphic I designed. It was for a small and relatively unknown (but rad) skate company that gave me experience and insight on all the design work that goes into making a product like that. I am so stoked on the finished board and it has given me the confidence to approach companies offering my services.
Recently, I was part of a fundraising show called ‘The Art of Rolling’ raising money for an organisation called Skate Jam, which does stuff like ramp building and encourages creative activities with children in the war torn countries like Israel and the Gaza Strip. That was super sick because not only did I have work in the show, I helped hang it and met some rad people, that I will be, no doubt working with in the future.
I also want to skate more, film stuff and travel. I have plans to go out to Romania again, for a few months near the end of the year, to do volunteer work delivering Arts and Crafts workshops with hard to reach communities out in the sticks.
Harriet's Print Skanimal is available to buy on our Culture Label shop for £53, buy it here...
Harriet's skateboarding life
Harriet loves to skate almost as much as she loves to draw. We think this kind of commitment should be celebrated so we tried to find out a little more about Harriet's life on her board...
Skateboarding is a massive part of your life, how did you get into it? Can you remember your first skating experience? Too true! And I’ve only been doing it just over 3 years! I got into skating towards the end of the summer before heading to London to study. I used to work at Studio4 Gallery and Framers in Birmingham for a dude called Log Roper, now a very good friend of mine. He’s super cool, a talented artist and real fun to skate with. Him and another ‘illuskater’ buddy encouraged me to have a go on the Ideal half pipe, and that’s when I thought, why not? This is pretty fun. And since coming to London in 2009, getting acquainted with Stockwell, I haven’t stopped since!
You’ve also drawn musicians including Nas and Tony Iommi. Who features on your perfect skating playlist? I never skate with headphones in as I find it anti-social. Saying that, I’m slowly turning into an anti-social grump and want nothing more to be in my own music-y, skate-y world.
At the time of drawing Nas, I was listening to hip hop, and I still go back to it… I go through phases with music. I was listening to a lot of ‘old school’ hip hop; Wu Tang, NWA, Nas, Raekwon, RZA, De La Soul… that sorta thang. When I skate Mile End, Parlour skate shop usually have the raddest tunes blaring out the speakers. More often than not, the Canadian WeFunk radio station. The beats make you pop that plank!
If I’m at Stockwell, it is more of a metal vibe, which is where Mr. Iommi comes in. In the summer time, one of the older guys often brings his big amplifier down and booms Sabbath, Electric Wizard or Japanese psychedelic metallers; The Flower Travellin’ Band from… great for tearing up the bowls!
A lot of your work is about your friends and the people you meet skating, do you think that the sub-culture mentality still exists in that you all sort of look out for each other? That’s true, a lot of my work has been centered around that, but I guess it’s changing as I’m discovering new things like medieval tyrants and drawing mountains from old ski-ing photographs. But I still involve my skater buddies in the work that I do… Stockwell locals are often the first people to see a new zine when it’s done… before I’ve even indicated about it on the net! We all do look out for each other – some of my closest friends are guys I’ve met in the last few years through skateboarding, and most skaters offer a genuine and philosophical perspective on the world, which can be so inspiring when you’re down.
Your final project at Camberwell was to create Brash, a zine about skating in London, can you tell us a little more about it, are there plans for more? For the forth issue, I wanted to create something a bit more special than the previous issues, relying on my skills as an artist and print maker but still keeping the lo-fi feel. Issue 4 is quite lengthy and is packed with features, art and photos about the scene around me. I’ve worked with some amazing people on Brash, each issue seems to get bigger and better. I would love to collaborate with other creative lurkers and extend Brash into film-making, nothing to extreme, just skate movies – and maybe a bit of animation. I wanna make those stickers and tees that I keep thinking about but never actually end up doing! There are plans for more Brash zines, but I’ve only just began to think about issue 5… it’ll be some time, but watch this space!
We hate to do this to you but we have to ask, if you had to choose between drawing and skating what would it be? It really depends. Skill wise, it has to be drawing, I’ve been drawing since I can remember and it is the only thing I’m really good at. I’d always choose drawing as I can always rely on it as something I can always definitely do. However, when it’s a lovely sunny day and I’m feeling happy and excited, ask me again!
Can you tell us a little bit about your skating life London? Where do you go? What do you love about certain places? Well I’m at Mile End a lot of the time as that’s where I do my skate coaching. We have an indoor part with two mini ramps so even when it’s raining you can get your shred on! I skate the mini a lot and I’m slowly improving. It’s great to see so many kids skating and now more and more girls are getting into it, definitely a good thing for everyone! In my free time, you’ll often find me down at Stockwell skate park the best park in London. I’ve made so many friends there, the locals are amazing and the vibe is so chilled out. Recently, Clapham skate park is also another favourite of mine. I need to get on the street ting though!
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