2. Dear Alice, can you tell me a little about your background and how you got into drawing?
Meet Alice B. Simpson: part of our Creative Crew who has quietly emerged as an imaginative artist with clearly defined style. Alice's art has been making us laugh and stop in our tracks in equal measure. Unapologetically hilarious and provocative, Alice is growing her ideas for us to experience. Read this interview to get to know her and her creative practice a little bit better.
Alice B Simpson in her Edinburgh home studio.
I don't remember getting into drawing so much as drawing always being a part of my life and always being something I wanted to keep doing -possibly because it feels good to be good at something. My family background is slightly more repressed and conservative and I think drawing and creativity helped me take steps away from that into a more inclusive and open minded way of thinking.
Original small ink drawings by Alice B Simpson
2. How would you describe your style?
Lines! Following them mostly, throwing things at the wall. I really want to be funny and sometimes I succeed. I love being able to communicate with lines, I like copying things that exist and tweaking them. I use drawing as a way to work things out of my system sometimes. Mostly black and white but not completely if I need a colour to emphasise something.
Tiny shelves in Alice's home.
3. Your drawings are known for being both surreal and humorous. Can you talk about the inspiration behind this unique combination?
I think a lot of my ideas are just collage -taking two or more things and smooshing them together - and that is often funny in itself. I love classic art because it's so serious but all it needs is a little change to make it hilarious. To be honest I wish I had the courage to be naughtier some of the time, because I find a lot of humour in being irreverent.
4. How do you come up with ideas for your work?
Completely randomly. I have to chase an idea onto paper as soon as I can otherwise it can go stale- a lot of things are just rabbit holes that my mind goes down where I'll became fascinated by x or y for a bit and then I try and work out a way of exploring that as a concept.
5. What is your creative process like, from initial sketch to finished drawing?
I hardly ever do initial sketches - I usually just work straight from the source material. I get a bit addicted to working pen-on-paper directly - partially because I like to film my working (I have social media to blame I suppose) and partially because if I do it that way and it goes well it's such a brilliant feeling! If I really don't want to mess up I'll do a pencil layout first so I don't run out of space. Then as before it basically goes "oh this could be good [sits at dining table to work]..."
Alice and her drawing materials
6. Your drawings often feature fantastical creatures and references to art history. What is the character you are most pleased with to date?
I drew a really good version of 'Napoleon Crossing the Alps' with little cat heads everywhere about two years ago and I'm still super proud of it because I persevered and stuck the landing. Also I drew a great horse and for me that's the ultimate goal (pushing 40 but still ultimately 15 years old!).
Bendy Monument sketch by Alice B Simpson.
7. What role do you think humour plays in your work and in the world of art in general?
It's fundamental. I don't know if it comes across but every single thing I draw I do it wondering if there's a way to make it funny. I don't think everything in the art world needs humour but I do think that it's a great way of communicating a point. Most of the artists I admire use humour in one way or another.
Pat's Arse print by Alice B Simpson.
8. How do you hope viewers react to your drawings?
I want them to laugh and/or I want them to say to themselves "she's really good at drawing". Basically feed me validation!
9. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
You will always keep your creativity. You may go through phases of thinking you aren't an artist, you might not practice your art, you might even hate the thought of creating at times but if you truly love it it'll find a way to get back to you and you can always pick it up again.
Alice B Simpson crab island original drawing.
10. Can you tell me how you overcame an obstacle along the way? Perhaps there is something that you hope to achieve?
I think imposter syndrome is just a permanent obstacle, and I find it raises is head particularly when I'm not being kind to myself and prioritising my needs so that's the first thing I tackle. Although obviously that's easier to say than actually put into practice! Just having an excellent support system of friends and followers and allowing myself to be OK with fallow periods is the main one. In terms of achieving I suppose it would be great to get a cartoon in the New Yorker (BIG dream) or sell a big drawing in a show (maybe more achievable).
Croissantelopes by Alice B Simpson.
11. Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or exhibitions you have planned?
To be honest at the moment my main aim is to get stuck into something now spring is finally here. I'd love to get some more work on some more walls and some more eyes on my work. Then we'll see what happens.Alice B Simpson painting Curiouser window at Bruntsfield
Browse a selection of Alice's artwork available at Curiouser here.