Alice Tait is a British artist and illustrator – her hand-drawn illustrations have splashed the pages of The Guardian, the covers of Sue Townsend’s life-affirming maritime series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and on tote bags around the world. Alice’s ability to translate real life experiences effortlessly to paper has earned her enormous praise. Wonderland talked to her as she was finishing a commission for May issue of British Vogue.
What was your creative thought and processes for your London Map series? Which single-handedly made you a household name in the UK.
[laughs] Well I am not yet a household name, but maybe one day! At the time of creating the London map I lived and worked close to Portbello Road market, and so my plan was to design something original to sell tourists and visitors. The map was spotted by a wall art company, who in turn supplied to Habitat, and from then on my map took on a life of its own.
Can you recall the moment when Vogue contacted you about illustrating a world map of beauty products, for the December issue?
I always love it when I see a juicy looking email in my inbox! I can’t remember the moment exactly but I am always pleased to work for Vogue, in fact I have just finished a new set of illustrations for them which will be in the May issue.
Ooh… Sounds interesting, please can you elaborate? What can we expect from the May issue of Vogue magazine?
I was recently asked to do a few illustrations for the May issue of Vogue, for a regular feature they have. I kept the colours very spring/summer, using pastels and ‘sweetie’ hues, and the overall feel quite light. I was able to draw most of my illustrations from life, and I setup little scenes in my studio to take inspiration from.
Your latest project “365 Days Of Drawing” consists of you committing yourself to do a drawing a day for a year. How far are you into this project and do you slightly regret starting the mamouth challenge for yourself?
Far from it, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The difference between an illustrator and an artist is that an illustrator creates work for someone else, and an artist does it for their own gratification. I do appreciate my job and I love drawing for a living, but I can’t tell you the amount of times good work has been curbed or even ruined by the whim of an editor or a marketing team. For years I put off doing my own personal work as I was daunted by the idea. I am about half way through the project now.
You have already achieved enormous applause for your contribution to illustration and recently won The Guardian competition for your drawings in H.E. Bate “Darling Buds Of May.” What does the future hold for Alice Tait?
I love travel and have not done nearly enough of it, so I have come up with a plan to go abroad lots, drawing all the while, and gently steer my career in the direction of travel illustration. I have started my own range of products, based on Paris and London. The Paris range will be on sale in the Eiffel tower this year and the London one coming to the UK soon! Meanwhile, my online print shop is coming along well and so I am going to be working on some screen prints and etchings to add to the range.
If you was stranded on a deserted island miles away from civilisation what three items would you take with you? And why?
A deserted island sounds like bliss to me! I’d take my husband and my little sausage dog called Roger, and my bible. And if I needed to draw, I could do it in the sand.
Words: James Outhwaite