As a child, art was always Alice Lindstrom’s favourite school subject. Her parents even let her draw on the walls of the run-down cottage where the family lived; something Alice says she would never let her own children do. But art wasn’t necessarily her first career choice: it took a number of years focusing on other things – an arts/law degree, theatre design at NIDA, art history studies – before she realised she wanted to pursue a creative career. Here, she talks about her artistic journey, her creative process, and advice for living a creative life.

The Call of Collage

Peek into the creative life of Adelaide-based collage artist Alice Lindstrom. 

I always loved making art as a child and, going back through my childhood work, I found little books I made using collage. Many years later, at NIDA, I also started using collage in costume design – cutting up bits of fabric, or using magazines to show the texture of the costumes I was designing. It’s a medium I gravitate towards and it’s something that just comes naturally to me.

A Day in the Life

A typical day starts with getting into the studio and checking emails. Then it depends on what I’m working on. If I have no immediate deadlines, I’ll do a personal piece of work, then orient myself for the day and set out what I want to achieve. If I’m starting a new project, I might look at reference imagery online and then, if I need to make any sketches, I’ll use ProCreate on the iPad. If the work is for a client, I’ll sketch it out in detail. I like to separate my computer work from hand-made work, so I try to get any computer work done first. Depending on where I’m at with the brief, I might need to paint, which can get really messy. I might occasionally go back to the computer to check emails or correspond with clients, but generally once I embark on a project I like to spend solid hours getting into the flow of the work. 

The Creative Process

Collage artist Alice Lindstrom shares her creative process and the places she finds creative inspiration.

If it’s personal work, sometimes the idea will come from a photo I’ve taken. I keep a little sketch book and I might see an image and decide that I’d really like to make a collage out of it. Or I might see something or someone that will spark my interest – inspiration can come from a lot of places. For a client brief, I’ll assemble imagery using Pinterest, putting together reference photos, colour palettes and other art imagery. Then I'll do a sketch based on that. It really depends on whether it’s a client brief, which is quite a methodical process, or it’s my own idea, which can be really free.

SEE ALSO: How I Create: Beci Orpin

The Creative Kit

The really important tools of the trade are paint brushes, paints, watercolour paper, cartridge paper, pencils, erasers, tweezers for model making, rulers, pencil sharpeners, tracing paper, PVA glue, a glue stick, fine art brushes, colour pencils, textas, sponges, inks, a scalpel, scissors, pliers, and a model-making tool. It wouldn’t be possible to create the kind of work I do without the materials and tools that I use.

Mess Is Liberating

I’ve had a variety of different studios over the years. I’ve had studios away from home – it’s actually really lovely to have a place separate from the house where you go to work. In the last house I lived in, I had a studio in the back of the garden, which was also a really nice option, because you have the ease of working from home but still feel like you have a separate space. And now, I work from a room in our house. With a small baby [Frances, 15 months], I work at night and all different kinds of hours, so it’s handy having the studio so close. 

My ideal space would be a really big studio where I could get really messy. I’d throw paint around and go completely feral. While I don’t like to live like this in my general life, in terms of creative work, a certain amount of mess is liberating. Currently though, I’m working in a small room, so I have to keep it ordered, otherwise it’s too hard to work. 

Overcoming Challenges

I’m always cognisant that I’m really, really lucky to be pursuing this career, even though parts of it might be challenging, like the lack of a regular salary and the practical aspects of being freelance: it’s quite stressful when you tie your passion and creative outlet to finances. But when I’m immersed in the work, I do love it. 

SEE ALSO: Celebrating the Creative Process with Billie Justice Thomson

Creativity Takes Grit, Determination and Perseverance 

Alice Lindstrom’s advice for a creative life is to make work you enjoy and that speaks to you.

Creativity means work. If you really want to get your work out there, you need to put in the hours. Everyone can be creative. The myth that creativity is just this inspired thing is really false. It actually requires a lot of grit, determination and perseverance. 

Advice for a Creative Life

Make work that you enjoy and that speaks to you. Try to find a process that genuinely makes you happy. I remember reading that in each piece of work you make, the thread of the next work is already contained within it. It’s like following a little stone path and laying each brick, one by one. You look at the piece of work you’ve made and think “Okay, well even if it’s not perfect, what is in there that I love that speaks to me for the next piece?” If you follow that thread over and over again, you’ll eventually create a style and a body of work. And you’ll also have immense love for the process of doing it.