Alene Art: The Portfolio Website of Perth-based Illustrator Alison Mutton - Illustration for the children's market, book design, help with self-publishing, needle felting and portraiture
What do you want to know about?
Q: What do you use to draw?
A: I use a lot of different media. Digitally, I use Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC and Manga Studio 5. I use an Wacom Mobile Studio Pro to draw directly into the computer. It's just like drawing traditionally, with the added bonus of having an undo button, and not having to wait for things to dry. Sometimes I use scanned or photographed textures as well.
For traditional work I use watercolour and coloured pencil, graphite pencils, technical pens, watercolour, and ink with either a brush or a dip pen. I frequently use mixed media, and use many of those at once. I have also been known to use acrylic paints.
Q: Will you draw something for me?
A: Only if you pay me. Sorry. This is my job, and it's the way I make my living. If I spent my time giving out free art, I'd starve to death. If you are prepared to pay, then the answer is yes. I also do not work on spec, or for 'exposure'. Please contact me for a quote.
Q: Will you draw a portrait for me?
A: Yes, I accept private portraiture commissions. Please contact me for further information: Prices for graphite portraits start at around AU$200, depending on the type of portrait and how many people are in it. Pet portraits start at AU$80 and I offer budget watercolour portraits at AU$75.
Q: Will you do me a portrait of a famous movie star?
A: No, sorry, not unless you own the copyright to the original photo. The movie star portraits I do are purely for my own amusement (and also to prove that I can capture a likeness), and no copyright infringement is intended. I cannot, however, sell them.
Q: Will you do an illustration for me?
A: Yes, I will. Please contact me for an obligation-free quote. I can't immediately say what it would cost, as illustrations vary in complexity. Take a look through my galleries first, though, to get an idea of what I do. It's no good for you to ask me to paint a zombie apocalypse in oils, for example – that's just not what I do. Let me know which of my illustrations you like, so I know what type to quote for.
Q: Is there anything you won't draw?
A: I'll try most things, but I'm happiest if I can avoid things over a PG rating, or realistic representations of insects. (They give me the creeps. I've done it, but it's not my favourite thing!)
Q: Why don't you paint in oils?
A: I'm allergic to them. If I get them on my hands I come out in a rash, and the smell gives me a migraine. I do not wish to suffer more than necessary for my art.
Q: Can I use one of your pictures on my website / in a publication / somewhere else?
A: It's best if you contact me if you want to use my art somewhere. The worst that can happen is that I'll say no.
Q: Do you have some sort of magic pencil?
A: No, alas. I daresay a magic pencil would make life easier, but my art is created by the much more mundane method of hard work, practice and perseverance.
Q: How long did it take you to draw that?
A: Pictures take varying amounts of time. As a general rule of thumb, a portrait usually takes me between 15 and 30 hours. A full watercolour illustration can take upwards of 50 hours, although most of them are much quicker than that. It depends on what goes into them. On average, I spend between 3 and 15 hours on an illustration.
Q: What is needle felting?
A: Needle felting is a dry felting technique where, instead of rubbing wet wool fibres together and causing them to interlock and form felt (this is wet-felting) you use a barbed needle to tangle dry fibres together by stabbing repeatedly through them. The more you stab, the more the fibres become entangled and the firmer the felt. By paying attention to what you're doing, it is possible to create very detailed sculptures. It is also possible to stab your thumb, so you have to watch out!
Q: How long does a needle felted sculpture take?
A: It depends on how complex they are. I like to felt quite firmly, so I spend a lot of time compacting the wool. A really simple sculpture might take two hours, and it just goes upwards from there.
Q: What tools do you use for needle felting?
A: I use dacron (the stuffing you find in cheap pillows, or use for teddybears) inside my sculptures, and then use wool roving (wool that has been washed, dyed and carded so that it looks like fairyfloss) on the outside. I prefer merino, as it is very fine and nice to work with. I use a variety of needles; my favourite ones are a coarse #32 and a star #36 (good for quickly getting the basic shape down and compacting the fibres) and a spiral #40 and a fine #42 (for fine details).
I also use beads for eyes and decoration and sometimes add some details with acrylic paint.
Q: Do you take needle felting commissions?
A: Yes, I do. If you would like me to create a custom sculpture for you, please contact me to discuss.
Q: Why "Alene Illustration"?
A: Alene is a name I used in a story I was writing with a highschool friend many years ago. I liked the sound, and kept it when I started creating online profiles as a teen. There are a number of other Alison Muttons in creative fields throughout the world, and so a different name would, I thought, be handy to differentiate me from the others. When I came to start up my business, Alene was already my handle all over the internet, so I kept it. And, well, I illustrate.
Q: Why the mouse?
A: I like mice. I used to have pet mice. Mice are fun to draw. The first incarnation of my logo was designed at a sports carnival in about 2001 (yes, I loved my sport. Can you tell?) and I'm not about to let it go.
Q: Who designed your website?
A: I did.
Q: Will you design a website for me?
A: Probably not. My degree is in print design and web design is a bit beyond me. I'm more capable now that I'm using Adobe Muse to create websites, rather than hand-coding, but if you want a website designed, you're probably better off asking someone who really knows what they're doing.
Q: How old are you?
A: I'm 31.
Q: When did you start drawing?
A: So long ago that I can't even remember. Definitely before 18 months of age.
Q: What else do you do?
A: Not much, really. I enjoy reading, watching old stuff on tv (musicals, golden age Hollywood, cult British tv) and playing the piano, as well as needle felting. I'm happiest when I am being creative. I try and combine as many of my hobbies as I can – I can sketch and felt while watching tv, and listen to audiobooks while I'm working. I haven't figured out how to multitask while playing the piano though...
Q: What degrees do you have?
A: I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Design) (Hons), majoring in Illustration, from Curtin University.
All images copyright Alison Mutton 2017