VH World: Alison Willoughby
Alison Willoughby is a Melbourne-based creative working with stunning colour palettes and soft organic lines to create artwork that is a balm for any weary eye. We recently caught up with Alison in her Brunswick home for a chat about creativity, slow fashion and inspiration.
Tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, etc.
My name is Alison and I am an artist & designer who loves all things colour. Me and my partner Denny have recently moved to our first house (no more apartment living!) in Brunswick, Melbourne and have had fun decorating with all our objects and artwork through last year’s lockdown. I work part time as an in-house graphic designer for a furniture & homewares brand, and spend the rest of my week painting and creating in my home studio. I create bold and abstract pieces, always starting with an inspiring colour palette first.
When did you realise creativity was something you wanted to pursue?
I knew I was only interested in the design classes at school, and as little as I knew about the design/art world at the time, I ended up studying Graphic Design as I knew this could lead to an actual job at the end. I never thought I would become an artist, but it kind of naturally evolved through my years of studying and creating my own projects and artwork.
How do you balance your freelance work around your part time design job?
I find it quite easy to balance both of these things as they are quite seperate - I have designated days for my part time job and then freelance/studio days. I am a pretty organised person and love to be productive - I love a big list the night before a day in the studio.
Where do you go looking when you need inspiration?
I find inspiration from a mix of scrolling on Pinterest or doing something completely removed like going for a walk. I sometimes record colour palettes I see that catch my eye when I’m out and about, and take a photo on my phone and save it for later to pull colours from. I also love going to galleries and exhibitions. It motivates me to see what other artists are doing, and gives me more drive to keep creating art myself.
You mentioned while we were chatting that your mum makes clothes for you, is that something she’s done a lot for you?
My mum has lots of creative hobbies and interests, and lucky for me and my sister, sewing is one of them. She loves a project and we have worked together a lot on pieces for my wardrobe! It’s fun for me to be able to almost design a garment, wanting the skirt of one dress with the sleeves of another in a particular colour I’m liking, and made to fit as well. I am pretty specific with what I like so it’s really cool that we can make things like this, especially when it can be tricky to find cool things in my size. I always pull for those pieces in my wardrobe as they’re basically my staples.
Shout out to Kirsten!
What has your experience been of size inclusivity in fashion - in general, but also specifically in the slow fashion movement?
I’ve definitely found it tricky at times! I have found myself in the familiar scenario of trying to snag the dress I like in the one and only run of the larger size - it can be a battle to get that one size XL. It can be frustrating when you’re like - I am here, read to buy your clothes - and then they just don’t cater to everyone’s bodies. I am also conscious of trying to buy and shop sustainably, but it can be difficult when some of the fast fashion brands are the only ones to be catering to more sizes. I really try to not buy clothing too often, only when it’s something I love or something special!
Do you think it’s getting better these days?
I definitely do think it is getting better and easier. I love that Variety Hour is working within this space to cater to more sizes with the actual clothing and also within branding imagery - it’s refreshing to be able to see how clothing fits on different types of bodies, and its important to see real representations of different people within media.
Anything exciting coming up on the horizons?
It hasn’t been officially announced just yet, but I’ve been working away behind the scenes on a new body of work for my debut solo exhibition which will be opening in just a few weeks time! I am so excited to see it all come together and can’t wait for the opening night! You’re all invited!
If you were to describe Variety Hour to a friend, what would you say?
I would say VH is all about fun and colourful prints, celebrating diversity and slow fashion here in Melbourne.
Alison’s solo exhibition ‘Bubble Pop Electric’ opens Friday April 30th, 6-9pm at Off The Kerb Gallery in Collingwood, Melbourne.