Kaylene Alder is a Brixton-based illustrator. Here she tells us how she came to create the banner for the Makerhood West Norwood website, and how you could share an aspect of Brixton with other local people and win one of her prints at the same time.
1. What kind of creative work do you do?
I’m a freelance illustrator. I work on magazines, books and also personal work such as cards, screen prints, and special occasion work such as wedding stationery.
2. What inspired you to get into this?
Initially I did a degree in fine art, but at that time I found the fine art world in Montreal, where I studied, very exclusive and almost deliberately convoluted and obscure. I found I took much more easily to illustration, as a medium which communicates strongly and allows room for a sense of humour.
I have been working as a teacher, but I realised how important making and creating are to me and wanted to get it more prominent in my life, so I began to take up freelance work. I now teach part-time so that I can pursue this.
3. What brought you to Brixton, and what kept you here?
Desire to travel! I came here first in 2001 and then travelled for nine months in south-east Asia, and worked in South Korea for a time, but teacher training brought me back here.
4. Are you still teaching?
Yes, I work part-time as a primary teacher, both as a general class teacher and as an art teacher. I am hoping to be involved in an interesting project soon, integrating arts subjects such as art, music and drama, with other learning such as maths and science. Most kids have a lot of energy and find it hard to sit still, so having something physical to do will help to keep their brains engaged!
5. I hear you designed the banner for the Makerhood West Norwood website – tell us more about how you got involved with Makerhood?
I saw the website by chance, and did one of the Christmas stalls outside Studio 73 – from there it just snowballed. I volunteered at the ‘Making Uncovered’ event, which was a great day, very positive.
It was thanks to contacts I made through these events and sharing a Makerhood stall at the Urban Art fair that I came to do the banner. After Mark, my partner, gave me an old map of Brixton as a gift, I was inspired to use maps in my illustrative work – I really like working over them, they provide such rich backgrounds. As a result I’d done some work for the ‘new cartography’ project at The New Wolf, looking at four areas of London which included some work in the West Norwood area that provided a basis for the banner.
6. So Makerhood has helped you?
Absolutely! Making Uncovered (I got a commission there, too!), the stalls at Studio 73, Urban Art etc, making friends and contacts, the Etsy mentorship project, and the Diverse ‘Makers in the Hood’ opportunity, it’s all been really helpful.
7. Now we know what brought you to Brixton, what keeps you here?
London’s so big and still so small, everywhere has a community, you just have to seek it out, but Brixton feels like a proper community. I like its hustle, the fact that it is close to central London but has so much available locally – the park, the Ritzy, Brixton Village, the windmill – I love that it has a windmill, it is just so weird and amazing!
8. What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Brixton?
Prima Donna (a Brazilian restaurant in Market Row) is one of our favourite places, they have an amazing sticky date pudding!
Also, community initiatives such as the Brixton Blog and the free Brixton Bugle paper. I am in awe of the people who run admirable projects such as these and Makerhood – they have boundless energy and enthusiasm for generating a community spirit in Brixton – so I help to distribute The Brixton Bugle on Friday mornings and do a monthly illustration for it. To involve local people in this, I invite them to tweet in their ideas for the subject of the next illustration. If their idea is selected, I send them one of the resulting prints!
If you’d like to see Kaylene’s work, take a look at her website. Many of her illustrations show aspects of Brixton, some of which are available from local shops such as Diverse Gifts, and if you’d like to inspire her with a subject for the next Brixton Bugle illustration and maybe win your own print, pick up a copy on a Friday morning and tweet your suggestions!