Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Hughes.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
When I was little, I loved to draw and paint, and I dreamed of traveling to faraway places. I liked to collect objects from around the world, especially painted animals and folk art from different countries.
I studied graphic design at TCU, and fell in love with it. I did my best to attend design shows and conferences whenever I could, and I was lucky to have my work recognized in both regional and national design competitions. It was also in college that I began to realize my dream of being a frequent traveler. In four years, I visited Guatemala, Mexico, Italy, and Japan. These trips would later inspire some of my first prints!
After graduation, I moved to Dallas for a graphic design job. Not long after that, Wandering Paper Co. was born after my friend Kandace Green (owner of Good Cheer Paper Co.) introduced me to block printing. I made my very first prints (inspired by my recent trip to Japan) while tripping over lawn furniture on the patio of my tiny downtown Dallas apartment.
I began making more and more prints, all inspired by my travels, and launched Wandering Paper Co. in November 2015. It feels like so long ago now! Since then, I’ve also begun making greeting cards and Texas-inspired prints, as well as experimenting with new techniques and media.
Please tell us about your art.
I make globally inspired block prints and greetings cards. I started out making prints of places I’d traveled to, because it is a way for me to learn about different cultures and share my experiences through art. I’ve since branched out into block-printed greeting cards, florals, and animals, but they are all related to global themes and folk art in some way. Whenever I travel to a new place, I try to pay attention to the local art, architecture, and visual motifs that make that place unique. I do lots of sketching when I travel—I have a tiny sketchbook that I carry with me—and when I get home I always make a print or two inspired by that place. My husband and I just got back from Iceland, and I have a mountain of sketches and photos to sort through!
I love connecting with other people over art and travel, and it is especially gratifying to hear that a piece of mine reminds someone of a special memory or person in their lives—a print can represent a honeymoon trip to Venice, a husband who is from Copenhagen, a memory of home for a college-bound son or daughter. I think places hold powerful memories for us, and I make prints because it helps me hold onto some of those experiences. I love when a piece of mine connects with someone else in a similarly powerful way.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
That’s a tough question! In some ways, I think it’s become easier—I think that in Dallas there’s a large community of people who care about supporting local art and artists, and in general there seems to be an appetite for buying unique, handmade, or original artwork instead of something mass-produced. So, it always helps if there’s a market for what you’re selling.
That said, there will always be challenges, and there’s always something new to learn. I think that social media can create pressure on artists to have everything figured out, or be immediately successful, and that expectation can discourage people from sticking with it.
I think a great way for the city to encourage artists is simply to invest in art. Instead of buying a piece of mass-produced art from a big-box store, buy from a local artist or commission something. You’ll come away with a unique piece you will treasure for years. I try to buy gifts and greeting cards from local artists whenever I can. Many artists also provide reproductions and note cards of their work at a more affordable price point, so there’s something out there for everyone.
Finally, attending art shows and craft fairs is another fun way to support Dallas-area artists. Get a couple of friends and make a day of it! There are so many talented people working right here in Dallas—there are opportunities everywhere!
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Right now, my Etsy shop is the best place to buy my artwork. You can join my (infrequent) mailing list to be notified of sales and special events. I also blog over on my website about my travels, printmaking techniques, and craft show advice. Instagram is the best place to stay connected with me and my day-to-day life and projects.
- Website: www.wanderingpaperco.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @wanderingpaperco
- Facebook: facebook.com/wanderingpaperco
- Other: Newsletter Signup: http://eepurl.com/db8SST