Rilla

Alexander

My name is Rilla Alexander.

I make bold and graphic illustrations that make complex ideas simple and friendly. My work is all about bright colours, simple shapes and characters you can connect with.

In the past I’ve lived in Brisbane, London, Berlin, Portland and now Los Angeles—but I will always call Australia home.

One of the most formative experiences of my career was getting a hand-drawn ‘get well’ card from my Dad’s graphic designer friend when I was eight. It featured a sick koala with the message 'How much can a koala bear?'. He’d drawn it at work. I thought that sounded like the job for me.

I originally studied graphic design, but illustration was one of the courses. Now I would say I design illustratively and illustrate designerly.

My studio is currently in Los Angeles because, after years of living in cold and rainy places, I moved to LA because it’s so much like home: sunny Brisbane. My studio is always where you’ll find me and my dog, Mr Tom.

I spend a lot of time walking to the park with my dog, because he likes the sun as much as I do. It’s also where I come up with ideas and solve problems.

The best thing about working on commercial projects is pushing beyond the boundaries you set for yourself.

Here’s a recent map I created for the second volume of Hoyne Design’s The Place Economy book. I loved researching existing and new developments in Brisbane and reducing them to simple forms.

Not long ago I made some board books that are feature die cuts in heavy board. Each page fits together like a puzzle. It gives me great satisfaction to make things work.

One of my all-time favourite projects was created for a hotel in Copenhagen. I painted the walls with sleeping animals and replaced the bed with a tent.

I really loved designing the kookaburra mascot for the Brisbane Airport. I’ll always remember dancing around in the costume.

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for a kid’s science lab in Germany and is all about exploring the world.

Lately in my personal work I’ve been playing with painting geometric shapes and forms on wooden blocks. I am an obsessive planner but I do these intuitively and enjoy seeing the patterns they create where the cubes connect. Recently I’ve been playing around with paper cut-outs to see just how simple I can make my designs.

While I’m not doing client work, you can probably find me leading workshops and classes encouraging kids and adults to play creatively and to value their ideas.

Most of my work starts with pages of pencil sketches drawn from life or photographic reference. I sketch quickly, gradually simplifying and abstracting. I often use different tools such a soft fat pencil or a thick marker to help simplify the shapes. I scan my favourite sketches then get to work digitally using my Wacom Cintiq. I work in Illustrator for vector work to create neat, tight, scalable artwork, or in Photoshop to create looser, lively, layered files.

I will sometimes integrate hand made elements back into the artwork as well—such as pencil or ink linework or rubber stamps. It’s all about finding the right mix for each project. When I was a kid I would give my drawings job numbers and make phone calls to my pretend clients telling them they could come and pick up the drawing. Then I would write an invoice!

That’s me! If you want more, check out my full folio and Instagram. Got a brief? Contact me and the good folks at Jacky Winter.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.