“I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.” – Stanley Kunitz
Sometimes I encounter an artist or, more specifically, art that possesses an almost magical quality which allows me to see what seems like a completely different world, a completely other world and, in taking me there, in transporting me into some new fantastical realm actually allows me to see the magic of this world, the remarkable beauty found in quiet moments that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Alexandra Kern (aka Zandra Art) is one of those artists. Her illustrations are like fairy dust, or dreams, so transparent you can look through them and see the world.
I’m not on Twitter nearly enough to garner thousands and thousands of followers (yet), but the time I do spend on Twitter has afforded me some wonderful discoveries like the graphic designer who created the logo for West of the Moon Retreat, and sundry remarkable artists from around the world.
Artists like Alexandra of whom I might not have otherwise ever become aware.
What a shame that would have been!
That magical quality to which I alluded is a combination, I suppose, of Alexandra’s deft use of color and the incredible way she uses (or should I say, creates) light which work in concert to transform a scene, a seemingly simple moment in time, into something truly special.
I had the good fortune of interviewing Alexandra to find out more about her and her art. I hope you enjoy her responses and, especially, I hope you allow yourself to be transported in such a way that you, too, see the world in a different way. That you notice . . . that you become cognizant of . . . that you find a bit of magic in those oft overlooked moments that fill our days.
Other Cool Birds: Young Adult author, Jacqueline Woodson says that writers tend to focus on the time in their lives they’re still working through. Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim as it relates to Visual Artists (or to your work)?
Alexandra Kern: Absolutely!! I think, especially when we are younger, no matter what profession you’re in you’ll always be itching to carve out your own place in the world and see how you fit in the puzzle pieces around you. Art is no different in many ways!
Creative pursuits are a reflection of the person creating . . . and that is always difficult to separate, which is what makes it so wonderful and interesting!!
OCB: What are you illustrating or creating art for (as in, what is the deep-down driving force behind your choice to illustrate in the first place)?
Alexandra: Creating art is as natural to me as breathing air and drinking water.
And I find moments where I’m unable to create in some way immensely restricting. I love drawing, I love telling stories, I love creating worlds and characters and places you can get lost in. I’ve just been very lucky that something I do naturally also pays the bills as well.
OCB: What technique/media did you use to create your wonderful illustrations (like “Summoning the Sky,” “I’ll Lead,” and “In the Shadows”)? I could have identified so many pieces for this question, as I love all your work.
Alexandra: All of my art is completely digital!! I use Photoshop CS5.5 and a Cintiq to create all my illustrations.
OCB: Each of your illustrations conveys a story. Did you have a favorite book, illustration, or illustrator when you were young (or now)?
Alexandra: I was lucky to have been surrounded by many wonderful picture books when I was young, but unfortunately I can’t recall names. And narrowing down my favorite illustrator!? Gosh, I don’t think it’s possible!
There are so many immensely talented artists that I admire today that the list would be a mile long.
I suppose to name a few: Jasmin Lai, Lois van Baarle, Louie Zong, Amei Zhao, Pascal Campion, Loika, Olivia When, maruti_bitamin, Kat Tsai, Zoe Perisco, Elan & Olivia Ceballos and so so so many others.
You should follow them all on social media, too! Every one of these artists have a unique, enchanting artistic vision and style that is so good at sparking the imagination.
OCB: There’s a magical or dreamlike quality to so many of your illustrations. Is that intended and, if so, why?
Alexandra: It’s absolutely intended!!
I enjoy warping perspective and color to give my illustrations a more dreamlike impression as it makes it easier to let the imagination fill in the gaps.
I love giving a sort of soft template to a place or story with just enough detail to let the mind speculate and imagine the rest. And I often find the stories others see in my art immensely more enriching and spectacular in many ways to what I could have thought of on my own!
OCB: How long have you been interested in creating art and what sort of background or training do you have?
Alexandra: Ever since I was young I’ve always drawn and sketched. I was lucky to have art classes when I was young in addition to graduating from an art college.
OCB: If you could work on any project (a personal one, time traveling to work with another artist, etc.), what might it be and why?
Alexandra: I would have loved to have been able to see the creative process behind the late Satoshi Kon’s work. His creative vision is utterly one of a kind and I wish the world (and me!) could have seen more of it!
OCB: Any exciting projects coming up for which we should keep on the lookout?
Alexandra: Not anything I can talk about at the moment! 😉
OCB: In other words, keep watch, y’all!
OCB: I see some of your other interests include martial arts, horseback riding, and music.
Do you find those other outlets and activities help with your art (i.e. coming up with ideas, using music to get into a flow, etc) or that they in some way enhance your creative endeavors? I ask because I co-facilitate a retreat for creatives each summer, and we use yoga and movement as a way into the creative process (so movement, like a sequence of martial arts poses or even riding a horse, walking meditation, or playing music is a great way to get out of one’s head).
Alexandra: Absolutely! It’s a bit of a cliche at this point, but great art also comes from great experiences and it’s vital to balance art as a job as well as hobbies that arent artistic or as creatively taxing on the mind to keep everything balanced.
Not all creativity can be honed with just a pencil! Nurturing the creative spirit includes taking care of your physical and mental health as well, and I think your retreat sounds like a wonderful way to harness that!
Learn more about Alexandra Kern’s (Zandra Art’s) more wonderful illustrations and other projects on her website, and on sundry social media outlets, like Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also procure your own copy of some of her art from her print shop.
Take a look at the gallery below. Those images are just a handful of my favorites. There are so many, I could have put dozens in this post, and Alexandra frequently adds to that list.