I can’t help but fall in love with the illustrations put forth by an independent press called Opposite The Alley, which is run by two artists, Emma Evans and Iselle Maddocks. Run out of Cheltenhem England, these two talents run this company in an attempt to give upcoming artists exposure (much like our magazine). Opposite the Alley truly offers a wide range of illustrations and the hands behind them, with everything from colorful and bright drawings to black and white comic styles. Shop their book “First” which is up for grabs on their website here.
We asked Iselle Maddocks a few questions about how Opposite The Alley came about.
What made you start this company?
First and foremost Illustration! At university, myself and Emma got on well and had similar interests in building a company that could produce our own work as well as being able to showcase illustrations of a high quality. But also the idea that we wanted to produce beautiful books and products. We wanted to experience many aspects of the publishing business, such as being the art editors, project managers, book designers etc. so we decided to do it all ourselves. This has proved to be a strange new experience as we are both practicing illustrators, yet in this instance it’s like the tables have been turned and we get to be the art directors in charge of the operation.
What is your background in art?
Both of us at OTA studied Illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and then we just continued creating and drawing. We both loved to illustrate, make books and small publications so we thought we would combine all of these things and take it to the next level. Emma’s work uses a whole load of colourful inks and my work has a strong basis in screen printing and mainly consists of inventing odd characters.
What do you look for in illustrators to represent?
At OTA we look for somebody with a creative edge, who works hard and has something a bit different to offer. Along with this we aim to get illustrators who we personally admire and enjoy the work of. All of the images we choose to use are of a narrative basis that can tell an interesting story or carry a message.
Where did the name Opposite The Alley come from?
After a struggle to find a name that fit perfectly we realised that our meetings about the company were always held in the same place. This place went on to be the venue of our ‘First’ exhibition and helped us put our ideas into motion. So it’s name originates from that building, the very early days and the alleyway on the same street that each week used to stare us in the face.
Tell us more about your book currently for sale now, “First”. And tell us how the name came about.
‘First’ is a black and red limited edition publication made using Risography. It features fifteen illustrators who work in completely differing styles on an international scale. It was created with the intention of showcasing both work by established artists along with that of emerging talent. As this was to be OTA’s first publication we chose the pertinent name of ‘First’ to act as both the title and the theme of the illustrations to which we received some incredible responses. It includes work by the awesome Luke Pearson, Julia Wauters and Catell Ronca.
What are the upcoming projects you have for 2014?
This year holds many plans! We have an exclusive 24 page publication from Kelly Bastow, a Canadian Illustrator to kick off our Letterbooks series. Comics in envelopes! This is made using Risography and to be released in May. This will be followed with a full colour book by OTA’s own Emma Evans. ‘Peppered Seas’ by Jamie Tobin an emerging talent, will be released in early June. ‘Second’ is already in motion. Which we are very excited for and cannot wait to share the results!
After our successful book release last year we aim to do more events in 2014. Events that celebrate everything we love about the comic world and creative people, such as book releases and exhibitions containing exclusive illustrative work.
OTA will be at both ELCAF, London and Thoughtbubble, Leeds this year to get our books out there. We are always on the look out for new stockists and want to get our books seen by as many as possible. We’d be proud and are positive that people will enjoy what they see.
What’s currently on your drawing desk right now? (tools, supplies, projects, etc)
Hmm… Everything would be the longest part of this interview! Many post-it-notes with lists of things to be done or to illustrated, a large selection of pens/markers/pencils/brushes in cans, some acrylics, bottles of ink, a Wacom tablet, and an iMac. I have a few dummy books too and the workings of a design for a new OTA sketchbook. There seems to be a tool for everything… and then the kitchen sink too.
What’s on the wishlist as far as art supplies go? Which mediums do you prefer?
Our own Risograph printer with lots a garish coloured inks and a big pile of freshly cut paper would be the best thing we could ask for right now. This way of printing is fantastic… it allows you to work as though you are screen printing but adds a slightly different edge to the way you create illustrations.
Opposite the Alley is currently representing which artists?
Kelly Bastow, Emma Evans, Myself (Iselle Maddocks), Jamie Tobin and Zanna Goldhawk. Yet we are always on the search for new and interesting styles/illustrators that we could work with. A full list of illustrators in ‘First’ can be found through oppositethealley.co.uk
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