SURREAL WORLDS - Interview with Allison Filice

I’m a San Francisco based freelance illustrator. I live with my amazing husband Alex and fluffy cat Olive. My background is in design; I studied visual and industrial design in San Francisco and London. My work is inspired by color, nature, and the mysteries of the universe. I’m also really interested in psychology, philosophy, personality, the weird stuff happening in physics, science fiction, and more. There is magic happening all around us!

When did you begin illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating full time for about a year. Before that, I was doing user experience design and graphic design professionally, and dabbled in illustration when I had the time. I’ve always been inspired by illustration, and I finally realized it was part of my path.

How would you describe your style?

I’d say the style of my personal work is “friendly psychedelic”, but some of my client work is actually pretty far from psychedelic. More technically I’d say my style is very two dimensional, simplistic, and has bold line-work and color.

You mention you’re inspired by “color, nature, and the mysteries of the universe,” can you tell us a little bit about that?

There’s a magical draw to each one of those things that inspires me to create and grow. They give me energy. I really enjoy how the more we know, the weirder and more mysterious things get. Life wouldn’t be exciting if we knew everything; the mystery is the best part.

How do you choose your subject matter?

I find interesting ideas all over the place. Sometimes I’ll encounter an idea, or an image, or a place, and I have a really joyous response to it, like I can see part of myself in it. Other times I see images in my mind and I try to translate them into an illustration. I’m really drawn to symbols and surreal subject matter, and I’ve been trying to build a personal library of symbols to work with.

You have a really awesome and unique illustration style, what influenced your work?

Thank you! I was really influenced by ligne claire illustrators like Hergé, Jooste Swarte and Moebius, and also by the psychedelic art of Milton Glaser. Science fiction had a big impact on me. I’m more into the cerebral and philosophical stuff than the action packed stuff. I love the bizarreness of the universe; it’s so influential to my work.

What do you want people to takeaway from your illustrations?

My work is about giving a friendly face to the unknown, and creating doorways that lead to self-discovery. I hope people leave my work feeling curious about themselves and the world.

What kind of things do you like to do for fun, away from designing and illustrating?

I love reading, going for walks in the park, drinking tea/coffee, being in nature. I like to study subjects that are intriguing to me. Right now I’m learning about Carl Jung’s ideas on archetypes, symbols, and dreams, and how he believed they’re the key to self-discovery..

What sort of projects do you like, or would like, to work on? Are you working on any big projects now?

I like projects that allow me to play with new ideas I’m encountering - things that are at the forefront of my understanding. I’m trying to find ways to incorporate my artwork into helping people. I have some ideas, and I’ll be exploring those projects next.

What’s your favorite thing to design and/or draw?

The invisible and the infinite. They’re impossible concepts to visualize, so it becomes fun to try to capture the emotions of them with the symbols we have.

Where do you see your art in five years?

I hope to be really confident and connected with the work I’m making in five years, and I hope I’m having fun doing it. I’ve grown so much in the last year; it’s hard to imagine where I’ll be in five years time. Check back with me then!