26 August, 2011

Interview with Alanna Cavanagh

Many of your works are portraits of everyday objects, like the fabulous, overscaled scissors. Is there a story behind this piece?

Yes, there is. Anna, you have chosen to ask about the print that means the most to me. Scissors are a humble yet very effective object. One can do some very creative things with a pair of scissors, for example give yourself a new haircut, make a collage or a table cloth... or a dress... so for me the scissors are a celebration of making things with limited resources. I am very interested in limits - that is why I use the scissors in my logo.
Also, when I was growing up, we didnt have a lot of money but my mom always kept me well supplied with crayons, markers and scissors - so the piece is also a kind of homage to her.
In addition, I find many everyday objects like shoes, penguin books and cutlery to be very beautiful. It's fun to change the scale and celebrate them.

I remember you did a print of a vintage bakelite phone you saw at my blog last year... I liked it a lot. The Scissors print takes me back to my Grandmas sewing room, full of fabrics, threads, lace scraps... and fashion magazines. My friend told me once: "you should have been born a 100 years ago". And when I saw your silk prints, I thought, and take it as a compliment: "this girl is a designer from the 60's".

That IS a compliment! Thank you.

Your style reminded me of the graphics from the magazines our Moms and Grandmas used to read. Printing technology was not so advanced back then, but the graphics, for example in advertising columns, were so much nicer... What inspires you?

My squiggly drawing style is very influenced by illustrators from the 1950s including Andy Warhol and Miroslav Sasek. (The guy who did the "This is Paris", "This is London" books) Other big mentors are: Paul Rand, Tibor Kalman, Denyse Schmidt, Lucinenne Day, Tina Fey, Hillman Curtis, Paula Scher. I am also inspired by fleamarkets, antiques, books, film, illustrations and graphics from the 1950s, Shelter magazines, documentaries, textiles, wallpapers, patterns, and... bold people that take chances!

Do you think we are all a bit tired with digital media, with photoshop-airbrushed perfection? Do you notice that there is more and more interest for traditional techniques, hand-created, alive art?

Yes, for sure. I myself was working digitally but craved something more tactile - so I began silk screening. In this crazy, buzzed out, info overloaded world we live in, it is very therapeutic to get your hands dirty!!! I had chosen silk screening because it was more inky compared to the dry quality of working in front of a computer which I had been doing for years. I love the process.
I feel we're living in an interesting time where there is a blurring going on between the design, decoration and art world. For example - Spanish artist / designer Jaime Hayon had solo exhibitions of his work, but also designed lighting fixtures, ceramics and furniture. I find this blurring exciting as it's breaking down the traditional hierarchies. I also love collaborations as I believe cross pollination is good for creativity. 
Tell me something about your newest projects.

Most recently I illustrated a cover for Penguin books and some ads for Target. I also painted a fun mural in the window of a boutique food shop here in Toronto.

What are your plans and graphic-design dreams?

In addition to continuing with the prints and murals I would love to do more surface design work. Surface design is really firing me up these days! I'd love to collaborate with someone on a line of whimsical wallpaper, rugs and ceramics! I'd also love to design a hotel room or perhaps an entire hotel interior! Hey... one can always dream!
Sounds great! Are you planning to make more large-scale prints? Your graphics decorate all types of interiors so nicely, each one a great centerpiece. Is it possible to buy them?

Yes, I love working LARGE, and have many ideas for large prints in the future. The graphics are all for sale. The prices and sizes are listed clearly on my website under the silk screen print section. I offer a 20% design discount to interior designers and those in the industry.

I would definitely want one of your beautiful silk screen prints in my living-room! Alanna, thank you for the interview!


photography: Donna Griffith (top image) and Janet Kimber


  1. Replies


  2. This is such a great interview! Excellent questions and it's so nice to discover Alanna Cavanagh.

  3. I loved this interview - so informative yet very personal and intimate.
    Loving these artworks and the scissors are fantastic!

    Thank you for this.
    xx Charlotta

  4. Thanks for this. I especially love the piece with the quotations. It looks great hanging above the antique chest.

    Have a great weekend
    Priscilla Joy

  5. Fabulous interview and work!
    Love the swing!


  6. Thank you for your love words! Your blog is beautiful, too;)...

    A nice day/weekend

  7. Fabulous interview. Just love her work! It is so inspiring! And the scissors are just fabulous I think it's great that they pointing up, there is a since of danger and rebellion:) Just fabulous! You brightened my day.

  8. Carrie, I'm sure Alanna will be very happy reading this!
    I also like the fact that the scissors are pointing up - ready and impatient :)

  9. What an amazing artist! I really enjoyed reading the interview! xoxoxoo

  10. Love the interview! Have a WONDERFUL weekend!
    xx Marie

  11. She really has an extraordinary way of viewing "everyday objects". Love her work.

  12. I adore your blog very much.
    I just added it to the list of may blogs.
    Thanks for splendid interviev.
    I want these scissors:)

  13. great interview. love the interiors.

  14. every single part has certain terrific detailed beauty,cute designs,ideal place for a rest,especially adore these special paintings in simple drawing lines...

  15. These prints are totally lovely! :-)

  16. Piękne! Nie znałam wcześniej prac Alanny - dziękuję!
    Bardzo dobry wywiad. Czy zajmujesz się dziennikarstwem zawodowo?

  17. Hazel, thanks... I'm not a journalist :)
    I like writing - maybe because I'm not very talkative?

  18. Alanna's scissors painting is really cool. I love how she's taken something simple and given it a sense of grandeur by painting it so big :-)

    I have a feeling Alanna will be creating some really funky wallpaper designs soon :-)

  19. I lOVE that food print..and her answer about the scissors...i've never thought of them in quite that way!

  20. Love the art work its so fun and playful.....thank you for your sweet comment ,I'm your newest follower!

  21. Very entertaining interview you had! Her work is cheerful and stylish. It makes me smile when I watch her works and that is what it's all about isn't it?

  22. Hei! Så hyggelig at du fant veien til bloggen min :-)
    Supert intervju, og spennende blogg du har - legger meg til som følger her :-)

  23. Fantastic interviews! The sketches are gorgeous- so effortless. Absolutely my style



  24. that art is so different! love it!

  25. Oh yes, this way of design I like. Modern and vintage, many contrasts with individual elements. Like the same by your last post. All is possible, nothing must be ... ;)


  26. wonderful interview, Anna! a delight to read.

    p.s.: yes, I recommend the book but I love the movie even more. there are some conversation in Way of Peaceful Warrior that really answered some question I had in mind :-)

  27. Great interview! Loved her work! I liked the vintage feel to it, yet its so modern!



  28. What a great interview. Thanks for sharing. Will be on the lookout for her surface designs.


  29. Amazing work! Thanks for discovering her. Fabulous interview by the way! xx

  30. Wow, thanks for sharing this! I love her work!

  31. omg omg omg... i love all


  32. amazing!!!! love it!!!
    i found for you the way to find the stools you liked on one fo my post. it's here: http://www.normcph.com/

  33. That shot with the piano and metal chair is definitely my favorite...never would've paired the two together, but I guess that is what talented artists *do*...show you the potential in everything! Lovely!

  34. the artwork & interview are great!


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