One fine afternoon late last year, I created an uncoordinated dance move and named it “Miša Alexander said yes to illustrating Who’s Got a Normal Family?”
This was an extremely big deal. I’d first worked with Miša a couple of years back when she’d created a beautiful family of characters for a different book proposal. Even though that manuscript was lovingly placed in the bottom drawer, I knew, just knew, I had to work with her again one day.
So let me introduce you to Miša (pronounced Meesha). Miša was born in Vancouver, Canada where she studied at Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design but she made her home in Australia after traveling abroad.
Her talents have seen her work across Australia’s eastern states and design studios internationally but she is now settled on the Northern Rivers where she continues her art practice in ceramic, paintings and illustration whilst maintaining her graphic design business and attending to her young family of three boys, one of whom is autistic.
Needless to say, she’s a little busy so I’m stoked she took time out to answer some questions about creativity and her career so far.
When did you first realise you were a creative and how did that impact your life?
I realised from a young age that I liked to draw, and as I got older it became more prevalent that I was going to have a creative career & life.
It's impacted my life by the choices I made in school; what courses I excelled in, and what I was to study after high school. I always wanted to be a full-time painter, but the practical and wise folks steered me in the direction of graphic design as a fall back. So design has been my creative outlet for the last 20 years ... and finally I am passionately illustrating & painting.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on Fergus & Delilah, a children's book changing a generation view on disabilities and a project I created for my autistic son. It's a book series developed to create more awareness and social inclusion for kids who require extra support.
What is your career highlight thus far?
My career highlight would be working for the United Nations as a designer. I worked in East Timor in 2002 and in Afghanistan in 2005. In both of these locations I worked in the Electoral Commission where I designed the ballot papers. I also worked in the Community Education Unit to help develop materials so nationals would have a better understanding of the process of voting.
It was an amazing experience that no ad or design agency could ever give me.
What are the tools of your trade?
My computer, a pencil, acrylic paint, wine and coffee.
Do you have a muse or influencer?
My kids, my husband, my mother in-law and my mother.
When you have lots of creative ideas, how do you choose what to work on next?
Money. Either it pays, or I have money to create it.
How do you get into the creative mood? Do you have a creative habit?
I don't think I get in the mood, I think it is every part of my life. Everything from arranging weetbix in bowl and the sprinkle of muesli, to making sandwiches, folding laundry, creating a beautiful dinner for my family… sometimes an idea floats in randomly and needs to be expressed in a visual art form.
What advice would you go back and give yourself when you were starting out?
Don't be scared to stand up for self worth.
What’s your chosen method of procrastination?
Cleaning toys off the floor.
What’s your favourite illustration from Who’s Got a Normal Family?
It would be Alex by the window at night, writing/doodling his thoughts by the light of the lamp.
Who’s Got a Normal Family? is Miša Alexander’s first published children’s book. She is currently working on Fergus & Delilah