Creating a Happy Place: Interview with Alice SB

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Creating a Happy Place: Interview with Alice SB

In this interview with Alice SB, we ask her about her mental health awareness initiatives and why her style is so wonderfully vibrant.

Alice SB creates work that is vivid, bright, and beautiful. Often, it encompasses an air of positivity and happiness...and that's not a mistake. An advocate for mental health awareness, kindness, and cartoon comfort corners, Alice's artwork, and artists philosophy, is exemplary for its support and delightful optimism. Creating out of Forever Bound in Bristol, we spoke to Alice about her inspirations and upcoming projects.  

What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer and how did you get into tattooing?

My background is pretty non existent in terms of academic stuff but I was always drawing as a kid, mostly the Powerpuff Girls, and I’ve always been pretty creative. If I wasn’t drawing I’d be making stuff. I didn’t study art at school and I didn’t go to uni, ironically because I didn’t like being told what I had to draw and when I had to draw it by and now that’s my job. I remember being really attracted to tattooing from a pretty young age because it was really alien to me. No one in my family is tattooed even to this day. 

In terms of getting my apprenticeship I was totally just in the right place at the right time. It was just one random remark in one random conversation and now, after a lot of hard work, I have the best job in the world. My apprenticeship was pretty traditional and I’m really grateful to Toni for that. It definitely taught me the value in tattooing, and to respect it. Tattooing is so much more than I thought it was, it’s totally changed the way I look at art as a whole, but also human relationships and permanence. Tattooing is the best thing that ever happened to me and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor in Toni Moore.

So, you do everything from New School animation characters like those from Adventure Time, all the way to Traditional lady head pieces. Can you talk a little bit about your style and how it’s evolved over time? Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not?

Style wise I guess if it’s solid and bright then I’m pretty happy regardless of the subject matter. I think my aim in terms of design is just to give the customer something fun and clean thats gonna hold up. I think traditional tattooing allows you to give a tattoo charm and style but also it can be totally goofy. You want a cartoon character on your leg forever? Sick, let’s make it bold and solid and it’ll look great and be fun when you’re 90. In the same way you can take really classic imagery and make it beautiful and poignant and clean and it’s still gonna look great and have class when you’re 90. I don’t know if I’d really define my work as a certain style, I’m definitely still finding my feet. There’s a lot of tattooing out there so finding your place is a bit daunting. I haven’t been tattooing very so long I have a tonne to learn. 

My influences are pretty varied, there are so many people I look up to artistically. A few tattooists that I’m super into right now are Danny Derrick and Adrian Hing. And Greg Whitehead - though I’m pretty sure at this point that he’s some kind of tattooing robot and not really a human. Outside of tattooing it varies so much! I’m really into the Pre-Raphaelite and arts and crafts movements, Rossetti and Millais especially, which explains the lady heads I guess. I could tattoo girl heads every day for the rest of my life and be pretty happy. I’ve always been really into animation, so Sylvain Chomet and Hayao Miyazaki go on the list. Cartoons are my happy place.

I really love that you’ve worked to raise money for Papyrus, a charity that helps prevent the younger generation from suicide. Why is mental health awareness an important cause for you? What are some other charities or causes that really resonate with you?

Papyrus are amazing and do loads of great work with kids and teens. I think due to generational beliefs, a lot of kids are still growing up in environments where their caregivers stigmatize mental health issues, so approaching kids outside of the home unit is more important than ever. I think if you can set a kid up with the right skills to cope with how they feel, and how they think about what they feel, then you could change the world. Personally I’d hate to grow up right now, especially with the rise of social media. I find it hard to navigate as an adult, let alone growing up in a world where you’re bombarded with how you should look or feel or think and having this thing constantly demand your attention. I get that it has its up-sides, it’s easier to find your people and find positivity with all that information at hand, but I think you have to be pretty tough to go without the odd social media induced wobble nowadays. Something like that can be the straw that broke the camels back for a lot of young kids. I hope that more awareness can lead to kids being given the tools to deal with the added pressure they’re facing, and not just in privileged western society.

If you could only read one book, listen to one album, and eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Okay so the book is the last Harry Potter. The album is really hard.. I think it’s Magnolia Electric Co by Songs:Ohia. Or Silent Alarm by Bloc Party. Can I have two? Eat one thing I can give a single answer to, it’s Tofu Ramen. I think you could actually live forever on ramen too. The dinner question is my obsession right now! If you’ve been tattooed by me in the last six weeks I’ve asked you this question. My answer changes everyday but right now I think it would be Walt Disney.

Do you have any plans for 2019 that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, projects, merch releases, etc?

I have few things coming up in 2019 that I’m excited about! I’m hoping to work my first convention this year, at Bristol Convention and I am equal parts terrified and excited. I’m also doing my first guest spot with my pal Gem Carter down at her studio Black Rose in Barnstaple May 3rd and 4th. I’d definitely like to do some other UK guest spots towards the end of the year. I’ve also just signed off on some new clothing releases with the skate store Route One for their Scarred for Life range so that’s exciting! They’re super cool to work with. Other than that just hoping to paint more this year.

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