Welcome to the first in our series of artist Q & A. Allison Cole recently completed The Tour Diary for us and took some time away from making art to talk about travel, life after RISD and getting drunk on an airplane.
Do you travel much? Any trip in particular that stands out?
Not as much as I used to....now most trips that I take are just hopping on the train down to NY. When I was in college I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Rome, that was a pretty amazing trip!
Are the drawings in the book based on personal experience? (like have you ever gotten drunk on a plane to relieve flight anxiety?).
I always get drunk on a plane! I am the worst flyer ever, I hate the whole experience!
How did you come to have the character style you use in the book and in your comics as a stand-in for more realistic drawings of people? When it's based on someone you know, how do you figure out what you will change about the character to make it look more like that person?
I really don't know how it all started, it wasn't a deliberate effort to start drawing people like that, it just kind of happened one day. Guys are a little harder to define with details than girls, but it's usually an accessory or something that really reminds me of the person.
You are focusing more now on cut paper for your art shows. What brought you to cut paper instead of doing drawings?
I think that all comes back to my printmaking background and my complete inability to paint. With printmaking you have to come up with an idea and then break it down to layers and flat color. I tried painting that way and it didn't work out too well at all, so I turned to the cut paper and it all just made sense from there.
The Tour Diary is drawn mostly with a tablet, right? How has using a tablet changed your art, if at all?
I love drawing with a tablet and working in Illustrator for illustration work, it is so much more time efficient than scanning drawings into Photoshop. And you can really zoom in and get down to the details. I don't think I could ever draw an entire graphic novel with a tablet, but for certain purposes it makes a lot of sense.
Besides drawing comics and doing paper cut art you also make wallets and bags for your online shop called Bang! Bang! You're Thread. When and how did you start crafting?
I've been sewing and stuff like that for years...I became involved when I started participating in RISD student sales (they put together about 2 a year) local Providence-area craft shows and going to comics conventions. Pretty much the whole experience of selling self-published comics at these events and to stores opened my eyes to all of the fun things I could be making! And the internet and having a website really helped too.
You went to RISD and still live in RI. What is the art community like there and was that a part of why you wanted to stay? It seems like a lot of people who went to RISD are involved in the craft community or world of illustration in some way and I guess I'm just wondering what's in the water there? Or is it just a coincidence? At this point in your life is RISD even a factor to you or just part of your bio?
I loved every minute of RISD, it is a small school and Providence is a small city. Most students lived in off-campus housing, and as a result that connected us all more to the city. All of my closest friends are still my friends from school, RISD really brings together a great community and a great group of people. And Providence has super cheap rent!