Alex Lekias is a self-taught artist from Perth who learnt a valuable lesson from the GFC. She wasn't able to get a start in creative advertising design after studying it at university and a specialist school. So she took the spare time she had on her hands and did what she really loved - create artworks. On November 18 she will open her first Sydney exhibition at Friends of Leon gallery.
Which five words best describe you? Messy, sentimental, daydreamy, silly, tea-drinker.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started out just drawing for my own pleasure. I studied film and creative advertising design at uni and found that my favourite parts were thinking up concepts and storyboarding. I was really getting into comics and graphic novels at the time, so I started working on narrative ideas and designing characters to write and draw a little graphic novel of my own as that medium seemed ideal for what I was interested in - telling a story and visualising it through drawings. A lot of my friends were organising collaborative local art-meets-music projects and opening submission group shows about town, so I started submitting work for those and drawing artwork for my manfriend's band. I realised increasingly that I really loved the practise of thinking up concepts and realising them through drawing, more so than the practise I was studying at university. After uni I got into this industry-run creative advertising course called AWARD School. I was told that if you won a place when graduating from this course, it was likely that you'd be head hunted by an ad agency, the possibility of which appealed to me as I am the worst "schmooser" in the whole world and thought this was the least tedious, least wanky route to get work. As it turned out our class graduated pretty much as the GFC hit, and despite coming second in the competition, no job offers came my way and the prospect of getting any work in the industry was pretty bleak. So I thought to myself, what better time than this to have a bash at what I have always wanted to do - a solo exhibition! So I found a gallery that liked my stuff and had a opening in their calendar for me to show and I worked toward a new collection of work to exhibit, asked friends to lend a hand with the logistical side of things, and put on an exhibition. I found the whole experience full-on and completely exciting, and I decided that this was definitely, for now at least, what I wanted to do. Then my friend Jodee Knowles (a beautiful artist) kindly showed some of my stuff to the gorgeous Leon after she had an exhibition with Friends of Leon and he asked me if I would like to show with him. The moral of which was that I am indebted to the GFC, as without that old son of a gun I might not have received the nudge into the direction that I think I really deep down truly wanted to take myself.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Pursuing the "sensible", "rational", "safe" route isn't always best, because if your heart's not in it, it makes it difficult to motivate yourself and enjoy what you do. I think I heard Stephen Fry say in an interview recently something along the lines of - if you have have a fall-back plan, you will almost definitely fall back into it. I was lucky in that my fall-back plan got taken off the table for me and that pushed me to just go for it and focus all energy into what I really wanted to do, which is making art. I guess time is the most precious commodity, and it feels good to spend it doing what you love, and what that is is different for everybody. If you love what you do, working your ass off doesn't feel like a chore and you are able to invest 100% of yourself and enjoy doing it.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Probably this exhibition; it has been the largest collection of work I have produced. Fingers crossed people will enjoy seeing it.
What’s been your best decision? To put on an exhibition and put my stuff out there. And to no longer expend time and energy pursuing something that I thought I should do and instead invest my energies into what I want to do.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? Researching and realising the concept of this body of work and defining what I was setting out to do. I apply the creative process I learnt when I was studying creative advertising design to my art practise. Research, single-minded proposition - once you have defined and clarified in your mind what you are intending to do and what the overall theme or concept of what the collection of work is going to be, I find it easier to generate relevant ideas for each art work.
Who inspires you? Pixar Studios. I think they are the most creative, inventive, universally engaging, socially aware, multifaceted art-force out there right now, in my opinion anyway. And people who are enthusiastic and find interest in the world around them, are open-mined, kind and helpful to others and appreciate silliness.
What are you passionate about? Making and experiencing art, learning more about the world, sharing stories, enjoying good food and wine with family and friends, and Seinfeld.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Off the top of my head
here is my ultimate dinner party guest list: David Attenborough, Larry David, Hayao Miyazaki, Stanley Kubrick, Mel Brooks, Stan Lee, David Bowie, John Hughes, Aubrey Beardsley, Peter Ustinov being Prince John from Disney's Robin Hood, Bjork, my grandfathers, and Oprah to announce each guest as they enter and hide treats under our seats.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would love to work on an animated film and to illustrate a graphic novel or have a crack at translating some of my ideas three dimensionally - work that encourages a bit more tactile audience engagement. I'd also love to collaborate with someone from a different discipline, a writer or a scientist or a psychologist or my little brothers.
What are you reading? I must admit, I am very behind on my reading, I've been busy drawing! The last books I read were the Persepolis graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. Incredible books, such a beautifully realised and intimate autobiography.
images courtesy of alex lekias and friends of leon