Exclusive: Alice Lancaster wears her heroes
Alice Lancaster is effectively taking over the art and fashion world. Case in point? The Buswhick-based artist made waves with her illustration for American Apparel t-shirts in collaboration with Petra Collins that made many a meninist wince in horror and even more women cheer on. Since then, Lancaster has not only won a following with her portraits and figure drawings, but she’s also taken the liberty of dipping into fashion again, this time collaborating with VEDA to create a handful of jealousy-inducing leather jackets. We talked to Alice about her subjects, VEDA, and her earliest memory of painting.
How long ago did you move to New York and what prompted the move?
I moved to New York about three years ago to pursue a career as an artist.
Your art is very colorful and mainly delves into figures and portraits. How do you select your subjects? What inspires you?
As for portraits I select subjects based on who the individual is and what they do. If I am personally inspired by them I’m more inclined to paint them as opposed to a model in a magazine. Lately I’ve been really inspired by architecture, interior design, and anything with lots of lines and shapes. That’s where my inspiration for my more abstract figurative paintings stem from.
You created that amazing shirt with Petra Collins of a menstruating vagina that garnered a lot of polemic. Why do you think our society is so uncomfortable with the portrayal of female anatomy when it isn’t sexualized?
I think it caused a ruckus simply because it was so graphic. It’s a shocking image. Not so much the vagina, but the blood. It’s so strange the way women are hyper-sexualized in magazine ads and billboards, but when I post an image of one of my paintings of a nude woman on Instagram I get a warning telling me I’ve posted something that goes against their guidelines. It’s kind of insane.
If you could be a character in any movie whom would you choose?
I’m more of a TV girl… Elaine Benes.
How did the collaboration with VEDA come about? How did you choose which characters to portray?
The collaboration with VEDA came about really naturally. I came across their Instagram and made a note to myself to propose a collaboration but before I even emailed them I got an email from the creative director Lyndsey Butler asking me to work with them on some jackets. I wanted to choose inspiring creatives – both men and women (but I only ended up painting one man because the others I had considered wouldn’t have turned out well on jackets).
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on a couple customized pieces, a painting just for fun, and talking with Maryam Nassir Zadeh about doing some hand-painted canvas tote bags for her store this summer.
If you could’ve been present for any three historical moments in time which ones would you choose?
The building of the pyramids, Stonehenge, and when the dinosaurs became extinct.
What is your earliest memory of painting?
I had just completed my first painting. A nude, a woman reclining. The brush strokes were perfection. The color palette was warm and soft like that of freshly baked bread. I was 3.
If you could have any super power which would you choose?
Shop the Alice Lancaster x VEDA collection here.
Photos by Ben Rayner