Deb Turk, ArtFest 2017
Since 2014 Alice has become well known for her maps and quirky infographics which have become a fun way to learn about and celebrate the Island's unique cultural identity.
In March 2016 the Island was awarded the UNESCO Biosphere status and the Year of Our Island 2018 has been about celebrating that. With the most concentrated amount of dark skies sites in the British Isles, January saw the Island hosting it's very own Dark Skies week. As part of that Alice Quayle created a poster of events in her signature style.
We interviewed Alice in January to talk more about her distinctive work.
Q. Hi Alice! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I've been a full-time freelance illustrator since 2014. Before I was doing this, I was an organic gardener, and doing a lot of studying.
My style is hand-drawn, clear and often colourful. I mostly work on commissions, but also do some things I've thought up myself. I do quite a lot of maps and infographics, but also other illustrations like posters and portraits.
I enjoy figuring out how to communicate ideas and info in a clear but whimsical way. People quite often say my pictures and maps are engaging, clear and quite funky. I like to do things that are useful and also interesting and fun. I'm on a bit of a mission to help promote the Island and to help visitors find their way around with my illustrated maps.
"I enjoy figuring out how to communicate ideas and info in a clear but whimsical way."
I have produced work for a range of clients. I have a map of the Island beaches in the 2017 Visit Isle of Man guide, and another of the Island's Dark Skies Sites. Other commissions include illustrated town maps for Peel Commissioners and Ramsey Commissioners, a health panorama for IOM government, a big panorama for Noa Bakehouse explaining how they make their bread, and some simpler work. I've done quite a variety of work: you can see it all on LinkedIn.
I particularly like to work on projects to explore things such as streetscapes, landscapes, history, culture, nature, wildlife, and interesting people and stories... and useful things like promoting the Island.
Q. You are particularly known for your stylised maps of the Island and its local towns, what was the motive and inspiration behind creating those?
Three different things I think set me off on that route:
1) One big inspiration was a charity called Common Ground, which ran in the 80s and 90s, and did creative projects (music, art, poetry, etc ) to celebrate sense of place and community and all the diversity of culture and traditions in the UK. They did an apple map of some of the local varieties, and they had a project called Parish Maps, which asked people to say what they loved most about their area, and then artists turned these into pictures or textiles or maps. So I try and do something similar to that in my illustrated maps.
"Living near an Electric Tram station and having to deal with lots of lost-looking tourists, wanting directions. That made me think 'we really just need a tourist-friendly map here'."
2) Going to touristy places and seeing tourist maps there and thinking they would be useful here on the Isle of Man, to promote the Island and help visitors.
3) Living near an Electric Tram station and having to deal with lots of lost-looking tourists, wanting directions. That made me think 'we really just need a tourist-friendly map here'.
Q. The Island influences your work a lot from your maps to local history, culture and local environmental issues like your recent illustration highlighting plastic in our oceans and how the Isle of Man gave some women the vote as early as 1881. How far do you see your work as an important platform to celebrate/raise awareness of Manx topics?
I don't know about a platform... I think if I lived anywhere I would do some similar work, about things I'm interested in, but based on where I was.
Fortunately, here we have a rich seam of culture, history, and a pretty strong sense of place, language etc: loads to explore. We do have our own history and identity and it's worth drawing, exploring, and interpreting in new ways, I think.
Rather than a one way transmission platform, I think images like my pictures can be good to prompt a lively discussion on social media, or at events. If you create a picture about, say, Manx hills, or beaches or place names, or historical figures; lots of people have thoughts, favourites etc, and new info and ideas, especially if you ask questions, of course. It's interesting to see what people think and sometimes new ideas do come out of chats. Plus, I always learn something myself doing the research for the pictures.
"...here we have a rich seam of culture, history, and a pretty strong sense of place, language etc: loads to explore. We do have our own history and identity and it's worth drawing, exploring, and interpreting in new ways..."
Of course, images like the ones I make can be used to promote the Island and attract visitors and tourists. There's loads of potential there I think. Plus, Manx expats and visitors often like to be reminded of the Island, so some of my pictures end up on people's 'Manx Wall' or 'travel wall', which I really like the idea of.
Hopefully it's useful for newcomers too, to help them find their feet here and settle in.
Alice's illustration of Sophia Goulden and her famous suffragette daughter, Emmeline Pankhurst was featured on BBC North West this week as the UK celebrated the centenary of giving some women the vote in 1918.
Q. You've done a few astronomy related pieces such as your Dark Skies map in 2014 and more recently 'The Way of King Orry'. How did it feel to be asked to help create a poster for Dark Skies Week as part of Year of Our Island?
It's great to be asked to be involved. I think there's a lot of potential to use illustrators and other people in the creative industries to promote the Island, in a fun way. And in a way that can travel quickly, online or in print etc. For instance, as part of Dark Skies week, Brook Wassall ran an astrophotography workshop so if just some of those people go out and start taking good photos of our dark skies, the Milky Way etc; and share that online, that's all good publicity for the Island.
"I think there's a lot of potential to use illustrators and other people in the creative industries to promote the Island, in a fun way."
Alice shared an illustration of 'The Way of King Orry' during Dark Skies Week 2018 and created their poster of events as part of the Year of Our Island initiative.
Q.How do we get in touch and keep up to date?
I'm always happy to chat about commissions: the best way is probably initially to drop me a line through social media, (just google me) and then people can see my work too. And/ or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anyone wants to see or buy prints, the best place is Tynwald Library shop on Finch Road, just to the right of the 'Wedding Cake'; the shop is open during office hours. The Tide in Ramsey sells prints too, and Presence of Mann do my prints by mail order / online shop.
You might also like to read our interview with ceramicist, Katy Mitchell here.