Alexandra Nea Graham is a creative genius. She is so TALENTED…forget the capital T, she is so talented it deserves all the freaking capitals. I’m especially in awe of Alexandra considering I struggle to even draw a stick figure! I have been a long time admirer of Alexandra’s illustrations after seeing one of her fashion drawings a few years back – again, perhaps due to my lack of talent in the area – and I had to find out more about the artist behind the work! As you can see scattered throughout her interview below, her illustrations are next level beautiful. Starting out her career as a fashion designer and working at well known fashion houses for over a decade, the launch of her side hustle: The Art Of Afternoon Tea, an illustrated blog in 2011 saw her slowly take the leap two years later and follow her heart to become a freelance illustrator where she has now forged a successful career commissioning both private and commercial work. Alexandra is incredibly sweet and takes it all in her stride and is a firm believer in women championing other women which lights the fire in my belly, I am loving sharing wisdom from all of these amazing women. And what a gift it is having such talented creative artists such as this lovely lady who brighten the world and inspire us with their sublime pieces of art and incredibly raw talent.
I really want to hear what you love most about Alexandra’s interview – please do share with me in the comments below! Every time I read through these beautiful inspiring words I am uplifted. The biggest takeaway I took is her incredible self belief and her forthright attitude that if you are prepared to work hard and determined to make it happen, your most wildest dreams can come to life. She knows that the glass ceiling is there to be shattered and she’s living proof that it can be. I am incredibly inspired by how real and practical she is, Alexandra knows that there’s no such thing as an overnight success but in the same breath knows that as long as you give your best and continue to apply yourself you will get there. I love her attitude and outlook on life and it has been a true pleasure interviewing her. I’m super excited for you to read it and for anyone struggling with the desire to leave their ‘safe’ job to pursue their passion or side hustle, I hope this waters the seed that’s been planted, injects a little extra enthusiasm and belief into you that you can absolutely make it happen! At the end of the day, it’s all up to you!
ALEXANDRA NEA GRAHAM // ILLUSTRATOR
One word you would use to describe yourself?
‘Have the courage to believe in your own ideas’
What is your philosophy on life?
Whatever the project you are tackling, apply yourself 100%, do it thoroughly and thoughtfully and you will reap the rewards.
What would you tell your younger self?
To my 21 year old self – do not worry one little bit about what others think of you. Have the courage to believe in your own ideas and drive and determination to see them into reality.
Which characteristics do you most admire in the people you choose to surround yourself with?
Patience and compassion, qualities I fear I lack in myself.
Advice for finding your passion and turning it into a career?
Be curious and open to each opportunity that comes your way.
What brings you joy in your work?
Capturing beautiful details of the special moments in other people’s lives and seeing their joyous reaction to my interpretations and creations.
Creatively, who or what inspires you?
The 1920’s period in history always draws me in. The art movements of the time, Nouveau merging into Deco produced some incredible works or art, architecture and decorative arts. The fashion and textile design of that time was sublime, intricate and inspired by far away exotic places, it was magical and very inspiring to me.
What has been your greatest achievement and how has it shaped you?
Having my son, Sam, who is now two. Children change you, make you think more about your actions, their consequences. They force you to become less selfish and they make you rethink every action you take. They make you a better (if not a much more exhausted) human being.
Have you experienced setbacks / failures? If so, what did they teach you?
Of course. Taking the incorrect path or job have happened to me in the past. It teaches you what you don’t like and perhaps what you are not so good at, where your weaknesses lie, which is very handy in reinforcing the skills and areas you should be focusing on instead.
‘But with age comes the wisdom that everyone out there, no matter how confident and experienced they appear, is really just winging it, same as you are!’
From your experience, do you have any wisdom to impart on networking and ‘putting yourself out there’?
It is only now that I am in my 30’s that I feel I have the confidence and life experience to throw my weight behind my decisions and opinions in certain areas, I know I can back myself. I feel slight regret that in my 20’s I was too timid and lacking in confidence in my abilities and that because of this I may have missed some excellent opportunities. But with age comes the wisdom that everyone out there, no matter how confident and experienced they appear, is really just winging it, same as you are! Manners go a very long way in my book. Always follow up and thank someone if they take the time to offer you an opportunity or discuss your career with you, whether it leads anywhere or not you never know, it might be the seed that is planted for an incredible experience down the track.
How do you pick yourself up when you’ve had a really bad day?
Why do you believe in positive self-talk and how can we be kinder to ourselves?
To be honest I believe more in just getting on with it. Don’t sulk, just pick yourself up, dust yourself down. Did you fail because of a mistake you did? If so, learn from it and don’t do it again. Was it because of someone else? Well, think creatively and approach the situation differently next time. Be kinder to yourself by knowing what works for you, what makes you happy and don’t let anyone else stomp all over that.
How do you cultivate self love and combat negative self-talk?
We all have doubts, it’s refreshing to realise that even the most confident of people don’t believe in themselves from time to time. The only way to combat negative feelings is to take action towards making the thing a reality. Each step, whether a forwards or backwards should be considered a positive action as you are working towards your goals, you will look back in time and not believe how far you have come.
Something you don’t tell yourself enough?
You’re doing pretty well with this thing called life!
‘Be kinder to yourself by knowing what works for you, what makes you happy and don’t let anyone else stomp all over that.’
If you had a ‘MY 3AM MIND’ notebook, what would we find in it?
Scribbles of beautiful objects, fashion, ideas, solutions to problems.
Have you found any full proof ways of dealing with stress / worry?
Telling myself, there is always someone out there with more worries than you, you are ok and tomorrow is another day.
Why do you believe in kindness?
Tiny random acts of kindness can make someones day. They in turn feel good about themselves and go on to pass that good feeling in the way of actions onto the the people they encounter in their own day.
The kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
Too many things to choose from. I am very lucky to have a wonderful family, I have married into a kind and generous family and I now have a little family of my own.
In your opinion, how can we cultivate more kindness in our day to day lives?
By being aware of those around you and alert to any unhappiness, no matter how big or small, they might be experiencing. Just today I was packing the groceries into the car after a big food shop, struggling to manage that and a wiggling toddler from running off into the car park and a lady came up to me and took my empty trolley out of my hands just as it was about to slide away and hit my car and said, “here, let me put that away for you, I have kids, I know what it’s like.” That simple act of kindness has brought a smile to my face all day. Such a little thing but she saw she could help and reached out.
‘Be aware of those around you and alert to any unhappiness, no matter how big or small, they might be experiencing.’
Why is it integral for girls and women to support one another and build each other up rather than tear each other down – and in what ways can we do so?
Compliment each other and genuinely mean it, it will make someones day. Work on promoting your fellow woman rather than being jealous of their success and tearing them down. Don’t talk nasty talk about people behind their backs, it’s tacky and very unprofessional.
Advice you can share on believing in yourself and feeding your dreams?
Just put your head down and work damn hard. Success never happens overnight, and if it does it is fleeting and won’t last. It is vital to build yourself from the ground up, you will become so much stronger and more confident in your abilities.
Life is too short to tolerate….
If you had 1 minute to be able to reach and inspire every young girl and woman around the world, what would your message be?
Don’t live up to the cliches that society has built as the model for females. Surprise people with your abilities, wit and intellect and always be working hard to break the mould.
Your favorite quote that always inspires you?
“Forget the glass slipper Baby Girl, you just smash that glass ceiling and keep on soaring.”
‘Work on promoting your fellow woman rather than being jealous of their success and tearing them down.’