So Canadian eh? : Alanna Cavanagh

This week you are in for a treat. My guest this week has been one I have admired for quite some time after I first spotted her art in an interior featured in Canadian House and Home! 

Please welcome....

She is 
A sought after illustrator and artist, Alanna's work has graced the walls of interiors, pages of magazine and most recognizably the cover of Penguin Books!

I have been in LOVE with her work since I first saw this photo

So naturally I have now managed to spot her work everywhere! Love the vintage 50's vibe her artwork evokes. I can totally see one of her prints hanging in my house. 

Alanna's living room

A book cover.

I think "Lacey Legs" needs to find a space on my wall, non?

{all photos courtesy of Alanna Cavanagh}

Tell us a bit about yourself; what is your background, your education? Have you always dabbled in art? 

Yes I've always been doing art. As a child I was rarely seen without crayons or markers in my hand and I won my first colouring contest at 6. I studied Art History + Comparative Religion at University of Toronto and for a while thought I might be a museum curator but my love of creating asserted itself after graduation and I began to pursue a career in illustration. In 2005 after many years working on the computer as a commercial illustrator  I was craving a more inky + tactile way of producing art so I took a workshop in silk screening - and soon began a second career as a printmaker! I now divide my time equally between the 2 careers.

Where do you get inspiration for your artwork?

My work is very inspired by artists from the 1950s especially the early fashion illustrations of Andy Warhol and the wonderful work of Miroslav Sasek. (The guy who did the incredible series of This is Paris, This is New York books)
I'm also inspired by fashion, fleamarkets, textiles, travelling... almost everything.

You are such a talented designer/artist, your work featured in many publications, in amazing homes, and you are an illustrator for various clientele, such as Penguin Books. How did you get your “break”?

In illustration my big break came when I signed with an agent: Shelley Brown of i2i art. She was able to promote my work to an international market and soon after signing with her I was working for clients such as The New York Times, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Real Simple magazine, VISA, and Brooks Brothers amongst many others. She was also stellar at negotiating fees and handling contracts which was a god's send for me as I - like most artists- are notoriously bad at this part of the business! :-)

With my silk screen prints my break came when several of my customers had their homes featured in Decor magazines or blogs - such as Canadian House + Home, Design files, and Wish magazine. This introduced my work to a wide audience of design enthusiasts plus many design editors + writers.

What tips do you have for aspiring artists/designers to get noticed, to establish themselves in the design scene?

The first tip is of course to work hard and develop a focused and distinct style.
Illustration Mundo is a great website for helping you to do this.
The founder Nate Williams has a great list of resources on it plus very helpful answers for illustrators who are just starting out.
It's also helpful to enter your work in contests like 3X3 or Communication arts or on sites like Threadless as art directors often check there for new talent.
If you are specifically interested in surface design I would recommend investing in a booth at the Surtex show in NYC.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

I naturally love silk screen but also really enjoy working with pastels, watercolour and my latest fave: collage.

What goals/aspirations do you have for yourself?

I am currently working on a series of  animated films and would love to do more of them. I'm also very interested in doing more surface design- ie. creating work for fabrics, notecards, bedsheets etc etc! This connects to my love for decor - which I find 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Watch films, read books, and have long drawn out dinners with good food, lots of wine and close friends.

Tell us one thing that would surprise us!

I used to be in musical theatre and still know how to tap dance. :-)

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I wanted an outlet to share my inspirations and intense enthusiasm for design!

I am so excited you agreed to be interview Alanna, as a long-time admirer it was fabulous to find out a bit more about you! Fingers crossed I can own one of your prints one day.

XO Barbara


  1. Alanna's work is beautiful and hold so much energy and excitement.

    Thank you for the introduction and sharing


  2. I love Alanna's style and work! So fun and fresh!

  3. Barbara a wonderful interview with Alanna's. I adore her art and illustrations; a very talented and interesting artist!

    Please do come and join my new Fashion Giveaway from Fresh Produce!

    Art by Karena

  4. What a delightfully creative woman!
    Her home & her art are inspiring!...Great style!
    Thanks again for the introduction!

  5. I love her work!!! It's super fun and you can tell she is a true artist.

  6. Thank you for the introduction. I also want one of her drawings! I am hopping over to her blog to see if she has a little store somewhere.

    Happy Sunday dear Barb.

    ox, Mon

  7. LOVE this interview! Alana's work caught my eye a long time ago with her scissors print, and it's so great to learn more about her! Good one! :)

  8. Thanks Barb!! I love Alana's work and I first noticed her work for Brooks Brothers during my visit of Hollace Cluny ( and my personal fav maybe the big red scissor!

    I will have to save up some $$ to get one of her Penguin Books and perhaps in blue!

    I can't wait to see more of Alana's work in notecards, fabrics and bedsheets!

  9. LOVE those lacey legs!! Great interview! So happy to have found your blog!

  10. Love Alanna's work! So proud of this Canadian gal ;) xo


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