Kaylene Alder

By Kate Marsden

Another chance to meet one of our Just A Card team members this week as we explore the world of multi talented, all round lovely person Kaylene Alder. Kaylene is one of our tiny army of tweeters and you may also have spotted her marching around London markets, baby in tow, making people engage with our campaign!

Read on to find out more about Kaylene’s work and her wonderful new (and very timely) project, Plant Prints for Peace.

Tell us a little about you. What do you do? 

Hello! I’m Kaylene and I’m a freelance illustrator, print maker, art teacher and member of the Just A Card team.  I am an expat Canadian living in South East London with my husband and our 16 month-old daughter, Nora.  I’ve recently launched a new print project called ‘Plant Prints for Peace’, which will (hopefully) be raising lots of funds for Peace Direct.

What does a typical day involve?

I teach art to primary school children in Hackney four days a week, so a typical day involves breakfast with Nora and then a lengthy commute, during which I listen to podcasts and try to catch up on my social media (including #justacard tweets). School is usually a whirlwind of creative chaos – we use all sorts of different materials and I love introducing the kids to new methods and artists.  After school I head home, reply to emails from clients, make dinner and get on with commissions, drawing and packing up any orders that need to be sent.  Most of my screen printing is done at the weekend, but I also make some linocut prints in my home studio.

Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?

I am lucky to have a home studio and also to be a member of Sonsoles Print Studio in Peckham.  Drawing, client work and containable messy projects are done in my home studio and the screen printing is all done at Sonsoles.  Both are places that make me feel extraordinarily lucky and content.  They are my happy places! Full of beautiful artwork by people I admire. I try to keep my home studio tidy but do not always succeed, particularly if I am preparing for a market or an exhibition.

When I’m not working, I am spending as many minutes as possible in a multitude of parks with our bouncy toddler! I also love going to exhibitions, seeing friends and cooking.

What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?

At the moment I certainly find 24 hour days too short!  I think designer makers have soooo many things to cram into their days – particularly if they have other jobs – that it can be overwhelming trying to stay on top of everything.  I think the immediacy of communication technology can make one feel a bit frantic.  I try to turn everything off for at least 30 minutes before bed to give my brain a chance to unwind, and to allow space for creativity to sneak back in. 

I have also noticed a trend towards big brands imitating work by designer makers which I think can lure customers away from smaller businesses.  It’s why I feel the Just a Card message is so important – small businesses depend on people seeking them out and supporting them.

What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?

I am super excited to have launched the first Plant Prints for Peace collection and am working hard to make sure it takes off. 10% of all sales will go to Peace Direct who are an amazing charity.  I plan to draw, print and launch a second collection ready for Christmas.  I am also aiming to have the plant prints stocked in a few independent shops and galleries.  They will be up at the Paxton Centre in Crystal Palace for the whole of June so that’s a start!  A few more client commissions are in the pipeline too so I’m definitely going to be busy.

Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out? 

You can do it! There will be ups and downs for sure but if you love what you do, other people will love it too.  In terms of more practical advice, keep on top of those finances! Cost the things that you make so that you know how much to charge for them and look over your finances every month so that you’re organized for the tax man – it’s not sexy but it makes it a whole lot easier when January comes! I mean, ahem, of course I do my taxes before January.

Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.

Studio 73 in Brixton has a diverse and wonderful collection of prints and cards and a chat with darling owner, Adrian, is never ever dull!

Brixi, also in Brixton, is run by the AMAZING Emy and has a collection of ceramics, jewelry, art and vintage delights that I lust over.

Diverse, Brixton again, has a wonderful selection of cards, art and gifts and owner, Anita, works tirelessly to support local designer makers.

Alexandra Nurseries, in glamourous Penge, has the best coffee in SE20, plants galore and an adorable gift shop.

Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?  

I had realized, as I got on board with team JAC when Sarah put a call out on Twitter.  I was in the early days of motherhood and spending a lot of late night feeding time on the interwebs so I thought maybe I could help.  I read the website through and through and fell in love with the message.

How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?

The Just A Card message is about supporting great things and determined, creative people.  It is massively important and representative of the kind of world I want to live in – where people think about others and about how their choices affect and impact the wider world.  Everything we do has consequences and we are all responsible for thinking about our choices.  Maybe that’s getting a little deep, but I genuinely feel that if we all start thinking more consciouslyabout little things, the big things will fall into place.

Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?

I heard about the campaign through Twitter but I use Instagram most often (and have a new Instagram account for Plant Prints for Peace here).  I was super stoked to participate in the first Just A Card hour the other week – it was fun to chat with people from all over the country about what they do, and it felt immensely positive, so I’m definitely going to try and keep up with those and I would recommend them to others – especially if you need a boost. 

I love being a part of the JAC team, and there are some exciting ideas floating around at the moment so I’m sure there will be lots more to do.  I also always bring flyers to markets and talk to people about the campaign as much as possible, which is an easy way to engage customers and spread the word!

You can join in with #JustACard hour on Twitter every Thursday evening fom 8-9pm!