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A picture of Alice Lee

Alice Lee

Illustrator, painter

in artist, illustrator, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Alice, and I'm an illustrator and painter. I basically spend 8-10 hours a day drawing and painting right now, working on personal projects in animation.

I most recently worked at Dropbox where I did product and branding for Carousel, Mailbox, and the core product. I've also freelanced for various companies, from Sequoia Capital to startups like Venmo and Pinterest. I basically left my cushy tech job to spend my days drawing, painting, and developing as an artist. Before I came to SF I was a business student at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, so you could say that giving myself permission to be fully immersed in art every day has been a long time coming after spending several years in the world of academia and things like finance and econ. Woo.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 15" MacBook Pro. I do everything related to art digitally on my Wacom Cintiq 22HD, which also serves as a second monitor to my laptop. I use the Cintiq 13HD tablet while on the go (can't beat sketching in coffee shops), and also previously used a Intuos Pro tablet, but I much prefer the Cintiqs as you can see what you're drawing directly beneath your pen (vs. drawing on the tablet while looking at your computer screen).

When it comes to sketching, nothing beats a nice set of tiny Micron pens and regular paper to sketch in, paired with markers and colored pencils! I also can't resist a nice chalkboard or big empty drawing surface (see dream set up).

And what software?

Art: I use Photoshop for everything these days. It's great because when I was younger, I used to be very intimidated by traditional media and the overhead that comes with it (ie. materials like papers, pens, brushes, inks, paints, as well as the sheer amount of expertise that comes with each), but Photoshop is great for easing into learning about each medium, without the added baggage of having to invest in all that stuff when you're just a beginner or self-taught. Photoshop paired with a giant Cintiq drawing surface and simple pen means that I can learn about and imitate anything traditional media, whether that's watercolor, oil, pastel, ink, you name it! I use some great brushes by Shiyoon Kim and Kyle Webster, as well as some of the Photoshop defaults with slight modifications.

I also (of course) use Dropbox to back everything up, and to share work with clients + collaborators. I also use Illustrator a lot, whether when working in vector line art or laying out sequences of pages for print.

Everything else: I use Textmate to write code, Day One on my phone to take notes, and recently I discovered Siteleaf, a very customizable and lightweight CMS that I use for my portfolio site. I also try to post something about this new art journey that I'm on to my Tumblr everyday.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream set up is slightly unrealistic, but perhaps I'll realize it someday (this would be my dream-dream set up, not like a potentially-in-the-near-future-ish set up). Basically, I'd want an art store like Flax to provide an endless amount of art supplies. I'd have an entire wall serve as a chalkboard, another wall covered in blank canvases for painting, and a third covered in paper for sketching or pinning inspiration up on. The fourth would be a window. I'd also have my Cintiq and computers as is, and a gigantic plotter to print my art out on. There might be something in the corner like a hammock in the corner where I could take quick naps as well. That's important. :)