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S2EP73. Altering spaces & engaging communities through fine art murals w/ Ali Williams, Artist and Public Muralist


P hiladelphia, Pennsylvania | @alimwilliams. Ali M Williams is a Philadelphia based artist and public muralist. She is interested in how visually altering a space with public art affects the surrounding environment. Ali has been a visiting teaching artist at Lycée Rochambeau, The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, Moore College of Art, Project Learn School, The Hillside School, and Riverside Correctional Facility.

She has worked with numerous education and community outreach programs such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Twist Out Cancer, Morris Home, The Mural Arts Program, and many more. Some of her clients include Zappos, Primark, Nasdaq, Marriott Hotels, The Wells Fargo Center, and Blick Art Materials.

Her murals invite you inside a collaged, fabricated dreamscape of paint, mysterious beauty, and contemporary iconography. She’s interested in combining realism with abstract concepts and design to create a surreal experience. Symbolic elements, graphic imagery, and vibrant bursts of color are frequent components of her work. She’s drawn to bold, feminine color palettes, and loves to incorporate neon pink as much as possible!

www.alimwilliams.com | @alimwilliams | Artist and Public Muralist

Charuka Arora, Founder of Arts To Hearts Project

https://www.instagram.com/charukaarora/

www.charukaarora.com

Arts To Hearts Project

https://artstoheartsproject.com/

www.instagram.com/artstoheartsproject/

AUTOMATED SCRIPTS

00:00.00
charukaarora
Hey, you guys welcome back to the arts two huts podcast this is season 2 and I’m your host charga I’m back with another guest. A lovely friend 1 of my favorite favorite dog mothers 5 moms fellow dog lover amazing artist and just just such. Such such an amazing wonderful kind woman artist woman I’m so so glad to have her here today. Let me introduce you to Aie Williams from Philadelphia welcome to the part welcome to the podcast Allie.

00:32.99
Ali
Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

00:35.74
charukaarora
Thank you so much for coming okay Allie I have been I have been admiring all of your work I know your aural lot is there’s so much other things that you do the design and like and the star of your life duula which I am obsessed with by now you know that.

00:54.36
Ali
Ah.

00:55.70
charukaarora
So of course I want to go into all of that. But for anyone who’s listening and joining us right now. Can you just talk a little bit about yourself who you are where you come from what you do.

01:04.76
Ali
Yeah, um, I’m Allie Williams I’m a fine art public muralist. Ah based in Philadelphia Pennsylvania um, and I say fine art public murallist because um I don’t necessarily do like signage or. Um, you know I I try to really have a ah strong vision and um, artistic like feel behind my murals. Yeah.

01:31.25
charukaarora
Yeah, you do big big giant toullas on walls. Yeah I know that’s my favorite work like absolute I was just.

01:39.82
Ali
I did I did paint a giant mirror. But.

01:47.79
charukaarora
I was just so mesmerized by it. So anyone who’s listening to La is who can you do you? Let’s also introduce tula into this conversation because I know that’s going to come up a lot who is tula.

01:58.24
Ali
Um, tula is my the love of my life. She she is a she’s almost three. She’s a sweet baby great Dane. Um, and yeah, she’s just.

02:14.52
charukaarora
Ah, she so ador will se Tula’s um one of my so Allie and my chats are mostly about us exchanging dog hearts about dogs and what’s to her doing what my dogs are doing and like we keep like I think this is.

02:16.12
Ali
Everything She’s just so special.

02:26.24
Ali
Dogs are.

02:34.33
charukaarora
And these are kind of my favorite chats like I know I Also do that with cat and like you know every time how I ask you so many times how how is tula doing and I would ask cat all the house houseliy doing and like these are my like I truly truly love these chats and I and believe me I Really think about them I don’t know. What what is up with me but I so much think about them.

02:56.31
Ali
Hey you are my people you I mean yeah I I’m definitely with you on that.

03:03.53
charukaarora
Amazing. Okay, so to lie your dog. Let’s get back into who you are so you ah um, Tula’s mother you a muralla fine artist.

03:07.59
Ali
Um, in.

03:17.31
Ali
E.

03:18.98
charukaarora
Um, can you talk a little bit about what you do and where you paste.

03:22.45
Ali
Yeah, um, based out of Philadelphia um, but I also travel for work. So the the nature of my work allows me to kind of travel all over with my murals and i’m.

03:34.36
charukaarora
No.

03:40.26
Ali
I Do murals for schools nonprofits. Um small corporations small businesses Large corporations. Um, yeah, it’s ah it’s a mix and wide range of clients and ah yeah, but it’s.. It’s such a fun job and every project is really different so that really keeps it exciting.

04:01.90
charukaarora
Yeah, amazing. You know, Um, when you mentioned of clients I was just going to your client list and it’s like you’ve had a sum of the mog. Quite popular ones like you know play art Materials. You did this huge mural that a lot of hard queens like you know visit I wish I’m going to do that this year. Hopefully so um, you’ve done married and I was also when I was going through the projects that you’ve done What I really laughed about was you know. How you’ve been also involved so much in projects with social causes like you know you’ve been doing for Underprivileged. You’ve been doing for animal trust hospitality like hospitals and I Really love that part of your work. Um.

04:42.44
Ali
In.

04:53.14
Ali
Yep.

04:57.63
charukaarora
What what is up with that I mean is there something that you would keep an intentional that you have an intent about it or they’ve just they just happened.

05:04.95
Ali
Yeah, um, well you know what a lot of that is I think because I live in Philadelphia and um Philadelphia you know the city kind of is. Deemed or calls themselves like the mural capital of the world just because there’s so many murals and a lot of it is community-based projects with the idea that art um is really healing and transformative and it makes such an effort or you know such a drastic change in communities.

05:22.33
charukaarora
Ah, yeah.

05:41.39
Ali
Um, so those are the projects that are really special to me when I can work with people and there are all different types of communities that I’ve worked with you know you mentioned hospitals I’m I’m actually working with the children’s hospital of Philadelphia right now. Um I won’t be working directly with. Kids but I have worked in hospitals before where I’m working with children. Um I’ve worked at sobriety outpatient centers prisons. So um, yeah, all different types of people clients.

06:03.54
charukaarora
Wow! yeah.

06:20.36
Ali
Ah, people from all different. Um you know ranges of ability and skill level and age it’s it’s art is something that I think is accessible um to to everyone or creativity is you know it’s.

06:36.21
charukaarora
Madam.

06:39.96
Ali
It’s really healing and ah, that’s what makes it so special and not that the projects that I’m working on with like Nasdaq or something isn’t special to me but they’re they’re just so there. It’s a different kind of project. It feels really good.

06:49.56
charukaarora
yeah yeah I think just frame I think just the feeling that the way art can impact and your work impacts someone you know like in a 1 on 1 basis and and um, like where you can actually see and relate to.

06:58.18
Ali
Yeah.

07:07.89
Ali
Um, yeah.

07:09.28
charukaarora
I Think that feeling is also just just so satisfying. Okay, so tell me about um, your background and then we’ll get into how you caught into murals because I’m I’m I’m curious. How um.

07:21.63
Ali
Okay.

07:26.88
charukaarora
Being a full time mural artist feels like I know I have always been like I can’t wait to visit all of you and be like in Philly and like I just see because you know this? Um, this vibrancy of an art scene which is I feel is too grounded and just so beautiful. Um.

07:33.83
Ali
Um.

07:45.67
charukaarora
First let’s talk about your education and how art school and what what you were doing there and how that led you to being a mural artist because there’s not one of the like honestly I haven’t really seen I have seen artists doing murals but very few like. Very few who are dedicatedly like neural artist because it I’m sure it must be yeah because I’m sure it must be because you know like you like you said like Philly is like a like a world capital for murals and that does not happen I just think the demand and supply of the work. Probably.

08:08.68
Ali
Like mural focus I mean yeah.

08:22.67
Ali
And.

08:23.92
charukaarora
So I am I’m just so curious about the work that you do and how you came here.

08:27.20
Ali
Yeah, um, well I I went to more college of art. Um in Philadelphia it it. It’s in all women’s art college. It’s actually the I think maybe the only fill the only all women’s.

08:41.52
charukaarora
Okay.

08:47.10
Ali
Private art of College. Um, so I went there I I had no idea what I wanted to do I was like I’m going to go into fashion I was like I can’t imagine if I took a fashion route I mean I Definitely do not., But it’s like office but I am but um, you know I I thought maybe I’ll do illustration or graphic design I was really thinking How can I What should I pursue in school that I will make sure I can get a job and find success when.

09:23.81
charukaarora
Now.

09:24.56
Ali
I’m out of here and you know because that’s not really talked about when you are interested in pursuing art or becoming an artist. Um, and so that’s kind of where the idea of the struggling artist comes from all the time which is really unfair and not.

09:42.31
charukaarora
I’m slow. Absolutely.

09:43.39
Ali
True right? You know? Um, yeah so I I ended up um, studying mostly with painting and printmaking and I think it was my my second to last or my last year when I for some reason I had more credits than I needed I must have been I don’t know what I was doing super overachiever I guess but um, ah I decided I would sort of create my own internship at the time that wasn’t.

10:18.16
charukaarora
Oh Wow Quite visionary.

10:21.55
Ali
Yeah, at the time that well at at the time that wasn’t something that was required for a ah fine art or painting major so because I lived in Philadelphia and was going to school there. Um, you know I mentioned murals are huge. In Philadelphia and there’s also a program called the mural arts program. Um, and they offer an internship a summer internship so I applied I got the internship and I was able to you know use that as you know some credits for my school and. I really just was so inspired I fell in love with the idea of working on such a large scale and working with people and feeling like you know you were in a community making a difference your work. Is suddenly able to be seen by everyone and all of these people who you’re working with actively participated in that process with you. So there’s such a deep sense of connection and involvement and that felt really impactful to me. Um, versus you know. Going to art school and having professors that were really only preaching having ah a gallery exhibition scene. Um, which is which felt limiting to me at the time and I also was seeing how people were able to make a living. Um.

11:42.68
charukaarora
Yeah.

11:53.90
charukaarora
Living.

11:57.22
Ali
So that was appealing to me. So after that internship I loved it so much that I continued working with the mural arts program and I was assisting. Yeah I was assisting Muralists on projects and I just remember my professors sort of.

12:04.25
charukaarora
Ah.

12:16.80
Ali
Turning their noses up at me and acting like this isn’t real art. You know? Um, yeah, so yeah, so I’ve I really struggled with that. Yeah.

12:20.10
charukaarora
Oh my goodness. Yes, we have to get on this. He has okay 1 quick question on quick were you at that point were you painting like in scale were you painting large or something because.

12:36.23
Ali
Um, yeah, yeah, um I wasn’t painting huge but when I started working um at that internship I my work kind of changed I started.

12:37.80
charukaarora
Murals are also really overwhelming like in terms of scale.

12:52.48
Ali
Painting really large I started painting differently I started using Acrylic instead of oil which is something in traditional art schools. They’re like what is this this is junk which is not but.

13:02.77
charukaarora
Oh my good. How did you deal with all of that I’m sure um, because it’s so hard because those steotypes like oh um, I know even that a lot of voices when I entered into the art like oh if you’re not doing like if you’re not I still remember someone telling me, you know what. Um, digital artists are not artists and like you know, fine artists only when you’re doing exhibitions and like such bullshit honestly that you know artists like who you I let me tell you for a long for the longest while even today I know a few people.

13:29.10
Ali
Here.

13:41.10
charukaarora
Who would just call me like a designer because I didn’t come from an art school. Yeah yeah, and like you know I It’s not artist or like this is not this is Illustrat This is not art and it just blew me off I mean I was like I and.

13:41.80
Ali
Stop.

13:59.67
charukaarora
I didn’t come from Nats School Thank God Thank God because I think once those voices get into your head no matter how much forward you go I mean you know that that even I think it just keeps fluctuating in in sound like in volume but they’re there I’m sure.

14:05.85
Ali
In here.

14:16.81
Ali
Yeah.

14:18.67
charukaarora
You taking this path from a traditional art school where your professors and so many voices were already been like were there How how how did you deal with that.

14:28.97
Ali
Um, it was it was tough I mean um yeah, and they were they were professors that I really admired and looked up to and you know you’re trusting them because they’re they’re real artist right? and they’re.

14:35.32
charukaarora
The.

14:42.47
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

14:48.27
Ali
And they’re working artists and they’re successful in showing their work and so you want to follow in their footsteps and trust their guidance and so when they’re telling you um the opposite. Yeah that it was it was tough and I remember even.

14:55.28
charukaarora
Yeah.

15:07.69
Ali
Yeah I So I still think I probably have that I’m not a real artist voice in my head sometimes.

15:11.63
charukaarora
Oh wow, you know what? we all I feel like somewhere in the hearts of hearts. We all have that like I think this whole concept is just soul and you know I’ve been I’ve just been seeing this a lot on the podcast everywhere I do and like um.

15:19.50
Ali
Yeah.

15:29.84
charukaarora
I just don’t I mean I feel like yeah and it’s completely my own perception on how I take and you know I feel like now I call myself a creator and even to my own self let anything else because with all these definitions that been drawn by us for so many years I feel like. For my own sanity and for my like so I didn’t want to put my cells in a box and I I I call myself as a creator or a creative because for me creating is on the top of the funnel more than anything else. I mean today I want to create it in one form tomorrow I want to create create in another form. It does not have anything to do with. If I’m an artist or not artist is a creator like we’re all creators and today whatever you’re creating if you’re creating like ah even if you create illustration even if you create fine arts if you paint if you make a painting or you paint a wall. It’s your thoughts. It’s your creativity that at the end of that or you creating a business up. For me, my podcast is my piece of art I just shared this on my Instagram stories today and it’s just so limiting.

16:26.65
Ali
And.

16:32.87
Ali
Um, yeah I was going to say it’s that really removes the label and removes the limitations and really opens the door for a wider range of opportunities. Yeah.

16:42.80
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah, okay so like tell me about you grew up in Philly right? and I’m sure by that time. Did you have like a lot while you were growing up. Did you see a lot of murals around you.

16:52.43
Ali
Yeah, yeah.

17:01.70
charukaarora
At that point did you like did it ever come to your mind that this is where you would head or your interest was there.

17:06.83
Ali
No I so I’m I’m Philly local but I grew up in sort of ah a rural area. Um I guess close to an hour from Philadelphia and I didn’t go into the city a lot.

17:23.92
charukaarora
As my.

17:26.31
Ali
Growing up if I it was probably for like school field trips or something and I don’t as a I don’t know if I paid attention to the murals then I was really interested in art. Um, it probably wasn’t until I was in.

17:29.27
charukaarora
Okay.

17:44.66
Ali
Art school that I started paying attention to public art and you know just finding a greater appreciation for murals and and and art in public spaces.

17:55.00
charukaarora
Oh okay, did you also have like like being like creativity while you were growing up. Did you have an influence that you could look up to or how were you and like both the questions how you were as a treat like as a child. Growing up. Did you like were you always like a creative child or that just evolved.

18:19.41
Ali
Ah, um I was super shy and timid and probably awkward and quirky which I think is pretty standard. A lot of creative. Um, but yeah.

18:34.35
charukaarora
Um.

18:39.41
Ali
I was I was always really interested in Art. So I Just remember loving art class and um, doing you know recognizing that art felt really good to me versus like other. Subjects in school where maybe I struggled and I did take art classes outside of school. Um, and yeah I think you know what it it might have honestly been I Remember my my grandmother My Nanny. Um. Always telling me, you’re gonna be an artist or she’s the art and so maybe that just sort of became like ingrained. You know in my personality my persona and so I I just kind of went with it and I didn’t I I Just remember being in high school and not really knowing what else I would do.

19:17.52
charukaarora
Hello. Yeah.

19:36.50
Ali
Not having like other something else that was really pulling me I was just I just knew this is what I wanted to do I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. But I knew I wanted to pursue art at some capacity.

19:39.10
charukaarora
Yeah.

19:45.37
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah, and like did you have any rule model at that time just your influence. So like anyone who’s creative in your own family that kind of you know.

20:00.46
Ali
Um, my dad’s a yeah, my my dad’s a chef um I can’t I can’t I can’t cook for shit. But yeah, super creative. Um, and.

20:02.42
charukaarora
Set the ball ruling for you. Oh wow that idea the creative scared. Yeah.

20:18.45
Ali
Both my sister and you know ever I Think my family is like really musical and we’ve always yeah, we’ve always loved the theater and um so I I think we were just.

20:22.64
charukaarora
Oh wow.

20:34.27
Ali
You know I was brought up in a family that really nurtured creativity and um so that probably allowed me to feel ah accepted and and that art was something I can make a reality in my life.

20:51.75
charukaarora
Oh Wow Okay, let’s go just circle back to a conversation which was about art school and you venturing into the arts in the mural section. Um, can you talk a little bit about what happened when you actually.

20:58.56
Ali
A.

21:10.11
charukaarora
Graduated and then how how have you come this far because you have like you do a lot of work. You’ve done a lot of murals gorgeous ones and I just I am I’m sure it must have not been easy to kick off as a mural artist in itself kicking off as um. As an artist is difficult. Um, it’s not 1 of the most common jobs and I’m sure I just want to hear your journey about paving your parts till here.

21:40.00
Ali
Um, So actually when I graduated I I was dating someone and they were still in college and so I did the worst thing I could have done I left the city. And I moved with them. Um, and I started working at a photography studio I had no I don’t know what I was thinking I I’m not a photographer I had no experience with Cameras. Um, but I I started working there. Just because I thought it was something creative and I was like I am going to continue to get my portfolio together and I’m going to think about applying to grad school that was my plan because I think I was essentially buying Time. So I thought I’ll go to grad school and then I’ll figure out what to do right. Um I was so depressed and so I ended up. Yeah I was so Depressed. Um I ended up applying to grad school having interviews not going to grad school and then moved.

22:41.28
charukaarora
Really that.

22:52.12
charukaarora
Oh.

22:56.31
Ali
Yeah I moved back to Philadelphia um, and I worked as a designer for an apparel company also had no graphic design like yeah yeah, um, it was like a sporting apparel company. So a lot of logo stuff.

23:02.94
charukaarora
Was it like a like a fat graph does I know. Okay.

23:13.40
Ali
I basically had to teach myself how to use Photoshop and illustrator which was give yes and so and that’s what I used to create murals. So I really taught myself I mean it all. It worked out and um, yeah, but again I felt like this isn’t what I want to do so.

23:16.43
charukaarora
What are the most valuable skills.

23:26.16
charukaarora
Just you know.

23:33.40
Ali
I Contacted the artist that I was interning with and I asked you know are there Any opportunities. Do you need assistance for anything. Um he was like yeah so he he brought me on board and then I just started assisting with him regularly. Um, Until. I decided I wanted to create murals on my own and then here we are.

23:54.93
charukaarora
About amazing. You know a lot of times when we see someone doing the amazing work. We always see you know, um and again with Instagram everything looks crammed, glamorous, perfect beautiful. Which is which is not true I mean no matter how how good our lives look online. There’s there’s always something that’s happening that and it’s okay I mean we all we don’t always have to share something negative or sad or something but just I think just the whole portrayal a lot of times we clamorize. But. Um, things in our heads because that’s what we’re seeing I just wanted to see behind because you know, um and I’m asking this question especially from a personal point of view. Let’s say um I just before we recorded this call so I am in a position right now where you know. I’m traveling between cities you know half of a week I’m here half of a week I’m you know in the mid in the big city then I’m in a small city. My studio is here a lot my office work like you know the people I work with and for arts, 2 hearts and everything. And I I’m someone and I’m I’m sure most artists are like we love our cocoons like we love the safety of our homes our studios. So I love small towns I absolutely love them I just feel like as an artist in the last two years the amount of sanity I have found in myself in a smaller town is just. Amazing. Your job includes a lot more traveling a lot more being outside and I’ve I’ve done 2 murals so far. Ah, they are hectic physically exhausting needs so much of planning and like just. A lot overwhelming than anything else and also I feel yeah, they’re technically also like you need um to have more um like I just I can still play a lot with smaller canvases. A big painting also but with murals and especially commissioned work. You have to be way more. Planned and all of that. Let’s talk about um, let’s talk about these things that goes behind into the pretty pictures and paintings that you make the hard work. It takes the struggles that come in. Yes, all the stress because I think we don’t ah, we will definitely talk about the bright and beautiful that we always see.

26:17.46
Ali
You need all this stress.

26:28.96
charukaarora
But let’s talk about the the hours you put in. Do you know the things that you go through when you’re when you produce a beautiful miss like that or an idea that comes you my.

26:30.42
Ali
And.

26:36.79
Ali
Yeah, yeah, um. There is a yeah, there’s a lot that goes on behind the the scenes and the things that you see um well I mean first of all with murals with the murals that I do I’m I’m working with clients and so.

26:59.50
charukaarora
Yeah.

27:02.71
Ali
You have to work on building a good relationship with your client. You have to like working with each other. Um, so that requires a lot of patience sometimes and good communication skills. Yeah, ah.

27:15.11
charukaarora
Oh goodness a lot of artists actually think this like are freakd out by this commissions Really really get on a lot of people’s nerve because you know we want to do a things our way and then you know you have to apply it and which is which is what a part of.

27:20.73
Ali
Um, in here.

27:33.53
charukaarora
Process of a commission is.

27:34.80
Ali
Yeah I mean hey I’m I am essentially a commission based artist because I’m that’s that’s yeah, my income is from clients and murals are commissioned pieces of work. So.

27:40.34
charukaarora
Yeah.

27:48.35
charukaarora
Got yeah.

27:51.87
Ali
Yeah, for the for the most part when you’re working with a client. They probably have something specific. They’re looking for Sometimes they’ll let you have free range. It’s very rare that happens. It’s it’s um, it’s amazing when they trust you and and you know. Longer you do murals and I I have repeat clients too and so they become familiar with your work and so you know that they’re hiring you because of your style and because they like your work and that’s a great feeling Sometimes people.

28:15.20
charukaarora
Like yeah. Like yeah.

28:29.30
Ali
Want something you know, really specific that you’re not interested in and it’s your decision to either be like okay I could I could do this job I need the money right? I’ll I’ll do it I can compromise or make the decision to pass it up. Um.

28:35.71
charukaarora
Do yeah.

28:43.39
charukaarora
Yeah.

28:46.92
Ali
And I I really I try to stick with projects that speak to me and I feel are creative and challenging in a positive way things that light me up and feel exciting. Um, but it’s also a job So sometimes you just take what right.

28:56.57
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have to absolutely and I think yeah you said such an important point because you know we all come into this a lot of people who enter into the Arts young artist.

29:06.69
Ali
Um.

29:15.47
charukaarora
A lot of us also are so many times like we have this picture perfect that this is going to happen for us. But you know you give some you take some you do projects you deem too glee to your dream projects. You need to keep going. You need to um, keep finding finetunning your skills.

29:25.60
Ali
Here.

29:32.75
charukaarora
Keep paying your pills keep growing and you know have even also have financial safety so that you can keep experimenting more and those clients will also come if you’re intentional about it because there’s nothing wrong with doing something because you know you can do it. It may not light you up as much something else.

29:46.12
Ali
Great.

29:51.54
charukaarora
But you still going to give you a hundred percent yeah

29:52.19
Ali
Yeah, yeah, definitely? um and then you know going along with clients. You’re working on a design with them so there can be a lot of back and forth. Sometimes you might present a design that you feel really strongly about and you love and they might hate it or they might have have that’s happened or they might have um restrictions or very specific. You know limitations to. You know, maybe they have like branding Colors. You need to incorporate and and so you have to find that balance where you can speak your client’s language but you can also honor your vision and like what makes you feel good. Yeah um, and then after that like you said it’s a lot of.

30:27.96
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah.

30:37.47
charukaarora
Incorporate yards now.

30:44.77
Ali
Strategic planning math is not a strong skill of mine. But I found that I feel like I have to be a math wizard all the time. Um, yeah, it’s ah it’s a lot of and and every project is different. So.

30:48.61
charukaarora
Um. I.

31:01.83
Ali
There’s always problem solving and things that go wrong? Um, yeah, it’s it can. It can be really stressful ah deadlines happen fast. It can be seasonal type work so you have a million projects at once and you feel like.

31:17.80
charukaarora
And then yeah.

31:20.56
Ali
You can’t even come up for air. Yeah, that’s that’s what happened to me from this summer into the holidays I was so busy. Um I mean I was working like 1250 yeah Yeah it it. was good busy but i.

31:26.32
charukaarora
No, um, yeah, the good big thing.

31:37.20
charukaarora
Like a south. Yeah.

31:38.75
Ali
Don’t know how I did it I mean I was I was working consistent like 12 to 15 hour days and yeah I took a month off because I was just so wiped. Yeah yeah.

31:46.85
charukaarora
You definitely like thisser that you know I think and you know that’s another thing about being an artist or creator or like in these creative industries I feel like they work so differently than. Other profiles. Um I remember I was very young I was still in college and I had this so in fashion I was I was doing fashion so India has this Amazon Fashion week which is like you know the the top fashion week in India and. I was with this I was interning with this crew who was you know who were create like who were interview interviewing like they have a Netflix show today and just that I’m so proud of um but they were create covering creative indians and you know things like that happened. And I remember like a team these were 3 creative entrepreneurs like they were. They were basically stage choreographers so they were choreographing fashion shows and thematically like putting chos together having like the fine arts the music and then you know the whole.

32:51.32
Ali
The.

33:04.23
charukaarora
Like whole conceptualizing and execution and I was like I was taking that interview with them I was assisting them in that interview I luckily I got to be a part of an interview and I remember them one of the um creator sharing like you know. The work is seasoned like this work six months and they work like then they don’t work for six months at all and at that point it felt so unusual to me because I I was not really exposed to a lot of like creative profiles and you know this and.

33:26.66
Ali
E.

33:40.20
charukaarora
What we know are just so cliche and so many things people don’t talk about but even in my own career now I notice that there are seasons like we a lot of creative projects and there is a season for something and there’s a season for something and that’s how we work I mean. That’s how it’s not a 9 to 5 regular job that you have to get up every morning and go and it’s such an uncomfortable fact I know I have caught myself so many times even when I’m you know if I have a lot of work I will be overexhated and like you know all of that and I’m great and happy. But the the moment there’s things.

34:00.45
Ali
Who.

34:19.23
charukaarora
Ah, quiet I want that rest but I think this whole external validation point like you know I don’t I’m not doing something am I not doing enough or like you know what? if people forget about me or what if what is something’s not going to come up like you know.

34:27.54
Ali
Who.

34:35.17
Ali
Um, yeah, productivity guilt. Um, yeah I know what were you going to say Oh no I mean I I definitely relate to that. Um.

34:38.10
charukaarora
Absolutely to how is yeah say Gwen no no, just continue what you had? yeah.

34:52.78
Ali
And on that same note you know you’re talking about seasonal work and having sort of yeah a season for everything. Ah I know because of the history of my work I’ve been doing this a while that. There are periods that I will be really busy, followed by dead silence followed by you know things will start to pick up and it’s that is the flow that I have found every year consistently. But when once I’m finished those.

35:13.62
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah.

35:28.34
Ali
Intense busy periods and it goes dead silent I always start to freak out a little and I I Yeah yeah, it’s it’s like oh my God am I going to have work at what’s.

35:35.34
charukaarora
Um I love hearing not that I love it. But I love your honesty about it.

35:48.80
Ali
What’s the next job and then I don’t feel that’s the time when I should be resting or travel you know, but I feel sometimes you feel like guilty for doing that. Even though it’s like I earned this because you’re you’re.

35:51.22
charukaarora
Yeah.

36:00.72
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah, you know.

36:05.72
Ali
You’re working for yourself. You’re an entrepreneur and there is that hustle mentality that you’re you know you’re not a regular salary and and like you said wanting to stay I think you said something about staying relevant and like sharing your work and stuff. So um. Yeah, there is a lot of that stress also but I think I’m I mean I mentioned I took off the month of January so I think I’m trying to lean into those slow periods a little more and really accept and embrace the flow and just trust that.

36:28.17
charukaarora
But.

36:44.83
Ali
Work will come and I’m you know I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and building my career and you know it’ll all work out, but it’s a process and.

36:55.14
charukaarora
Amazing I Love Absolutely Absolutely I think we all. It’s just of course because when you have enough experience of in terms of yours you recognize patterns and then you just I think you just your logic. Supports your you know fears who like this this whole anxious and I think also the entire part is I think what really also plays a role is that I don’t know what what your immediate environment is but um. You know my immediate in mind a lot of time either I’m in the studio or I’m I’m working I can work from any location for that matter because a lot of my work. My podcast art sohas Everything is digital. The people I work with I don’t have to meet them regularly and.

37:37.25
Ali
M.

37:50.46
charukaarora
My way of working is just so different that at some point when I see things around me and I feel like even though I’m working as hard like I don’t even know if it’s about working as hard but just working differently I just have to tell myself again and again that you know this is the chart. Choice I made this is what I love this is who I am and just you know just because my things don’t look like a regular 9 to 5 business job or whatever it doesn’t like you know there’s I don’t know there’s something. There’s something that makes you feel. Sometimes it makes me question I don’t know what you can’t really pinpoint what that is yeah probably.

38:30.29
Ali
Like feel inadequate I I we’ve been so conditioned. Yeah, we’ve been so conditioned to think that that is the standard the norm the conventional right? This 9 to 5 Um, but yeah and every everyone.

38:41.50
charukaarora
Yeah.

38:50.10
Ali
Works differently every I mean yeah I think you have to learn acceptance and just feel really so sometimes if I’m fighting that I’m like oh you know what? I’m going to remember to be grateful I’m really grateful that.

39:07.42
charukaarora
Yeah, that yes.

39:09.38
Ali
I’m not working for them. Why I’m I’m working for myself and I’m I’m able to make art and make a living off of making you know? Um, so yeah that that.

39:14.41
charukaarora
Yes, yes, absolutely let’s talk about um you know the subject that I shed like the cocoon The studio I know a lot of your murles. Do you want to? Also talk about how you your process is. And I know um a lot of your Murals. You also make in your own studio. Um, but also let’s talk about things that you you know the physical the 2 and one how does that affect your work.

39:45.77
Ali
Um, so actually yeah, my my neural process is really different. So if you’re not familiar with my Instagram because Instagram essentially is like my behind the scenes so you can see how things are made. Um.

39:59.57
charukaarora
Yes.

40:05.67
Ali
So when you think about murals you imagine someone just being outside. You know wherever you’re outside inside um, painting directly on the wall. Um I actually work indoors ah on a material called parachute cloth which.

40:14.86
charukaarora
Yeah.

40:25.56
Ali
It’s not parachute. It’s it’s um I don’t know why they call it that it’s um, it’s It’s kind of like a polyester synthetic material. It’s it’s it’s similar to like really thin canvas I guess.

40:42.79
charukaarora
Oh wow.

40:44.82
Ali
Um, super lightweight and what you do is you prime it and then it kind of has the texture of like a flexible paper. So I yeah so I work on my mural design and then I break it down and this is where this all the strategic planning.

40:54.45
charukaarora
Okay.

41:04.78
Ali
Comes into play because since I’m not working directly on the wall and creating. You know one large image I’m essentially working in sections so you kind of paint in small sections of um, the parachute cloth like I’ll break it up to five feet by five feet for example

41:07.58
charukaarora
Yeah.

41:24.11
Ali
And I’m painting sections of the neural that will later come together sort of like a puzzle. Um, and then yeah so I can work on a few sheets at a time in my studio and because I’m working on sheets. That’s why it’s great that I can you know.

41:29.70
charukaarora
Star right.

41:42.89
charukaarora
Yeah.

41:42.92
Ali
Travel with those sheets and I can get the community involved so people aren’t on scaffolding or ladders trying to paint a wall. It’s like you know I can bring that mural into a prison I can bring that mural into a school. You know I can have block parties and have people interact with the murals and have the.

41:53.29
charukaarora
Yeah.

42:00.64
Ali
Cloth set up on tables and people are able to to paint and interact. Um, so that’s where like you know it’s great to have that process for community engagement purposes and then once the mural is painted Um, it basically just goes up on the wall.

42:11.84
charukaarora
Absolutely.

42:19.55
Ali
Sort of like wallpaper but permanent. So it’s yeah, it’s yeah, it’s it is glue. It’s a heavy duty glue medium. Um, it’s It’s called Nova Gel or Golden makes.

42:20.78
charukaarora
So how do you stick that I mean like how does it go even go on the wall like do you clue it.

42:32.81
charukaarora
Oh.

42:39.27
Ali
1 Um, so either of those companies and you essentially glue it up on the wall and you squeegee out all the air bubbles and you match them up like a puzzle. Ah yeah, and it’s because it’s so thin. It’ll take on any shape or texture. So if.

42:47.70
charukaarora
Oh goodness.

42:59.26
Ali
If I put it on a brick wall. You can see the shape of the brick. So it looks like it was painted right on the brick. Yeah, or if it’s stucco and there’s little pieces of rough Stucco you’ll see the stucco So it’s It’s really amazing and um, it’s.

43:01.85
charukaarora
Oh wow.

43:17.88
Ali
I I love it because I have more control I can work anywhere with it I’m not you know I’m not stuck with oh it was too cold today or it was a wash. It was raining all day you know I can I can work anytime I can travel with it. Um.

43:22.30
charukaarora
Yeah.

43:36.83
Ali
I find I have better control because I can be in my controlled studio environment working and instead of you know, painting on a lift all day and having to like yell down to someone who’s like distracting me right? So I can really focus on what I’m doing.

43:37.82
charukaarora
Yeah.

43:53.58
charukaarora
And you get to have to love with you? Yeah, ah you oh they don’t They don’t go to the studio I Yeah the one So while I was living away.

43:56.78
Ali
And I get to have tula with me who is the greatest studio assistant of all time. Maybe the exception of your dogs. They don’t go to your studio though.

44:13.46
charukaarora
Pre pandemic 1 of my dogs like she basically she was she was living off the streets and then I adopted her. So for first two years she lived with me and she really didn’t care to be in my studio I mean I I had like a home studio and I was working with like a. Artist community studio space. So I would spend a lot more time because she was home so I would spend a lot more time in the studio but she was she wasn’t really concerned I got my other 2 for a photo shoot decently the studio and they made a mess like I love the pictures like they had those crowns and like all of that. But um, they they just such homebuddies that they don’t they don’t want to go anywhere and if they go mind my this youngest like ah youngest dog is just so naughty so naughty that it’s next to impossible to take her anywhere like so they’re homebogged.

44:57.19
Ali
Yeah.

45:08.86
Ali
Yeah.

45:10.62
charukaarora
And we have ample of space here so they get to like chase monkeys and like in India you know it’s it’s it’s like you get monkeys and then you can see like you know you can see cows on the street and like you know so they have like a part that they have other beings that keep entertaining them so they prefer that more than any studio. But I love.

45:24.28
Ali
So yeah.

45:30.44
charukaarora
I love Tula’s body most like she’s so good with yoga. Just.

45:33.68
Ali
She is. Um, although this morning I took a yoga class with my sister and um, my sister has a dog too and they were just wild the whole time and and I I think Tula she’s gotten used to me doing yoga when I’m by myself. Um. Sometimes she’ll try to do it or jump on me and you know she is my size or bigger than me so it it can be a lot but she does yeah she she’s.

46:00.14
charukaarora
Does she sleep with you say like you, you’ll have like a whole whole person like a whole person sleeping next to you.

46:10.30
Ali
So yeah I mean she has a million beds but she sleeps in my bed and.

46:20.18
charukaarora
That’s that’s the advantage of being tula. Oh Wow. Okay, my last question before we get into the rapid file. Why murals I Just I mean.

46:21.29
Ali
Yes.

46:36.22
charukaarora
I just feel like we all have this inner like something that really clicks and even though we can do a million more mediums and we keep experimenting and everything but I I’ve seen like we all come back to something that our heart truly false for it’s like this calling that we feel. What is that with murals for you if that is I’m sure I mean then was you may um, why murals I mean you could paint canvases or like all of that. Um, but 5 murals.

47:07.85
Ali
Um, yeah, you know what? um I think it’s I think it’s the accessibility in communities and I I have oh my gosh I. I Just moved and so I have so much of my work on canvas right now and it’s right now for me, It’s just hanging out here and in storage versus you know being seen and appreciated and feeling like.

47:41.29
charukaarora
Yeah.

47:44.75
Ali
You’re creating work that’s making a difference in a space. Um, yeah I I just I love that there is a lot of interaction and there can be you know conversations in public about your work or like what that work means.

47:46.46
charukaarora
Now.

48:03.95
Ali
To someone or the space and yeah I really do love working with the community and feeling like um, you’re making a difference or you know? Um, yeah I.

48:18.99
charukaarora
My love plan I missed 1 question I want to ask one more which is murals are also physically exhausting and it’s also more than a 1 person and sometimes like.

48:20.93
Ali
I Guess that is my answer. Oh yeah.

48:35.60
charukaarora
You may need more than 1 hand of your own. How do you manage that then like the whole installation and maybe if something you need to do live like um, how do you pull those people together for different projects.

48:36.98
Ali
Me.

48:50.11
Ali
Yeah, um, yeah, I’m always hiring people to work on projects with me, especially if it’s a small mural I can paint it myself and install it. But for the most part like I said I’m working on sheets that are around five feet by five feet and then I put them together. that’s that’s that’s big you know so and it’s um, yeah, it’s and you know you might be on ladder, you might be on a lift or scaffolding so you want to have an extra hand there. So I’ll I’ll always hire.

49:12.10
charukaarora
Yeah, that’s good.

49:28.65
Ali
Install assistance and it’s usually people that I trust and I you know you can’t really be afraid of heights If you’re going to be high. Um, yeah, um, but I I really like ah.

49:36.96
charukaarora
Um, yeah, that through me I would conclude assistant.

49:46.75
Ali
I Really like working with people that you know you just it’s It’s a really intimate experience working on art together and so you have to have good chemistry and it has to feel like ah, a good.

49:56.98
charukaarora
Yeah.

50:04.50
Ali
Vibe right? You have to like who you’re working with. So Even if someone is so skilled and talented if if they’re difficult to to talk to and I can’t feel comfortable around them where others don’t feel comfortable I mean it’s. Yeah, you have to really just find good people that you enjoy working with that. Keep things fun and because yeah you said it’s it can be exhausting and so you got to laugh and you have to um, like who you’re working with.

50:25.91
charukaarora
Love it now. Yeah amazing. Lovely I can’t believe it’s well been this long I I have so many more questions but I know.

50:41.31
Ali
Oh Wow yeah.

50:45.68
charukaarora
I Know um maybe we’ll have to do this another time again and I would love that but before I let you go I have to quickly get you in the rapid fire. So are you ready? Oh you’ll you’ll kill it. Let um, let’s.

50:59.75
Ali
I’m nervous. But yeah, but.

51:05.48
charukaarora
Let’s just do it. Okay here we go 1 thing you want to convey through your work in the arts.

51:14.20
Ali
1 thing I want to convey can you say that again.

51:17.21
charukaarora
1 thing you want to convey through your work in the arts. 1 thing you work convey.

51:24.49
Ali
Ah, this is not rapid fire um inspiration inspiration. Yeah, um.

51:26.63
charukaarora
And anything that there’s no right or wrong this just you okay, that’s that’s so on point so on point. Okay, what’s at 1 word that describes you the best.

51:44.54
Ali
This first word that comes to mine is awkward but ah.

51:54.81
charukaarora
But if you could have a studio anywhere in the world. Where would you be.

51:59.51
Ali
Um. Um, I’ll say Costa Rica

52:09.75
charukaarora
Um, oh Wow really.

52:13.40
Ali
Beach life.

52:17.64
charukaarora
Ah, Tula is running over the the page in the face and then your painting. Yeah, and then you’re painting sitting like you know across like a window and see seeing like her jumping around wow please call me I’ll I’ll get the curs.

52:19.86
Ali
Yeah, bouncing in the waves.

52:33.31
Ali
Um, this is.

52:37.24
charukaarora
We’ll have like a dog party and like a painting party and like all kinds of parties and your biggest source of inspiration.

52:41.65
Ali
All of parties.

52:53.46
Ali
Um, my friends.

52:57.21
charukaarora
Ah, lovely who’s your favorite woman artist from any point of time. How care who’s you go to person where when you are in trouble or in need of advice.

53:05.54
Ali
Jenny Seville

53:14.36
Ali
It’s my dad.

53:15.70
charukaarora
How I know you had a lovely trip with him so shower for him. Um, okay, this can be a little more than a rapid like 1 word. Can you describe like 1 moment I’m sure there must have been many but 1 moment that made you feel really grateful as an artist like.

53:19.20
Ali
Yes.

53:34.39
charukaarora
You know to be grateful for what you’re doing and the love for your work. I Like living a creative life.

53:40.88
Ali
Um, um, yeah, ah I was working In. Um I was I was working with women at um, a methadone clinic And. We were creating a mural and they were only supposed to come I think once a week for group but they started coming every day and yeah, we just had such a great.

54:07.77
charukaarora
Um, um.

54:15.89
Ali
Time and it was such a lovely bond and it it just felt so good. It made me love what I was doing and then after that I helped them create their own mural and I just felt so moved by that.

54:28.76
charukaarora
Oh wow, that’s all on. so so amazing okay what advice would you give to younger Allie today like.

54:35.44
Ali
Yeah.

54:43.75
Ali
Younger Allie um.

54:54.60
Ali
Trust yourself trust yourself. Trust yourself.

54:56.46
charukaarora
Yes, yes, that’s it amazing. Okay, shout out to an artist I should have done that earlier ah but shouted on May I’m going to do this next now.

55:03.99
Ali
Um, yeah, you need like a bell or a timer. Yeah.

55:14.70
charukaarora
And then I’ll have you back and then I’ll I’ll sort of kick I’m mean to keep ringing the bell but by the way in the edit in the edit we we actually add a timer so while when you will listen to this. Yeah, it sounds so fun and like you see the tick Tick Tick Tick tick it’s so fun.

55:22.83
Ali
Do you.

55:32.61
Ali
That’s awesome.

55:34.18
charukaarora
Okay, if you okay shout out to an artist who you are currently loving on social media.

55:39.79
Ali
Ah, there’s too many um ah too many I mean I’m I’m loving the work that cat is doing right now Catapova I mean yeah, you know and she brought us together right? so.

55:50.20
charukaarora
Absolutely. Yes, she has so many things to cut it go.

55:58.97
Ali
Um, my friend. Yeah my ah my friend Kate Ryan um she’s doing really fun work. Yeah, so many good people.

56:05.27
charukaarora
Okay, okay, okay, yes, this and I specifically love this question because like with social media.. There’s so much that we see every day and with. Pro and con everything which is the amount of work and the great like just these beautiful inspiring work and people that we Meet. It’s just I Just don’t want to let that go. Okay, my last question as a woman creative entrepreneur. What’s that one advice you will. Like to give for give to anyone who’s listening to this episode who’s going to who aspires to be where you are today.

56:49.65
Ali
Um, you know the same thing that I would have told my younger self to trust myself and you know it It can feel really difficult and you know you mentioned comparing yourself on social media and whatnot and. You You can use that to a degree to push yourself forward, but um, yeah, comparing yourself is really awful sometimes and just trusting your abilities. Um, try to try to boost up your confidence and just have faith. That you can do it and you you have to really you have to really push and want it and and work hard.

57:37.12
charukaarora
Oh wow! Love that amazing I this has gone so quickly so quickly. Oh my god Ali that I mean I’m so grateful we were able to do this I know how tired and exhausted you’ve been.

57:44.47
Ali
I know I know.

57:52.60
Ali
Me too.

57:56.66
charukaarora
But I so appreciate you actually doing this and you know how much that means to me I got to see Tula and I’m going to still see her once I mean I’m going to bid her goodbye and just a daughter for a few seconds more but I just want to say a big thank you. But before that um. Do have anything that’s coming up that you want to share and where can people find you on social media website and if you have something like if you have anything that you want to share where people can support you by buying your work commissions and everything else.

58:29.16
Ali
Sure? Um I have a few projects that one really amazing project that I worked on with Morris Home in Philadelphia which is a trans and nonbinary. Ah. Essentially like recovery home and they just do such amazing work and so I worked with the group there to create a mural and that was worked on it probably took about 2 years to to work on this project and I haven’t posts. Yeah, the mural’s finished.

58:58.46
charukaarora
Oh my goodness.

59:04.13
Ali
But I haven’t posted anything about it yet and it’ll be installed in the spring or you know may I think so I’m really excited about that. Um, and so that’s something that’s kind of coming that I’m really proud of and you can see it.

59:07.90
charukaarora
Oh my god.

59:22.13
Ali
Ah, or other work that I’m doing on my Instagram account at Allie M Williams that’s a l I m williams that’s also my website.

59:28.58
charukaarora
Perfect anyone who’s listening yes I will actually link all of these the artists Ali mentioned and Ali’s work Tula’s murals picture of Tula and Ali all of that in english show notdes.

59:41.85
Ali
Cool.

59:46.37
charukaarora
You have to have to for Tula? Um, on Tula’s command actually go check them out. Go check Allie’s website for work and make sure that you support her your support can just you know I think we all just. Appreciate when people look at our work. Um share their views and like you know I think like in a comment goes so far for creators we like you said like you know it’s it’s so much more about when people see our work and you know resonate or connect with it.

01:00:21.52
Ali
E.

01:00:24.25
charukaarora
That means a math so I highly highly recommend you doing that and I just want to say a big. Thank you Allie for coming here. Thank you so much.

01:00:31.15
Ali
Yeah, thank you I had so much fun chatting with you. Thanks for having me.

01:00:34.69
charukaarora
Same yeah I can’t absolutely I can’t wait to have you can soon and I will see you soon.

01:00:41.98
Ali
All right elcia.

CATEGORIES:

Charuka Arora

Charuka Arora is a creator at heart. An Artists, designer, podcaster & founder of Arts To Hearts Project. She is Internationally recognised artist
 known for her hand crafted Indian embellished collages & paintings.
Her work has been featured in several international worldwide blogs and publications, including create magazine, candy floss magazine, Fad magazine, The Jealous Curator, visionary art collective, art mums united, Indian artists book of colour to name a few.

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