meet the artist responsible for those amazing gucci murals
Alex Merry makes a world we wished we lived in.
illustration by Alex Merry
You will have seen Alex Merry’s illustrations on Instagram, covering giant walls in NY and Tokyo, painted onto Gucci garments -- delicate birds on silk bombers, tigers roar on shoes. The Stroud-based illustrator, who is sister to Björk collaborator and embroiderer James, has hand painted the campaigns for Gucci interiors for over a year now -- her dusky, dreamy fashion netherworld looking like no other interiors commercial known to man-kind.
Hi, Alex! How did you become an artist?
If there’s a normal route I guess it was that. My parents were very supportive. I studied art history at York, and then illustration at Bristol with an excellent tutor who emphasised traditional drawing styles, which is something that really appealed to me. I've tried to keep learning as I go along.
How did you find your style?
I don’t know if I really found my style until after I finished my degree and moved to London. I started really getting into folk traditions. I went to Cecil Sharp House [the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society] during my first few months of living in the capital and got hooked on Morris dancing. Being in London, where there’s so much to do, the city forces you to find your space within in it. Morris and folk had a really strong influence on my work.
You have a creative family, is this a help or a hindrance?
My mum, sister and brother are all artists. Our whole childhood was spent using our imaginations, from painting and inventing games at home to building sand sculptures on a summer holiday. It was our own merry world and it’s meant my siblings and I still feel really connected to our childhood and feed from that in our art. Creativity has always been there and my parents are my main inspiration. I love returning to the feeling and thoughts of childhood, the brightness and vivacity of that time of life.
What is it like working with Gucci, do you have a lot of input or does it come from them?
Gucci give me total creative freedom. They send me images of the products and then it is down to me as to how I interpret it and the setting I choose to put them in. I’ve never had work like it, as usually you have quite specific briefs and expectations. Having that freedom is both scary, as it’s all on you, but also amazingly liberating as an artist. It’s been such a great opportunity.
How long does each piece of art take to complete?
The work for Gucci has been to quite tight deadlines, which has been very interesting for my art, as I wouldn’t usually paint so quickly and intensely. One illustration would take me roughly three days to make. I do a lot of commissioned portraits and album art work and those take a few weeks, to make sure both yours and the client’s vision come through.
What was it like first seeing your artwork for them painted on a wall, out in the wild? Have you seen any of them in the flesh?
I had an idea of what it might look like from seeing photos online, but being able to sit and drink at a café next to something I had designed next to me is incredible. Hats off to the mural painters! They’ve managed to capture the detail excellently.
Do you do the paintings from photos or do they send you the gear in real life?
I was gifted the Ophidia bag from Gucci and I painted that from real life (with my brushes trembling with joy!) but all other work have used photographs as reference.
Your interior images have a surreal, dreamy quality to them; where does this come from, is this what your life is really like?
I’d flipping love to live in one of those Gucci Décor dream-rooms! It’s so much fun creating them into being and I try not to overthink the process -- when I sit down to paint I ideally want the subconscious to take the reins. I find the different Gucci products completely inspirational and they ignite lots of illustration visions.
Do they pay you in garms or no?
No! That would be dreamy!