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Press Release: Light Fantastic

Press Release: Light Fantastic

June 3rd, 2014

Southampton-based artist hoping to become the world's first underwater illustrator!

Back in 2005, award winning graphic designer and illustrator, Alison Bates swapped her London career as an advertising art director for a better quality of life by the sea. As enthusiastic scuba diving instructors and sailor, Alison and her family decided living near Hamble was a no brainer. But it’s the light along the coast that has really launched Alison’s creative boat. 

Alison has always produced illustrations as part of her job in advertising and marketing. As her drawings have been predominantly computer generated vector graphics, it’s only recently she has discovered the joys of putting pen to paper. Or to be more precise, finger to screen. Alison has been exploring the iPad sketching app ‘Paper’ used by creatives the world over to jot down quick ideas, which has lead to a whole new portfolio of watercolour style sketches. 

illustration commissions“It’s the quality of light that appeals. The luminosity of drawing on a tablet really reflects all the subject matter I love.” She says. “I love shiny reflective surfaces, historical architecture, foods and of course, anything to do with the sea. The app is perfect for expressing light as the layers of translucent colours build up to give illustrations an extra luminosity, something which is difficult to do with pastels. It’s brilliant for drawing things like the glazed tiles and plate glass on Victorian buildings, the sparkle of the sea, the shine on glacé cherry cupcakes, glowing lanterns and just about everything I like.” 

illustration commission Alison goes on to say: “I’ve tried watercolours sketching in a traditional sketchbook, but I always end up with dirty hands and you have to traipse around with water and pastels that can melt in the sun. The Paper app, has radically changed my whole creativity. From when I step out of my front door in the morning, to driving back in the dark on rainy streets I keep on thinking - wouldn’t that look good if it was drawn in Paper?”   

Alison has had commissions for everything from cats, bats, boats, cosmetics, confectionary, to iPads and architectural drawings. She also does sketches on the iPad while travelling. A selection of these were used in Sunsail’s last flotilla holiday brochure. 

illustration commissionsAt the moment Alison is drawing a set of Southampton’s historic buildings. She has just finished the old Midland Bank building on 129 High Street. “I love the ornate style, the bath stone and the coat of arms with its lion and ladies. Over the past few years, the building has served as a venue for a number of clubs and restaurants. I hope someone does the building justice and finds a sympathetic use for it.”

So what next? “I’m hoping to illustrate a children’s book using the app. But perhaps more imminently, I want to take an iPad underwater and do a few drawings in situ whilst diving. There are many underwater photographers but drawing underwater, now that’s got to be a first.”

Notes for editors: 
Alison Bates is a Southampton based illustrator and graphic designer. The majority of her career has been spent as an advertising art director in London, working on campaigns for blue chip organisations. Eight years ago she moved to Hampshire, and under the brand PingSweetie, her work has become predominantly illustration focussed. Alison has fascination with kitsch and colourful design. Alison is available for illustration commissions and you can see more of her work at More info about The Paper App can be found on 

Please click below to view Ali's additional illustrations. 

alisons pingsweetie office.jpgPingSweetie Paper App Buildings.jpgPingSweetie Paper App Cartoon.jpgPingSweetie Paper App Travel.jpg



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