Alex Foxton graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2006, having studied Fashion at both BA and MA level, and where he was tutored by Louise Wilson. Having spent the last 11 years working as a designer for some of the most famous fashion houses in the world, he has recently become a freelancer in order to concentrate on his true passion – painting. With his first exhibition now showing, we caught up with him to find out how he made the decision to change careers:
What made you choose Central Saint Martins to study?
I loved the ethos – they told us at the open day that you’re not given anything and more or less left to your own devices; I loved that. CSM was my only choice, if I hadn’t been accepted I would have just reapplied each year until I got in like they do on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
What did you do after graduating from UAL?
I was lucky and got a job before I graduated. I worked for Vuitton, Bottega Veneta and Margiela before going freelance to have time to develop a career as a painter.
Has your degree had any impact on your work? If so, how?
Definitely on my career. On my work, it’s hard to say, except that it trained me to be very self-motivated. As a creative person you have to be able to get up and work without anyone expecting you to.
Have the relationships you formed at UAL helped you since leaving?
I got my first job through a recommendation from Louise Wilson, so yes. But the famous network only goes so far; you still have to be good, you still have to work hard.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I always think the best moment is just around the corner.
How did you choose to make the move from full-time designer to freelancing and painting?
It was a natural decision. I got to the end of a contract and as painting was taking up most of my free time I just decided to go for it rather than diving into a new position. What’s been great is finding a way to work on both fashion and art without compromising either. In fact I think they feed into each other. I kind of wish I’d done it sooner.
The colours you use are beautiful, what is your main inspiration for your paintings?
Colour is what people react to most in my work. They often (but not always) come first in planning a painting. I try to use colours that are considered trashy, tacky, effeminate, unserious – there might be a lot of psychological reasons for that, but mostly it’s because they immediately grab your eye. I remember thinking that I wanted to make paintings that hum, which is why I started using pink and yellow next to each other. They are still my favourites, though yellow is very difficult. It makes everything else look dull. Pink is easy. And it brings so many connotations. I love to put it next to colours you might consider bourgeois – beiges, warm greens, stone greys, those National Trust shades. Recently I’ve been thinking about blue a lot, and trying to use those trashy bright pinks and yellows in a way that is more tender.
What is next for you?
My first exhibition, at the end of April, at Galerie Air Project in Geneva. I’ve also just started working at Dior with Kim Jones, who I’ve known since college days….
If you are in Geneva you can see Alex’s work in the exhibition Attitudes at the Galerie Air Project (24 April – 18 June 2018). You can also see more of his work on his website or follow him on instagram (@alexfoxton).