Roseville, CA 95661
Roseville resident and freelance artist Alexandra Nelson is a proponent of spreading DIY art culture in the ’burbs, and she gets a little help from her friends, too. The 23-year-old is a self-described “dabbler” of different creative endeavors, but her most recent one is an installation at Bloom Coffee & Tea (1485 Eureka Road, Suite 100 in Roseville). It consists of a nest of branches and vintage colored stringed-lights, massive blooms made of coffee filters, vintage picture frames and strung straws—a similar aesthetic to the whimsical and at times extravagant displays at Anthropologie stores, where she also works as part of the visual team. Her installation remains in the cafe until January 31, and she blogs about her projects at http://alimakesart.blogspot.com.
How long did it take to install?
We only had one night to install everything, but we came up with the concept within a week. They close at 11 [p.m.], so we got in here, probably at 12 or 12:30 [a.m.], and they open at 6, so we just pulled an all-nighter, grabbed some friends and had Luke and Jake [Elia, Bloom’s owners] just install everything that night.
When was your first installation?
I actually started at Anthropologie as an associate when our store opened in June of 2008, and then I interned as part of the visual team, and then I got hired on as visual sales in the earlier part of [last] year.
Are you thinking about art school?
I’ve been looking into different ones in Portland [Ore.], especially. I just really like the vibe up there, and looking at different people and schools in the area, it seems the competition is really high, and I really admire that. … In the next year or so, that’s what I’d like to do, and just working on freelance stuff until then.
What kind of stuff?
I dabble in a lot of stuff. I’m such—I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing—some people have one thing that they’re really passionate about, and do only that … and I think what’s been fun for me, and what I’ve done so far has been possible because I haven’t gone to [art] school, I haven’t picked a major yet. … I’ve made a lot of invitations, I’ve done graphic design, lots of T-shirt design and any kind of print work like that, lots of digital arts, photography.
What’s your house like? Are you a crazy hoarder?
Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious. You should see my car right now. Basically, because I feel like I see potential in everything, all of these little things, there’s so much stuff. These frames on the wall were in the back of my car for, like, two months, because I knew I’d have a purpose for them at some point.
How big is your car?
I have a Civic, a Honda Civic, so not very. But I’ll literally see things and just feel like I’ll have a purpose for them. … My grandpa has a ranch out past Lincoln; they’re rice farmers, and my dad’s a rice farmer, so whenever we go out there, there’s tons of things that people have just left undiscovered, like old wooden things that are deteriorating and half-buried.
Over on that wall there’s this wooden structure, and I found that buried out there, and my dad was like, “Please, just put it on the dump pile. Don’t grab that, it’s embarrassing.” I was like, “Dad, you’ll see, it’ll be on a wall somewhere at some point.”
On a whim [recently], I decided to throw a trunk show, just like a handmade market in my mom’s house. We had eight or nine vendors. We went to one in Santa Cruz, and it was so much fun, just inviting everyone in the community together, spend the night just drinking champagne, hanging out.
Roseville and Auburn and the whole foothills area, it’s largely suburbia and box stores, so it’s really rare to find handmade things. When you do, people really love it, because it’s not what they see all the time. So bringing that to my mom’s group of friends was really fun. … So I made a bunch of headbands, and when it’s all displayed, it’s so beautiful, but people like my grandparents don’t understand that. They like new and shiny.
Why did you use the word aglow for the installation?
We were trying to decide on a word for long time, actually. Something with the holiday spirit, but wasn’t overtly cheesy Christmas. I actually wound up opening it up on my Facebook page to all my friends, and we had this long list of words going. So on there, I said, “What is the word to you that encompasses holiday, cozy, family, all of these things about winter and the spirit of the holidays?” The one that everyone loved that gave that sort of feeling when you read it was aglow.
I’m not sure yet. There’s always something. I’m constantly busy, but it’s always some frenzy of activity. [December was] out of control. The one night that we installed here, I worked a full shift, then came here, installed overnight, then went back to work at 7 the next morning, no sleeping. I was like, OK, just hand me more coffee.