Alysia Alex, Artist Relations Manager
Today we get to introduce you to our new bestie, the lady that manages all the artwork that finds its way into the magical world of Ban.do (prayer hands emoji). Alysia Alex has the know-how and passion to help create amazingly fun products and a genuinely special community, and we couldn't love her more. Thanks for sharing Alysia!
What do you do?
I’m the Artist Relations Manager at an LA based lifestyle brand called Ban.do. We design clothes, accessories, gifts, stationery, and more inspired by the power of friendship, the good old days, and all things FUN.
One of the factors that sets Ban.do apart from most lifestyle brands is that we collaborate with artists all over the globe and do so in a way that promotes and supports the artist and their career. I have the incredibly fun job of finding new artists to work with, pitching their work, and overseeing their surface designs as they make their way through our collections. This also entails things like negotiating contracts, overseeing a budget, making sure artists get paid, understanding copyright/trademark laws and most importantly making sure the artists we work with and have worked with for years continue to feel apart of our brand and our creative family.
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
Here are some general haiku/Dr. Suess sounding sentiments I like to keep in mental rotation:
* Be kind, have empathy, but don’t be a pushover
* Fear is real, fear is also silly. Everything great is on the other side of fear unless you’re walking down a dark alley in which case don’t.
* Where you are now is exactly where you need to be. Have goals, have dreams, but don’t compare your goals and dreams to everyone else’s.
* Try hard, try your best, try at least once so you don’t have any regrets.
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
* Moving across the country for undergrad art school at SAIC, challenging everything I ever thought I knew about anything, realizing I was better at advocating for artists vs. being an artist myself.
* Breaking up with the artworld post graduation, exploring other romantic/non romantic career options, realizing the artworld was my one true love after helping to produce United States Artists annual Artist Assembly.
* Taking another leap of faith and moving back to LA for grad school at a time when the art community was evolving and growing and quickly becoming a hub for young creatives. Oh and of course that one fateful night where I canceled all my plans to stay in and apply for a badass job at company I had admired for years. *cough Ban.do *cough.
Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?
I cried in front of a Felix Gonzalez Torres piece when I was 19 and it was the first time I realized art could actually make you feel some type of way.
What places are important to you?
I feel like my best self in the desert . Whether it’s Yucca Valley CA or Marfa TX it’s hard not to get inspired by the dry heat, vast skies, neutral color palettes and of course all the road-side oddities that make no sense and all the sense at once.
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
This isn’t advice in the traditional sense but ever since I can remember my dad has always ended every goodbye with a “be cool” at the end - as in “Alright, have fun. Be cool.” or “Thanks for calling. Talk to you later. Be cool.” I’ve always understood it as his way of saying “you’re smart, we’ve taught you well, don’t do anything stupid, go out into the world and be your best self and also just CALM DOWN.” So whenever I’m feeling uneasy or unsure or insecure I will think to myself “Alright, just be cool. Go out there and be cool.” It works every time. I even used our self expression black flock iron-on letters to make a shirt that says Be Cool in his honor. Dad if you’re reading this I think you’re cool!
How can we find out more about your work?
Definitely check out bando.com and @shopbando for all the latest. The I’ve Got Friends Campaign is my favorite yet. A ton of artist designed shirts in that collection and an amazing bomber jacket by Georgia Perry! You can also peek all of this year’s Agenda artists here! Oh and if you’re an artist and want to collaborate with Ban.do you can submit work to me here!
For day to day updates on my end you can find me at @alysiaalex :)
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Do you have enough space on the blog for that? Just kidding. Let’s see…We just launch our I’ve Got Friends campaign (the first collection I worked on at Ban.do), we’re about to wrap up design for our Fall/Winter 2018 collection, we’re sending our next Agenda off to print in a few weeks ( so many great new artists in there!), and next up is finding artists for Spring/Summer 2019 gift and apparel. Omg what year is it even?!
What is your dream project?
Aside from Ban.do dream projects I’m really interested in art & design objects - specifically those rooted in Scandinavian modernism, Japanese minimalism, and iconic Californian cool. I fully believe that good art can be functional and good design can be art and so at some point I’d really love to open up a little space that highlights work from young makers navigating these aesthetics. I may or may not already have the business plan for this project…
What’s something surprising about you, that we might not know?
I’m secretly a huge introvert with a good amount of social anxiety. Extroverted Introvert. That’s a thing, right?
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
Currently reading: Durga Chew-Bose’s Too Much and Not The Mood
Currently watching: Insecure
Currently listening to: New York Times Daily podcast, Jamila Woods’ HEAVN, my boyfriend’s infamous two day long playlists. :)
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
Speaking to the greater art industry / art world in general, unfortunately there are a lot of areas that need improvement. I’d like to see more female leadership in arts institutions, equal exposure opportunities for female artists, fair and equal wages for working artists and art administrators, an absolute end to working for ‘exposure’, and above all a dedication to diversity in the field. Fortunately I see a lot of my generation - the future of art leadership - taking a stand for these issues and I really do believe that if we continue to hold each other accountable daily we’ll be able to affect these changes in our lifetime.
What do you want to be asked about that no one ever asks you?
I had a conversation with a few coworkers recently about how when you meet new people in a social setting the first question you’re often asked is “What do you do?” I’m guilty of it too because careers fascinate me and if someone replies “serial killer” you know when to run. But then are we all just left defining each other’s interests and worth based on our job titles?
My colleague Sara suggested that we start asking each other “What do you like to do?” I mean sure someone may still respond with “serially kill” but I bet in general the answers would be deeper and you’d make a new friend faster. That was a long winded way to say I’d like to be asked “what do you like to do?”
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
I feel lucky in that my experience working in the arts has predominantly involved a supportive female network. I saw this the most during grad school when I found a really amazing group of independent, driven girlfriends working in a similar field, striving for similar goals, and navigating the same obstacles I was facing. We helped each other through our thesis projects, then job applications, negotiating salaries, and celebrating wins. Still in awe by that community and sense of constant support.
Ban.do is also unique in that we’re a company made up almost entirely of women. We have about 40 people working in our LA HQ - only 3 of which are men, and both our CCO and COO are women. Its truly one of the most collaborative supportive work environments I’ve been apart of and I’m constantly convinced we can do anything. There’s a lot of girl power in this office for sure but more than that it’s solid leadership, creativity, success, and support front and center. My hope is that at some point working in an office that exudes that kind of female driven network feels less like a privilege and more like the status quo.