Angelie Alexie Nethercott’s relationship with art may not have been instant (she did delve in physics and occupational therapy at first); but once it did, her artistic journey was set in motion and her passion project ‘Alexie’ [link] was born.
Today, with a number of eye-popping and colorful footwear designs, she helps exude confidence through her work, as well as the idea that each and every one of us is unique — or a limited edition, per se.
As this month’s Likhaan featured creator, Angelie swept us off our feet when she shared with us her story and her (he)art.
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Can you describe your creative journey so far?
In one word: WONDERFUL. I say this because my journey was full of wonders. It was a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, curiosity, and doubt among many others.
In a way, it is a totally unexpected journey because I never thought that I would become an artist. Until now, I can’t completely say nor acknowledge that I am one… and it might be because I look up to artists a lot.
When did you begin making art and what made you want to become an artist?
When I was young, I didn’t draw or paint. I didn’t join any Filipino art competitions; but, I did handicrafts and choreographed dances. I actually really love the art of dancing and it was one of my top interests ever since I was a child.
In Grade 2, someone gifted me some beads and I ended up making dangling earrings out of them. I sold it to our helpers for Php15 to Php20 each — some were even on credit! I did this again during Grade 4 and that time around, I sold it to my classmates. I also loved to do mini paper stars and hand embroideries as a hobby. But… not once did I think that it was art. Besides, I didn’t take it seriously, I just simply loved to do it!
I remember that I used to be so jealous of my classmates who could draw and I always asked them to teach me; however, it was a totally different thing that’s why it never came to my mind that I wanted to become an artist. In fact, in college, I was totally confused about the course that I wanted to pursue. There was Multimedia Arts at the De La Salle – College of San Benilde but it was a relatively new course so my mom didn’t want me to try that (she wanted me to become a doctor). I also checked out Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas but that phrase itself — ‘fine arts’ — totally intimidated me.
In the end, I pursued a 5-year pre-med course in Occupational Therapy. I did my very best at this up until my 4th year because I realized that I wasn’t happy. It even reached a point where I would often get sick because of stress. And as if I was escaping that reality, instead of studying for my daily exams, I was rather doing art commissions like graphic design (no matter if I didn’t have any formal training for that). Sometimes as well, if my pre-med course happened to have requirements for artistic concepts, I felt especially motivated to do it.
I talked to my parents about the idea of shifting courses and I know that although it might be a disappointing decision, I would rather choose to follow my heart. Some people say that you have to choose your battles and back then, I chose to face my fear. From that moment onwards, I did all I could to learn the skills and the tools that I needed. This was a long journey of exploration and self-discovery… but I’ve learned that as long as you will it, even if you’re not good, you can always find a way to do it. It was in those moments that I realized that I actually wanted to become an artist. I talked to my parents about the idea of shifting courses and I know that although it might be a disappointing decision, I would rather choose to follow my heart. Some people say that you have to choose your battles and back then, I chose to face my fear. From that moment onwards, I did all I could to learn the skills and the tools that I needed. This was a long journey of exploration and self-discovery… but I’ve learned that as long as you will it, even if you’re not good, you can always find a way to do it.
How did you arrive at your current art style?
Finding one’s art style is difficult. Truth be told, it has been a huge struggle for me and it took me a while to be consistent with my art style. Until now, it is a continuous learning process and exploration… but one thing is for sure: I love textures or anything that you can touch because, for me, the sense of touch surprisingly generates powerful and long-lasting memories. Apart from this, I also love mixing media!
My love for this kind of art style started when I first created a pair of slides for me and my sister. After that, I decided to explore and create 100 pairs of slides that are inspired by the personalities and looks of each client, up until it reached beyond my limit. From there, I came up with a passion project which is my brand Alexie.
One day, I was on my balcony wearing eyeglasses, and I caught a glimpse of a blurry skyline. Out came the idea of seeing endless possibilities everywhere, of something raw and real — something oddly perfect. I eventually got this image or idea of a genuine person who has a charm about her, or who is ahead of her time and I told myself that I want to share my passion and he(Art) with people so that they can see this beauty of character and confidence… that when one finds out what is uniquely their own, they will own it and they become one with the art. This was a fitting idea because I am for women’s empowerment and for supporting those who are afraid to follow their passion or dreams.
This is also probably why I always say “I want to create something that pops!” or something that will make people stop, stare and wonder because I think that when others ask about what you wear, it will always add up to your confidence — it will help you value yourself even more and to just be YOU because everyone is a limited edition.
What’s your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created? Please tell us more about the story behind this piece/item.
My favorite is what I call “Alexie Popslides” because it was a memorable piece for me and my hero. Back in August 2018, I created a pair of slides for me and my sister (one of which was actually my birthday gift for her). I didn’t have anything to do at that time and I was still waiting for an advertising agency to hire me.
Like I previously mentioned, I wanted anything that ‘pops’, and I also find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect. One day, I was walking from the MRT station and I saw a plain pair of slides. I bought 2 pairs and it took me weeks to think of what I wanted to do with them — up until my sister’s birthday!
I painted a girl and put some feathers underneath to serve as clothing and after wearing it for a few days, someone asked me where I bought the slides. It was then that I had an idea to take their order… and the rest was history.
What would you say has been the most challenging aspect when it comes to selling?
In general, selling artwork is difficult because everyone has different tastes and perspectives. It’s definitely something that you can’t force on someone.
It might be because I’m an advertising student, but I know that everything has a niche market. Plus, there are items that just can’t be made into a hard sell; so I thought that I shouldn’t do the same for my artwork because I want it to speak for itself. It’s probably because it is all personal to me, that’s why I absolutely like it if someone buys my products because it’s what they really wanted.
Naturally, the biggest challenge is on how I can make others like my art pieces if they’re the kind of people who are uninterested or not fond of it — or if they always end up comparing my art pieces to more prominent names in the industry. It’s also a challenge if someone tries to haggle for an art piece that I worked hard on with all my heart and soul. Besides, as an artist, it’s honestly difficult to do pricing, so it’s another challenge to get some respect out of the price that you set for your artwork.
What is your most important or indispensable art tool or supplies?
My thread, needle, beads, and paints. I think these are my power tools.
Who are your biggest influencers?
When it comes to art, my biggest influencers are Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, and Yayoi Kasuma because their artworks made a profound impact on me. I am not really fond of following personalities, but I also look up to Victoria Beckham and Kim Jones because I love their sense of style and how they carry themselves.
What are your main sources of inspiration? Within the realm of arts or even elsewhere?
Inspiration is everyone and everywhere. I see beauty in every single thing that I come across.
In general, I get inspiration from my own life as well as from the people around me. I always find inspiration from the different life experiences that I go through, no matter how simple or complicated they may be.
For me, inspiration is everyone and everywhere. I see beauty in every single thing that I come across. At times, even if I’m just watching a movie, there will be something in there — the shapes of the clouds or leaves — that will spark some ideas in me. It can totally be something unusual, and even if it’s impossible, I will make it possible. Maybe that’s just who I am.
For my shoe art pieces, it’s possibly because of how I grew up surrounded by my mom’s RTW and jewelry business as well as our house’s French Victorian-inspired interiors that I ended up being inclined to classical and romantic pieces. Dance, music, and fashion — my wearable art pieces are all inspired by the shoes of French Victorian Kings and Queens, specifically Queen Marie Antoinette. I absolutely love their shoes!
When do you feel most creative?
Honestly, I don’t know when I’m most creative because sometimes, I would feel so unproductive but my mind still keeps on wondering and thinking of ideas that I couldn’t do…
But once I figure something out and I start working on it, no one would be able to take me off my seat! I do notice though that I like to work alone at dawn, and maybe it’s because I love the silence that allows me to think more.
How do you overcome creative blocks? Do you have any tips for other creators to stay productive/motivated?
I believe that for all creators, it’s normal to have creative blocks as it is a part of the creative process. Personally, it’s frustrating when there are no ideas that come to mind, so what I will do is try and let go: I will take some rest, watch movies, go out to meet friends, read articles and browse art inspirations.
I do this because I realized that when I force myself, the ideas nor the drive to work would never come. This is why I let things be and when I do, an idea would just suddenly come to mind at any time of the day. Sometimes it comes when I’m about to sleep, so I’ll wake myself up to write down what I thought.
If I may share a tip: always trust your creative process and instinct. There are times we just don’t realize that what we’re doing is already a part of us being creative, so don’t change yourself because you’re pressured to create something different. If I may say so myself, sometimes, the artworks that you didn’t try so hard on end up becoming the most revolutionary.
What do you think is a creator's role in the community?
I believe that the real value or role of a creator is their ability to express the truth in a way that influences other people for the better: to be as true to themselves as they can within the society or the community. Basically, artists have the responsibility to unearth the truth of things in any way.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a creator?
There are definitely a number of external and internal factors that will test the grit and perseverance of a creator.
For external, maybe it’s the challenge to be understood by the people around them. The negativity and pressure of society can even be a driving force that can stop an artist’s focus or creative juices to flow.
For internal, self-doubt would be one. It’s absolutely challenging for an artist to overcome self-doubt and gather confidence in their work. But it may end up being a good thing because sometimes it will help an artist to stay grounded.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring or new creators, what would it be?
The value of a creator is in their ability to express the truth in a way that influences other people for the better.
It may sound cliché but follow your dreams and follow your heart’s desire!
They say that “passion triumphs talent”, and that’s true because your passion will be your fuel no matter the difficulties or tough times that you encounter in your life’s journey. Besides, at the end of the day, it will all be worth it.
Do you have any exciting new projects you’re planning to launch in the near future?
Currently, I’m working on my next Alexie collection, but in the future, I am hoping and praying to start an advocacy project.
I can’t deny that there are still a lot of things that I have to explore and go through: I want to create new and various wearable art pieces, I want to have my own office, I want to hire people, I want to study further, I want to be visible on the international scene, I want to have my own advocacy and so many others.
I’ve got too many plans, but I take it day by day. I know there are still so many things to learn and I trust God for this. I know He has plans for me and I trust in God’s time. My job, for now, is to work and play… tuloy-tuloy lang.
Why did you decide to join Likhaan? What are some goals you’d like to achieve with this platform?
Because it is a “hearted” project. Many have asked me to join a community and some of them did not spark my enthusiasm to join; but when I got to know the story behind Likhaan, I had goosebumps because of the mission, vision, and core value of the project are the same with mine.
I think this will be the perfect platform for me to share my he(Art) with the public. Ever since, my goal has been to inspire people, especially the youth, to reach for their stars because nothing is truly impossible. The word itself says I’Mpossible.. so I want to push others to do what they love and NOT be afraid. I also want to empower women to embrace their uniqueness!
You are a limited edition, make them stop and stare.