Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Alicia Levantini, and I’m a self-taught pen & ink illustrator living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I do custom house and building drawings as well as create stationery and prints of my work.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve always been a lover of Philadelphia’s charming row homes and of walking around the city admiring them. Over quarantine, I started to draw Philadelphia stoops in my neighborhood, and as soon as I posted them online, I had a long waitlist for me to draw other people’s stoops and houses! What started out as a quarantine hobby has turned into my full-time job. I feel so lucky to do what I do!
You use so many vibrant colors, do you have any that you favor?
I absolutely love when I’m able to create a blooming window flower box or garden landscape in my custom house drawings! I love when there are splashes of pinks, purples, and reds in the illustrations. I also swoon over a colorful front door – I think blue is my favorite to draw!
What inspires your art?
My love of charming architecture, and creating realistic-looking, to-scale, drawings – all while incorporating bright colors and fine lines.
How and when did you get into art?
I’ve been a creator since I was old enough to hold a paintbrush. My parents say that on my first day of preschool, I walked through the door and right up to the easels! I haven’t stopped creating since.
How has your practice changed over time?
I’ve really fine-tuned the art supplies that I use. I have found my favorite brush pens, fine liners, and erasers, and I don’t stray from them! I’ve been using Strathmore paper from the start, though!
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?
This is such a tough question because I feel so connected to all of my drawings! I think my favorite has to be this West Philadelphia Victorian house. It really pushed my boundaries of what I thought I was capable of doing, and it ended up better than I could have hoped for.
What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?
To scan every drawing I do, in both the outline and full-color versions!
What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?
Do everything in pencil first!! I draw my entire house drawings completely in pencil first and then go in with my micron pens and brush pens. This allows me to minimize mistakes, and to make sure everything is looking good before it gets finalized.
Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?
I have a couple of tricks I always use: I use white plastic erasers to erase the toughest dark pencil marks that are hard to get rid of, and I always keep a white gel pen nearby to “erase” any stray brush pen marks from a lighter area of my drawing.
What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?
Hands down, the Strathmore Bristol paper pads. The paper is so smooth and my brush pens glide right on. It also is forgiving for heavy-handed pencil users like me!
What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?
I love any bright colors that are naturally found in nature and make my drawings pop. Pinks, purples, and reds for flowers, blue or green front doors, and a beautiful brick red color for houses.
Who are your biggest influences?
My work is very different from his, but I’ve always been a lover of Claude Monet. His landscapes transport me to another world and bring me a feeling of tranquility. I especially love his waterscapes and garden paintings.
What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?
Do you work off of photos, or do you sit in front of the building you’re drawing? I work off of photos! Each piece takes me many, many hours. I sit at home, with my cat on my lap, and work off of photos as my references. This also allows me to draw houses and buildings in any part of the world, not just in Philadelphia.
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