Believe it or not, well-known local artists David Cowles and Laura Wilder had a daughter who’s an artist.
Alison Coté‘s poster art has been decorating Rochester for some time now making her a perfect choice to create this year’s Lilac Festival poster.
Adam talked with her about the poster and her blossoming career.
Adam: Let’s talk about the Lilac Fest poster first. What was your inspiration for that?
Coté: I loved having a mother-daughter scene because it is during Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day happens during the Lilac Festival and the softness of spring and rebirth and it’s all kind of maternal. And my inspiration always comes from vintage-style art because I’m a vintage-style artist and I knew for this I wanted to do an early 1900s-style poster and just the soft colors of spring and the flat shapes and designs all just kind of led to what it is.
Adam: What attracted you to vintage?
Coté: I just love the care that was put into design from years ago. I think people just put a lot more time and skill into the design for everyday advertising. Now you can just go on Photoshop and throw something together and so it’s sort of lost that artistry.
Adam: That must be difficult, though, in this day and age to try to reproduce that artistry when the demands are for the more rapid production…
Coté: The nice thing about being in this time period, creating in that style is that I can create it quickly because I have digital tools and I can edit, undo anything, I don’t have to scrap a whole painting and start over again, so I can create things very quickly and I think a lot of people are very nostalgic for that look and they kind of want to dip back into that.
Adam: What is life like being an artist like this where you work job to job?
Coté: It’s great. I love it, I love my job. It gives me lots of flexibility. I’m living my childhood dream really. I get these assignments, I get these challenges to create things to look like a certain decade which I’ve always been really interested in and now people pay me to do it.
Adam: You’re obviously influenced by your parents, your father is a very well-known artist in the area. What type of impression did they make on you?
Coté・ The biggest impression they made on me is you can do this full time. My parents were divorced and I went back and forth and saw each of my parents could sustain a household individually on just a freelance art career and so it was always in the back of my mind, I can do this, it’s easy and that’s a big reason why I think I’m able to do this. My dad definitely sparked my love of kitschy vintage. He sat me down, had me watching the Brady Bunch and I’d have homework assignments basically and he’d be like, OK, we’re watching this today and so I definitely love the 50s and 60s kitsch and 70s because of my dad. My mom made me love the soft, old, beautiful design of the early 1900s…
Adam: Do you feel out of time, like this isn’t the right time for you?
Coté: No, I’m right where I need to be. It’s a good time for women or it’s becoming a good time for women and I’m definitely appreciative of all the work that’s done and been done for me already and I’m in a place where I can be a successful freelance artist as a woman, which is great and I can dip back into all these eras. If I were born in the 60s, I wouldn’t even know about the 80s.