Hi, I’m Alison Beere. And yep, that’s pronounced just like the beer you can drink ;).
I’m a cartoonist and I teach beginner to intermediate cartooning classes both online, and at the Frank Joubert Art Centre in Rondebosch, Cape Town.
I wasn’t always a cartoonist…
I used to be (well, still could be if I chose) a Chartered Accountant. I took a career break to be with my kids and started a web business. As part of my travels on the Interwebz, I got involved in an online community run by a former cartoonist.
To be honest, I hadn’t picked up so much as a coloured crayon since primary school.
So why did I sign up to learn to cartoon?
After all the left-brain accounting, I wanted to use ‘the other side’ of my brain. And have some fun. And hey, cartoons are hardly art-critic territory, so that made the Big Scary Leap possible, even to an introvert, risk-averse accountant.
Another compelling reason was probably that my mentor doesn’t believe in inborn talent. “Talent is skill,” he says, “and skill is built through one heck of a lot of practice and feedback.”
Turns out he was right.
So I went over to the Dark Light-Hearted Side
Within three months I had perfect strangers coming up to me in cafes where I was sketching and asking “Are you a professional cartoonist?” At first I just laughed at the thought of how they had been duped. But as it happened over and over and over again, eventually I began to answer quite simply: “Yes.”
From student to artist
And from artist to teacher
After a few years, I began to ‘co-pilot’ cartoon courses and learn teaching skills. And now I teach both live and on-line, and am converting my proven live courses into home-studies so that you don’t have to live in Cape Town to take part in them.
For my students, they can reach a level of expertise where they are confident to do their own product illustrations within 6 months. The huge win however is in the added bonuses:
- learning to access the quirky side of themselves and unlock creativity, and
- gaining habits that improve their daily habits to be more productive far beyond cartooning.
For myself I have found my natural habitat in private, online forums where I can engage and encourage with ease, and watch people unfurl and blossom to reach levels of skill that they never dream of achieving.
In the end, it all boils down to one word…
My friends and colleagues describe me as loyal, reliable, dependable. IT may not be a shoot-the-lights-out description, but it describes me well because I hate to let anyone down, ever.
I have a terrier-like tenacity. I go to great lengths to understand what my students and coaching clients want to achieve, and I engineer exercises to get them there. During live, online courses, I show up every day and offer the feedback my students need to improve faster.
Here are a few other curious facts about me
- I love hammocks. If you want to sell me your house, send a photo of it with a hammock tied out on the patio.
- In summer I go barefoot.
- I’m super-curious to the point of being quizzy…
- I read at warp-speed
- My husband says I have a memory like an elephant (for knacky details, not ‘where are the kids meant to be at 10am today?!’)
- I love to sift, distil and apply information
- I listen carefully
- I feel with people (far too much empathy!)
- I communicate well in writing
(Hey, I went to boarding school and wrote long letters home to my parents!)
I think I am secretly related to the Meerkat – I am both curious and vertically-challenged, so I’m always standing up as tall as possible to see what on earth is going on…
P.S. A few more things about me are that I own a delightful Dalmatian, I live in Cape Town, South Africa and I love a good Caesar Salad. Alas, my favourite restaurant for that closed down recently, so if you have eaten a great Caesar Salad in Cape Town recently, drop me a mail.