A day in the life of the illustrator Alex Sears aka ‘Death and Milk’
Death and Milk is the pen name for the illustrator and musician Alex Sears. Alex is 28, he lives in Bath and he wasn’t expecting to become an illustrator. For a while, most of his creative energy went into being the frontman of the successful band Decade. He took up drawing as a fun challenge, a way to relax and pass the time and then his drawings started gaining a following however when he put them onto some of his band’s merch. He started sketching more and more, putting his illustrations onto t-shirts, pins, and eventually in a collaboration with Ball & Chain Co. black embroidered silk bombers that rival Ryan Gosling’s scorpion jacket in Drive.
The name Death and Milk is the perfect pseudonym for Alex’s style. His drawings are striking and pared back, mostly done in black and white. The minimalism of his style is a brilliant contrast for the black humour of the subject matter- death and love, skulls and rats and roses- like a Shakespearian tragedy made modern and rendered in a few sketched lines.
We caught up with Alex on his way to Germany on tour with Decade to ask him what a day in his life as an illustrator looks like.
How would you describe your work?
My company is called Death & Milk. My work mostly consists of macabre-themed contemporary illustration and t-shirt design.
How did you get started?
My ex flatmate Hannah is an excellent illustrator/painter and inspired me to pick up a pen for Inktober in 2015 (you basically have to draw something random for each day of October). This was two years ago and I’ve drawn pretty much every day since.
Do you have a daily routine? Can you describe it for us?
My daily routine usually involves black coffee, a dog walk, a couple hours making drawing references, an hour or two of crippling self-doubt, then a bit of drawing and editing.
What keeps you going every day?
The fact that my work never turns out exactly the way I saw the initial concept in my head. It’s that disappointment that drives me to do a better job next time. I also need to fund my toast habit.
What are the main challenges that you face in your work?
My main income is the sale of t-shirts on my website and I think the main challenge for me is to choose designs of mine that’ll translate into t-shirts. Some of the pieces look good displayed on my Instagram page or whatever but may not work as a t-shirt graphic (they might be too detailed/the wrong shape etc). I’ve made bad decisions in the past regarding designs and have ended up only selling a handful of an entire run. I still have a load of them under my bed!
What three pieces of advice would you give anyone wanting to do similar work?
Practice every day, don’t copy other people, don’t buy fake followers on social media.
What would you like to work on next?
I’d love to get back into print making. I used to do it back in the day but quickly moved onto t-shirts since my customer base at the time were asking for clothing. I think given the nature of my work now it’ll translate nicely into print.
You can see more of Alex’s amazing work on his Instagram Death and Milk.
New items for sale on his website soon. You can also find some of his pieces on Ball & Chain co.
More more about Alex’s band Decade here– including great merch designed by him.