“Some people say I’m a perfectionist but I wouldn’t put it that way. It’s just about getting things done right,” explains Alleyne Gulston.
The 33-year-old Grenadian is co-founder of creative agency AllyDay Creative Projects. After eight years at the helm of a business which has gone on to high-profile clients it would be tempting to settle for being a big fish in a small pond. Yet Alleyne is not content to be great by Grenadian standards.
“We want to show that the talent is in the country,” says the young artist. “You don’t need external businesses to create a design that’s of an international standard, we’re already putting that on the table. Our aim now is to bring in even more regional and international clients.”
You seem to have many creative outlets but how would you describe yourself?
How would I describe myself? Weird (he laughs)! No, I have a wild imagination and I hold it dearly. You could say that I’m like Peter Pan because, in terms of creativity, I really don’t want to grow up. When you get older, because of life you tend to switch to a side that sacrifices part of your character by I don’t intend to sacrifice my imagination.
What prompted you to start an agency of your own?
I was a self-taught designer but I learnt painting from Gordon de la Mothe at GBSS. It wasn’t my life goal but I happened to continue down the art path. We were working for a marketing company and we realised we could do some of the stuff ourselves.
It was around the time that the entrepreneurship boom was taking place in Grenada. We had the idea so we just tried it. The first publication we had was ‘Tastes of Spice’, which was a cookery book which was followed by ‘Rum Stories’ and ‘Lime and Dine’ magazine.
Lime and Dine is eight years old. It’s a visitor’s magazine that’s seen all around and is very popular. Before it helped the business but right now it’s like our personal hobby. We’re our own clients so we can do what we want.
Most of the stories or writings are a team effort. We ask people on the road for their critique and try to fit in for the next edition. We welcome criticism as you that’s part of the way to grow. You can’t really think that your work is the greatest ever.
Listening to your market and helps push the bar a bit higher. It’s a fun project every year. Last year we launched the app for android and apple IOS so we’re growing bit by bit.
In the eight years that you’ve been up and running how would you say that the work that you have done has made a difference in the design field?
I believe we’ve slowly educated people that less is more. That’s something we’ve pushed a lot. You don’t need to put your whole business DNA into a flyer, for example; stimulate your clients’ curiosity. Give them a reason to call you.
We’ve also worked to help raise the fact that there are a lot of creative people here in Grenada. We’ve worked hard to raise the bar up for creativity and give our clients a sense of what quality is. I think we’ve shown that you don’t have to get an external company from say the US or UK – there is talent here.
How would you describe the creative ‘scene’ here in Grenada?
There are a lot of creative people here, especially among the younger generation who are coming onto the scene now. Most of our creatives here are self-taught. Drawing, sometimes, is an escape. It’s a mode of expression, a way of capturing something in a unique way.
What I’ve seen is that there is a lot of talent on the island. Whether it be in woodwork, painting, digital art or motion art – the talent is here, all that needed is for these individuals to get better exposure.
When I was growing up my parents didn’t understand art to be a source of income. Again I have to mention Gordon De La Mothe. He was the first person to help parents to understand that art is not just about doodling on a piece of paper. He got my parents to embrace the form.
When I was going to school none of my textbooks were clean – my exercise books, notebooks would all have some form of drawing on them. It used to cause trouble back then but after he arrived at GBSS I began to see it as another skill that could be developed and his encouragement led me to stick to it. Without him I would have followed my friends into IT or medicine, you know the usual careers.
DO you get a sense that the digital space is giving people opportunities that they may not have had before?
Definitely, the main platform I see now is Instagram. For our local artists, Instagram is the main forum for gaining exposure. Instagram really helps you to push yourself as an artist and to keep drawing. The reason I used the site at first was that I had a drawing holiday; I had a spell in which all I was doing was client work and no drawing for myself.
When I wanted to start back again it was difficult because drawing is mainly muscle memory. With Instagram, I would do a doodle and post it. I like it when people critique my work. I feel better when people share their opinions about my work than when I get a like.
The likes are ok but when someone critiques my work it encourages me to push myself harder, to keep honing my skills and to keep on working towards finding my own unique style.
You’ve been involved as both a judge and a participant in design competitions. What’s unique about the power of art or design in terms of shaping change or influencing the way people perceive or understand things around them?
Before writing there was art; cave paintings et cetera. It’s an easier form of communication. You don’t need translation or anything as an image can speak for itself. It’s a universal language which is why so many people connect with art so very easily. People may say they may not have the talent, but the point of art is to create expression be it negative or positive it doesn’t matter.