Popping up in and on Adelaide bars, cafés and walls is the distinctive work of muralist and visual artist Alex Bellas.
The face behind city mural art
Alex’s artwork ranges from 15 metre portrait murals showcasing fresh produce in a basket, to designing tiny (in comparison) abstract people galloping on wine bottles.
She began her career as a muralist and visual artist simply through doodling at the restaurant she was working at, and stumbling across a job advert for a two-storey mural opportunity for an “experienced” artist.
“I sent them the longest email just pitching myself being like ‘Give me a chance,’” Alex says with a dollop of agony.
While far from “experienced”, Alex says her problem-solving skills and give-it-a-go attitude helped her land her that first mural job.
“The first time I painted anything with actual paint was that mural, and it was 15 metres by 10 metres or something — it was ridiculous and just absolutely winged it,” Alex says.
“It sounds so corny but it was pretty euphoric. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is so sick — I need to do more of this.’”
Growing up in a creative family, Alex says her gift for art was nurtured by spending afternoons in her pop’s shed discovering how things work.
“My pop was a carpenter by trade so… he definitely encouraged us to wrap our minds as kids around building and making things and that was actually really special,” Alex says.
“He was always really encouraging of that kind of creative side.”
Alex eventually grew out of her pop’s shed, but has kept his adventurist side by not sticking to a niche or style.
“I know a lot of people say you have to have a niche and you have to do that really well, but I just disagree,” Alex says.
“I love that I’m not in any box. I don’t really have a style and I feel free to just try whatever the hell I want on the next job I get.”
Alex compares her design sessions as “playtime” and gets inspiration from “whatever excites” her.
“I’ll see other artists work, or different things just in life, like whether it’s art or buildings or plants. Every now and then I’ll fall in love with something and be like ‘Oh I’m really into that, I’m gonna figure out how to put that into a mural,’” she says.
“Whatever interests and excites me and then I play — it’s just playtime honestly.”
Like many, Alex has found solace in art and finds mental clarity when her paintbrush hits a wall at the beginning of a new piece.
“Art definitely saved me. I don’t know that I would’ve been able to push through if I was just working any of the other jobs that I’ve had in the past,” she says.
“If I have time apart from painting, I can feel the change in my mental health and then once I get back to a wall and just the first lick of paint I’m like ‘Ohhh’ and I breathe again.
“It’s so cliche to say ‘Oh it’s a form of escape’ but it really is. It’s cliche for a reason, it’s true — so if I can be creating I’m going to be fine.”