Alyx Tortorice is a transplant from the East Coast who works as a freelancer and footwear designer for Vans. She is looking to make positive change through quality design and sustainability. Alyx is taking the reigns on the changing surf culture and looking to improve it through her company, Starfysh Wetsuits.
Hi Alyx, for those that don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself and explain a bit what you do?
Hi there I’m Alyx. I grew up in Southampton New York, after high school I transplanted to Laguna Beach California where I began my journey as a graphic designer in the action sports industry. I enjoy surfing, long beach days and sharing ice cream with my dog, Ollie.
Between art, design, and creating products for Starfysh, is there one that you favor? One that occupies more of your time?
I really like working with physical mediums. No matter what project I’m on at the time I like to start by drawing, painting, sewing or crafting with paper. Recently most of my time is focused on Starfysh Wetsuits™. I really enjoy seeing something start as an idea and become a reality.
Do you think that by doing art, design, and running a business, the three strengthen each other within your craft?
Yes, for me the three go hand in hand. I’m constantly finding inspiration from one to bring to the other. I’m not trained in business so that’s been really interesting learning about how it all works. I was lucky enough to find a great business partner, Madeline Javier who handles all the nitty-gritty stuff, which allows me to stay on the creative end of things.
You show a strong ocean/surf influence in your work. Are there any other sources where you draw direct inspiration or influence?
The ocean is a life long love that will always be present in my work. Beyond that I’m also inspired by the fashion world, which includes the rapidly moving textile industry. I can’t wait to see what the future holds in wearable tech and sustainable materials.
Are there any creative processes that you go through, like brainstorming for designs or working through sketching to get to a certain concept?
Most of my inspiration comes from getting out in the world and enjoying life. My best design comes from filling a need that I would utilize.
Of the mediums and crafts you work within, is there one that you prefer?
I don’t think I favor a single medium. I like to start with something hand made, whether it be paint or fabric or found objects then finalize it on the computer.
One of the things that stood out to me on your site was the focus on design as a means to change. I tend to agree with this and feel like good design can really affect the value that people can put on ideas. However, can you please explain when you say that “design can change the world?
Design can change the world. I believe that designing products in the most sustainable way possible is the only option. Finding solutions to the environmental crisis is an important part of design, which includes educating consumers.
You mention the eclectic creative culture emerging in surfing. What about it intrigues you?
The surf industry is in a really interesting position. Big surf companies have infiltrated a wide variety of consumers from avid surfers to those who have never been on a board. This gives designers in the industry a chance to be advocates for sustainability. Small companies are starting to make that change but I hope that the larger ones will be soon to follow.
What were some of the biggest issues that you ran into with networking early on? How did you eventually get through them?
When I first started working in the industry I was so worried about making connections and networking. It’s funny though because the best and most important connections I’ve made has been on the beach or other places where I’m not trying to make them. I’ve found the people who I really want to work with are the people that I want to hangout with as well.
Are there any things that you did initially to get clients for illustration? Are there any marketing ideas you use to attract clients like Vans to your work? Do you thing you bring a certain East Coast grit/hustle to the laid back culture of the West?
For now I’m just really excited to be getting the opportunities that I’ve been able to get which ends up leading to more. Putting yourself out there and staying true to what I’m passionate about keeps things real and moving forward. And yes, I think having a little New York edge doesn’t hurt.
Are there any routines or systems that you stick to in order to keep consistency in your day-to-day Activity?
I like to stay busy, whether it be with a project, a job or travel. If I’m not getting something done I’m not happy. I agree with that saying “being bored is for boring people” there’s always something to do or to be done.
Are there any tools you use to manage your time?
Staying healthy and happy are as important to me as my work. I run, swim or surf almost every morning. I also really love to cook, after a long day cooking a good meal let’s me relax and clear my mind.
Are there any strategies you’re using to promote your work?
Right now I’ve been working on promoting Starfysh Wetsuits™. Instagram is a great place to start and soon I’ll be working with local surf shops to get my product out there.
How do you feel that the work create contribute to the creative culture of the either Coast?
I try to stick with what I know, design from a consumer’s point of view. I want to make products that make people feel great and that keeps their needs and wants in mind while creating the best most responsible product possible.
Do you see yourself taking the The Starfysh brand of your design work in any new directions in the near future?
Starfysh Wetsuits™ is ‘Surfwear Innovation’. I plan to expand into swimwear and other accessories for the surfing woman. Follow @starfyshwetsuits or visit starfsyhws.com for what’s to come!
Any final words?
Thanks so much for having me!