Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Every year, we use the first week of May to thank those who have taught us so much. At Skillshare, that means an incredible community of creative instructors who have helped us unlock the best of our creative selves, challenged us to go further, and given us the tools to approach our craft in new and exciting ways.

Every day this week, we’ll be highlighting a teacher from our community. Today, meet Alanna Cartier, a self-proclaimed “artist, illustrator, collector of cookbooks, mother to one fat cat, and cultivator of genius hair.” Alanna’s many classes on Skillshare have drawn thousands of students who love the incredible approach she takes to acrylic gouache, taking better photos of art and illustrations, painting mittens, and even painting teacups.

Learn with Alanna Cartier

Take Better Photos of Your Art and Illustrations | Skillshare Staff Pick

Meet Alanna Cartier

I’m Alanna and I’m an artist and illustrator from Toronto, Canada. I grew up in a small town, then moved to the big city for University. I live here now with my fat cat Penelope and my regular-sized husband Sam. I started my illustration journey in 2017 and decided not to go to art school because I wanted to create my own path. 

How did you start working on your craft?

alanna cartier

My illustration journey started back in 2017. I had always made art (very intermittently), but I had never considered myself any good at it. At that point, I was working on a website for my dinner party club in my spare time, and I was enjoying the process so much that I was spending whole weekends on it. That’s when I realized it could be a potential career if I just put in the work. I started tricking the people I love (my sister and my best friend) into joining me for paint dates over Skype so I could start making art more consistently. Everything blossomed from there. I joined an art collective in 2018, which I now help run, I started teaching with Skillshare at the end of that year, and I officially quit my day job in healthcare regulation in 2019. 

Where do you go for inspiration?

My first and greatest love books, so when I need a bit of inspiration that is where I turn. Right now I’m reading a history of graphic design to broaden my skills, and binging beautiful children’s books so that I can embark on my own picture-book journey. Two of my current favourites are All the Ways to be Smart by Daria Bell and Allison Colpoys, and Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault. 

Finish the sentence: I feel most creative when _______

I have time to myself, which has been particularly hard over this past year. I’ve had to find ways to find a little calm and quiet (think long baths and noise-canceling headphones) so that I can show up at my art desk ready to create. 

“My absolute favourite part of teaching is watching my students overcome the same fears I’ve had to overcome.”

What’s your favorite part of teaching?

My absolute favourite part of teaching is watching my students overcome the same fears I’ve had to overcome. Being an artist is so vulnerable, and requires so much courage, every time you sit down to create, and especially when you are sharing that work online. I want students to come away from all of my classes feeling a little less afraid, and hopefully even empowered to create and share their work. Nothing brightens my day more than a student telling me that I gave them the courage to submit their first-ever Skillshare project or the confidence to start an art Instagram account to share their work with the world. 

Can you tell us about an influential teacher in your life, and what you have taken with you from them?

The teacher that comes to mind first is my seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Bechard. He put me in a special advanced group for English, and it made me feel seen and valued. He also let me pretend I was helping with high-jump so I wouldn’t have to do track and field day. I hated track and field day. He reminds me of the power we hold as teachers, to validate our students, lift them up, and make them feel safe and seen. 

Artwork by Alanna Cartier

Anything you’d like to plug?

I’m so proud of my newest Skillshare class: Acrylic Gouache Adventures: Getting Started. I love acrylic gouache so much, and I want to enlist as many people to my unofficial acrylic gouache fan club as possible. If you want to keep up with my work you can follow me on Skillshare, find me on Instagram at @AlannaCartierIllustration or sign up for my newsletter at www.alannacartier.com

Learn Acrylics with Alanna

Acrylic Gouache Adventures: Getting Started | Skillshare Staff Pick