Willa Heart artwork - one of each please!
There are some light-bulb moments when you see a piece of artwork and it makes your heart sing. Alyssa Jill Harris, creator of the brand Willa Heart, is one to inspire those moments. Her whimsical paintings connect with so many people in joyful ways. I am happily one of those people.
After following Aly for a while on Instagram (props to daughter and dad duo Gunner & Lux who found her first!) I worked up the nerve to reach out and see if she would be interested in a collaboration, because if I was sure of one thing it was that those cultivated animals she paints would look fabulous on children's clothing. I'm so glad she said yes, because she's as much fun to work with as you would guess from her Insta Stories. To celebrate our Spring 2019 collection, Aly indulged me by answering eight questions for our blog.
Alyssa Jill Harris in her element
Do you remember your favorite outfit as a child? Why did you love it?
I have always been fashion obsessed. My mother let me start shopping for myself and dressing myself as soon as I was old enough to tell her what I liked. She gave me full reign & it was the late 80’s / early 90’s so we are talking lots of unitards & patterns galore.
My go-to was a wild legging & a matching top. Fortunately my sister was able to find a perfect example. I am also wearing the shoes I referred to as my best friends and would wear everyday. They were always so dirty and I would buy a new pair when I would grow out of them Yes, they are rhinestone Moccasins and if they made them in my size now, I would buy them and wear everyday.
Aly in her OG OOTD
What was your favorite book as a child?
This is a hard one because I am dyslexic and wasn’t able to read until I was a lot older. Since I couldn’t read, I was always very focused on the pictures in the books. My favorite illustrations were by Dr. Seuss & Shel Silverstein because they always captured what was happening in the stories, in their drawings. It felt like I was in on it (it being the story) even though I wasn’t able to read the words.
What artist do you most admire, living or dead? If you could own one piece of their work, which would it be?
There are so many artists that I absolutely adore and would love to own pieces by but I think I have to say Gloria Vanderbilt. I know this is kind of random but am obsessed with her paintings & collages from the 70’s. They are unreal! Her use of color is genius and she would design these luxe rooms around the art in her home.
Gloria Vanderbilt in her living room; one of her paintings at left.
In what medium do you work? How did you evolve into this medium for your signature style?
I work with acrylic paint on paper. I took a long break from painting after college and when I started again, I was using watercolor. Watercolor is very unforgiving and you have to let it do what it wants. I am a bit of a control freak and was fighting the paint. It showed in the paintings, they weren’t light and airy like a watercolor painting should be. So, I sent a photo to my best friend and she was like, why don’t you try acrylic.
Light bulb moment, I tried acrylic and haven’t looked back.
If you could invite any 5 people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you invite? What would you serve for dessert?
Kris Jenner because that lady knows how to run a business and I want all of the advice.
Martha Stewart because someone needs to cook & set the table.
Oprah because its Oprah!
Lady Gaga I just love her music & I feel like she would be a super fun dinner party guest. Also, she could perform between dinner & dessert while we digest.
My husband, Tim because he would kill me if I got to meet Lady Gaga without him. Also, he will remember all of the advice Kris passes along and he could help Martha if she needs anything.
As for dessert, I will need to defer all food related questions to my caterer Martha.
Martha effortlessly prepping Aly's dinner party.
Did you make art as a child? How did the people around you encourage you to explore/develop your skills?
I did! I come from a long line of crafty ladies and my father can make and build anything. He is also the world’s best doodler.
My sister is 3 years older and an amazing artist! She taught me how to draw & every friendship bracelet stitch; every gimp stitch (sometimes called lanyard?) and I would make them all day everyday. I still can make crazy huge gimp tornado key chains and intricate friendship bracelets.
Since I am dyslexic, the schools I went to for my learning disability had amazing art programs. People with dyslexia are super creative and the schools wanted to nurture that. My mother also picked up on my love of art and put me in any art class she could find.
What are your all time top three favorite movies? Why?
The Royal Tenenbaums All Wes Anderson movies are pretty perfect. They are absolutely stunning (the sets, the costumes, the people!), the music is always perfection and they are hilarious! He is just so clever.
Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola – I need her to make way more movies… keep em coming! Pastel colors & female leads please.
The Austin Powers movies. They are so funny and make me super happy. Plus, they are eye candy. So much color and who doesn’t love the swinging sixties?
Who are your top three style icons of all time? What do you love about each?
Iris Apfel She is 100% authentically herself.
Bianca Jagger I mean she showed up to Studio 54 on a horse, talk about making an entrance! She is so beautiful and her style is timeless.
Debbie Harry in the 70’s! She was a bit punk but also so beautiful. She is fun to look at.
This is actually a ninth question: are you on Pinterest? Can we follow you?
I am and I would love for you to follow me! You can find me on Pinterest as Willa Heart:
Other inspiring places to find Aly:
And, of course, right here:
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Which is your favorite of Aly's current pieces? Let us know in the comments what your Willa Heart wish list is - and who you'd invite to your five person dinner party! Would you let Martha Stewart cater it?