Hello! I'm so glad you're here.
Today we're chatting to Alessia Bortesi - the Tomato Queen and the creative fire cracker behind @dodlessi. Alessia is from Barcelona, Spain and If she is know for one thing, it is her kind, inclusive and colourful personality that is reflected in everything she creates. Alessia currently studies Industrial Design Engineering at Elisava and runs her @dodlessi empire in her spare time (but it should be noted that she never sleeps).
Continue reading to get to know Alessia!
Z: So 2020 was a super tough year for everyone, so how are you doing? Did you have any highlights? (it's okay if you didn’t!)
A: A highlight was creating my account and allowing myself to explore my more creative side!
Z: Your page is absolutely THRIVING and has completely blown up, congratulations, i'm so proud of you! @dodlessi is definitely becoming its own cool little brand now which is super exciting. Did you ever expect your page to get this big? Did you have a goal to grow your page or was it initially just for fun? How are the people you know/friends/family responding to your success?
A: Thank you! The support I’ve received with @dodlessi has been SO surprising to me because i honestly started it as a drawing dump! I remember reaching 500 followers and being like mom, dad, I’VE MADE IT, so you can imagine my surprise when i reached 1k and then eventually 10k! My page was 100% started just for fun and i’ve never made the switch to business mode so i think that’s why a lot of people who follow me feel like they know me so well, cause I’ve always kept it very casual. My family is greatly surprised and proud of my success and they’ve been there every single step of the way! As for my friends they’re also very impressed and they now even like to appear on my stories sometimes! I think no one expected this would happen when i started out so that’s why it’s been so exciting!
Z: You’re currently an Industrial Design Engineering student which is super impressive! Do you enjoy it? I know you've mentioned that your art page is a creative outlet for you, do you see your degree harmonising with @dodlessi in the future?
A: So far I enjoy it a lot! The university i attend focuses a lot of time into the more practical aspects of the degree so its very project based, which allows you to dive head in to the more fun and interesting things about the degree. Funnily enough i switched last minute to this major because i was going to go into graphic design, but the engineering degree looked interesting so i went for it! So i 100% see my degree harmonising with @dodlessi in some way or another, i still don’t know how but I’m sure it will eventually merge!
Z: Okay so, what inspired you to start @dodlessi? If this pandemic didn’t exist, would you still have started your page? Has starting a business always been your dream and goal?
A: I started it because I’ve always had a passion for graphic design, but I didn’t go into school for that and I felt like i needed to be doing more art related stuff in my daily life. So in a way the lockdowns offered me more free time that allowed me to start doing more art. Without the pandemic I would’ve definitely done artistic stuff on my own but i would have never gotten to where I am without it for sure.
Z: I completely agree that the lockdowns were the perfect enablers for creatives to make the leap that they've always wanted to make. You started with drawings, you make gifs and you've recently expanded into creating fonts and filters as well - tell me about these! What inspired you to start dabbling in more technical creations? Did you teach yourself?
A: I consider myself a very techie person so it only made sense that i’d eventually start playing around with all that! I started with gifs cause i submitted my channel to be verified by Giphy which would allow me to upload them to instagram, and once they accepted it i started making illustrated gifs which got such a warm welcome by everyone! As for font making, I’ve always been a type freak and even dedicated a year long project in high school to researching about it, so i was obviously destined to eventually try it out. The first one i made, the Tomato font, was honestly made as a way to be able to add type into my designs without having to handwrite it every single time, and people liked it so i released to the public for everyone to be able to purchase! I then started to work on more because a lot of people wanted more fonts and i now have a total of 7 fonts on my etsy! And finally the filter thing kinda just happened by mistake! I wanted to try it out just for fun and tried making a very simple game, but when it actually worked correctly and looked cool i decided to post it to instagram and I got such a great response from everyone and people asking for more filters, so thats exactly what i did! And yes! Everything i’ve done has been self taught with the wonderful help of my best friend: YOUTUBE.
Z: I’m so glad you accidentally started making them because they’re so fun. After the main quarantine period, there was a drop in the number of active accounts in the community as people returned to their jobs/found employment/resumed everyday life. So when the world finally returns to "normal," do you see yourself continuing on with your page?
A: I have this page as more of an entertainment rather than a business so personally I think i will! I maybe will just adapt it to more my lifestyle as well as my art if people are interested in keeping up with me after covid. I would also love to expand to physical products but as of now that has to be put on hold.
Z: I really admire your ability to pre-plan, i would say that's helped a lot with your posting schedule (which is pretty consistent!) Like most creatives, you've been basically at this with no break for close to a year now. Do you ever experience waves of burnout? If so, how do you get through it?
A: I fortunately haven’t had any major waves of burnout with my art so far and fingers crossed that it stays that way! Since i pre-plan a lot (control freak in me takes over) even if one day I’m not feeling the most inspired I have something planned that i can work on always! The times that I’ve had more uninspired days i've always turned to music to get the creative juices flowing and it usually works out very well for me! I try to avoid going on Pinterest when i’m feeling burnt out because i end up comparing myself with other work that I see on there and that's not good for anyone. Watching good movies can also get me inspired or at least help me come up with some random idea! Also, since there’s so many things i do now, maybe i’m feeling uninspired to create an illustration but i’m in the mood for making a font or filter, so i have to just think about what i’m the mood for to get our of that creative rut!
Z: That makes sense! Do you have a specific creative process when it comes to your work? What does it involve?
A: I go into these super intense photo searches like once a week or every two weeks where I just try to find photos i would like to potentially illustrate. I then mock up my feed and once I’m happy with it I start illustrating! I need to be listening to music or some sort of podcast while doing it to get the creative juices flowing.
Z: Okay let’s talk about the world outside of art! What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: Listening to music! My spotify handle is alessiabortesi and i’ll GLADLY share my latest playlist which describes me as of Jan 2021 HERE. I love watching movies and tv shows. I have so many movies i LOOOVE and always go back to and i would say my top 3 movies i`ve watched on several occasions and enjoy equally as much: Mamma Mia (1,2 they count as ONE movie), Ferris Bueller’s Day off and I’m a sucker for High School Musical 2.
Z: Well you have great taste, can’t deny that, what would you say your all time favourite food is?
A: i looooove eating with people and just having great conversations. Asking me what my favourite food is would be like asking a parent to pick their favourite child. It’s a close call between sushi and anything with my grandmas tomato sauce on it (especially spaghetti) for me.
Z: Having meaningful conversations is super important to me as well and i'm glad that even though we can't physically see each other at the moment, we still have the ability to communicate with technology. You are a super social person, have you experienced any moments where you feel down due to lack of physical social interaction, if so, how are you feeling? Does virtual interaction fill the social voids for you?
A: I am not gonna lie, i enjoyed the peace and quiet for a while but now i’m ready to go back to physical social interaction. I live with my family so all throughout lockdown i had physical contact with them and i almost daily facetimed my friends so even though i couldn’t physically be with them i talked to them so much it almost felt like we had been together! I do want to go back to being able to sit down at a coffee shop and stay there for hours. I also think having my account made me feel less alone because i got to meet so many amazing people on there who i talk to daily! So i think virtual interaction did help a lot with maintaining and creating new friendships!
Z: What’s something that no one knows about you? (If you’re comfortable sharing)
A: I have a strong feeling about SPOONS they need to be a certain size for me to be comfortable with using them :) (expose me for the psycho i am zinnia)
Z: I’m actually dead, i would love to know the context to that but okay, what’s your favourite story about yourself?
A: In the summer of 2019 my friends and I went on an Interrail through Europe to celebrate our graduation, and all was well until we arrived to the hotel in Berlin. We go to check in and the lady working the front desk tells us she only has a room for 3 people reserved from us (keep in mind we were 7 PEOPLE) but we had the reservation confirmation so i knew that was just not true. As a very type A virgo I saw this woman as a disruption to our itinerary so something needed to be done. I was not having it after being on a train for 6 hours so I left my bags on the floor and went OFF on that poor woman. I remember nothing of what I said to her cause i was so in the heat of the moment but I VIVIDLY remember my friends dying of laughter while i ranted to this lady who could frankly barely understand me. But long story short the room mysteriously appeared and i strongly believe my rant to that woman was why.
Z: Ah so you're THAT friend haha. Speaking of travel, the #dodlessibucketlist was an iconic era for your page - what are some of your top travel destinations once the pandemic ends?
A: The bucket list was my first big theme on my account so i do love it very much. At this point i'll go anywhere and everywhere because i miss traveling a lot. But my top destinations would be Australia, Hawaii seems fun too, anywhere in the US to meet my ig art pals irl, Iceland has always looked VERY appealing to me, Greece obviously because i need to recreate the Mamma Mia movies, somewhere in South Africa, and NZ *wink wink*
Z: Yes yes come to me. Once 2020 is over! (I’m going to continue referring to this year as 2020 because it feels like the 13th month opposed to a new year right now). What’s something that 2020 has taught you?
A: To value your strong friendships and to not be afraid to just try something out cause the worst that can happen is that you fail
Z: And what are you manifesting for 2021?
A: Getting accepted into an exchange program in Australia for 2022.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Alessia!
You can find Alessia on:
Instagram: @dodlessi Etsy: Dodlessi