Who says coloring books are only for children? This holiday season, gift your loved ones artist Alli Koch’s new book Heyday, featuring 40 different illustrations, along with bonus velvet coloring pages.
We catch up with Koch, better known as Alli K, following a launch party for the book at Plano’s Stitch Fix, in which she has also painted a mural. Heyday marks the Flower Mound-raised artist’s seventh book, a dream she didn’t imagine she’d accomplish seven years ago, when she graduated with a business marketing degree from University of North Texas.
“When I graduated from UNT, it was like Hunger Games,” Koch tells Local Profile. Everyone I was going to school with was applying for all the same jobs. At the time, it was one of those ‘I didn’t have enough experience, but they weren’t going to give me experience’ type of loopholes.”
Koch began creating art in-between job interviews. She and her now-husband had just moved into their first apartment, and she crafted fixtures, paintings and other works for their space.
“We were broke,” Koch recalls. “So all of my gifts for friends were handmade. I’d make canvases, globes, signs and little things I would find at Hobby Lobby. I’d be like ‘I can make that myself.’”
As Koch continued to gift her friends handmade artworks, her friends would commission her to create gifts for their friends. Making money from her art, she had the idea to launch a business, selling canvas works, drawings and eventually, murals.
When she presented the idea of launching the business to her husband, he was skeptical at first, saying art should remain a hobby for her. Determined to prove him wrong, Koch gave herself six months to make her business profitable.
“Those six months, I didn’t lose money, but I wasn’t really making money. I was breaking even. I was like ‘Okay, this is kind of working. Let’s keep going,’ But I needed to make more money, not just break even.
Koch found her niche in the wedding industry, doing calligraphy for invitations and wedding signage, and painting jackets and other garments for brides and their bridesmaids. Eventually, she grew tired of the wedding industry—but right in time, she received an email from a publishing agency expressing interest in offering her a book deal.
“I don’t know why they asked me,” Koch says, “because at the time, I was looking up to other artists, and seeing that their careers were so established, and that they were drawing these beautiful florals. I was like, ‘Why didn’t they ask them?’ and my dad was like, ‘They saw something in you, they asked you for a reason, you need to take this chance.’ And I’m so glad that I did, because it literally changed my life. And it’s changed other people’s lives as well. What I’m most proud of is that I’m able to create something and put something out in the world that can build confidence in others. I have so many messages of people saying ‘I bought your book’ and ‘Thank you so much for the confidence.’”
Koch takes inspiration from nature, conversations with friends and spending time with loved ones. When she finds herself in a creative rut, she takes time away from her phone and occasionally walks through Target.
She also likes to plan spontaneous lunches with friends and family when she gets overwhelmed with projects.
Her most recent book, Heyday, features floral designs, as well as patterns inspired by the ‘60s and ‘70s, on velvet pages.
“[The word] ‘heyday’ is actually a synonym of ‘bloom,’” Koch says. “It also refers to the good old days.”
Since releasing her first book, How to Draw Modern Florals, Koch has gained recognition both locally and worldwide. She has several murals in Dallas-Fort Worth, including her most famous mural under the Katy Trail bridge in uptown Dallas, which utilizes live moss, as well as other murals in Knox-Henderson, Garland and Punch Bowl Social in Deep Ellum.
Koch recalls a time prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when she and her husband were vacationing in Rome, Italy, and she was approached by someone who owned one of her books. Making an impact in people’s lives, no matter how near or how far, keeps Koch inspired to create more works of art.
“There’s something about someone sitting down with a book,” Koch says. “It’s a personal moment. I really pride myself in writing my books to where people read them and read the instructions. It feels like I am sitting in the room with them. I can’t physically be there, but I want you to feel that I’m there and I want you to feel that I’m cheering you on.”
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Also, catch some live music at these hot spots in McKinney!