Cobblers Up Close: Ali Weber

Senior Ali Weber is known for her art, and rightfully so, as she is already selling her work. But as always with people, there is more to her than her talent.

By Sarah Thormahlen

If you walk into the room of artist Ali Weber, you’ll find a plethora of artwork, posters, and unique decorations such as a real hawk bone, a “cute little birch stick,” and a sculpture of a torso covered in blood, all hanging from her ceiling. You’ll even find some wisdom teeth lingering on the shelf.

Though still a senior at Central, Ali’s full-time job is art. She often gets asked by businesses if she would paint or draw for their signs. She painted an entire bus in flowers for Mostly Chocolates, creates personal pieces or art and calligraphy for families, created her volleyball teams’ T-shirts, and is always doing random requested pieces for people. She also started painting hydroflasks for anyone who wants one. “Though it’s sometimes hard,” she admits. “Like the other day I got paid entirely in bath bombs, so I can’t really pay my bills with that when I’m an adult. Sometimes people don’t really take it as seriously when it comes to that.” Despite the awkwardness, so far she has avoided any bad interactions with customers. “I have been pretty lucky with that, I haven’t had any real bad experiences. If I know I’m not going to get paid the full amount, or if I know they’re not going to like my style, I won’t do it.”

While getting paid for her work started small, Ali has helped develop it into a bigger deal. “I started doing fun little art pieces for family and friends,” she said, “and after my name got out there I got more and more people coming to me interested in what I do and willing to pay, so I am able to make a full-time job out of it.”

“You just have to draw, and keep drawing.”

Ali has been doing art since as long as she could remember. “I started when I could hold a pencil; I have just always been doing it.” She laughs when she admits how she confirmed her talent: “I realized I was good at it when I started going to school and seeing that other kids weren’t as good at it.” Ali continued to draw to improve herself and enjoys having reference images to help her. “I would look at certain things and teach myself how to draw it, building up a mental catalog of things I can draw in my mind.” When asked how to improve she responds with a simple answer, “You just have to draw, and keep drawing.” She spends at least 15 hours a week drawing. “Reference images help a lot,” she said. “Mr. Gorder always said you have to draw what you see, not what you know.” Ali’s art ranges from little doodles to big projects. When doing little doodles she’s able to go off of her mind or a picture, but with bigger projects that she wants to put a lot of detail into, she will make a grid to include specific details.

Ali leans toward and enjoys portrait pieces the most. “Portraits are my favorite thing to do,” she said. “Anything where the subject is a living thing I think is the most interesting. I tend to go for hyper-realism a lot of the time, which is where you try to make it look exactly like the photo.” With a roll of her eyes she admits, “Things like still life and landscapes are so boring to me, I have to force myself to do it.”

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“River Phoenix” by Ali Weber 

As far as Ali’s favorite mediums to work with, she has always liked drawing. “It doesn’t take much set up and time, all you need is a couple pencils and a piece of paper.” But she also enjoys using oil paint even though it’s a bit more work. “It smells really bad and you have to use paint thinner so that’s not fun,” she said. “They take so long to dry but it’s also a positive because if I get to a point where I need to leave it alone for a couple of days I can come back and it will still be wet and I can fix it. I like oil paint so much because it gives so much room for color options that you can’t get with pencil; there’s a certain . . .” She is laughing as she tries to find the correct word to use, which holds up our interview.  She considers moving on, “Google that later future Sarah…” but minutes later she gets it. “Scratch that Sarah, we got it: opacity you can get with oil paint that you can’t with pencils.”

Ali’s artwork has gotten best in show, best of the west, and best in state.  After high school she plans to stay in state for a year to get her generals done and then go to an art school to pursue an art major. I asked her to explain what she would be doing after she’s done with school, as I didn’t understand how it would work. “Some artists get to the point where they don’t need commission, and that’s all I am doing right now,” she explained. “Ultimately the goal is to make whatever I want to make, and then other people would want it and it will be put in galleries. I’m either going to become a working artist or I’m also interested in restoring paintings because it involves art and chemistry and I’m good at both.” I asked what she would be doing if she weren’t doing art and it was a hard question. “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never thought about that. Art surrounds every aspect of my life so I can’t see myself doing anything else. But if art somehow doesn’t work out, I think being a mortician or a forensic scientist would be cool.”

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“Sadness–portrait of Megan” by Ali Weber

While the majority of Ali’s time is spent on art, she has other interests. She enjoys playing volleyball, watching scary movies, and listening to music. She would never get tired of listening to Green Day: “They’re such a constant in my life, always putting out bops even after 30 years.” And, much like anyone else, she enjoys a Target run, though she enjoys shopping at thrift stores the most. “It’s cool to think about the story behind a tee shirt you get, who it might have belonged to.” Ali also has created a list of 95 (and counting) band names such as Meat Freak, Bad Rudder, Scream Town, Beef to the East, Disco Chaps, Moth Party, and My Ex-Wife Karen. “Nobody is ever going to use these,” she giggles, “but they make me happy so I always keep them.”

“I saw a Van Gogh piece at museum island in Berlin and I was like wow this is what I want to do with my life. I had such a visceral response and stood there for like 20 minutes.”

Ali has two siblings, her older brother, Spencer, is a rhythm guitarist in the band 35th and Taylor and her younger sister, Megan plays the cello. Ali and her sister Megan are always together, “She really is my best friend, I get so sick of her,” she says smiling. “Both of our comedic child’s have evolved together so were always doing stupid, funny things together. We have this voice we always use, it’s like our ‘basic girl’ voice and it’s just so funny,” she says using said voice. “I think my sibling have really influenced me to be more unique. Being funny is also part of having a creative mindset, thinking of things in different ways.” She also brought up the running gag in her family being that they think her dad, John, is a Russian spy. He was born in Japan and can speak English, German, French and Japanese, “He is a sketchy man, we don’t really know a whole lot about him. He’s so smart and just lurks around. There’s just so many things that lead us to believe he is, or was, a Russian spy,” she says laughing

Ali is influenced by artists such as Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. “I saw a Van Gogh piece at museum island in Berlin and I was like wow this is what I want to do with my life. I had such a visceral response and stood there for like 20 minutes.” She compared her brother and music to how she feels about art. He once made Ali sit and listen to a Pink Floyd song and said, “Dude. Just listen, you have to just listen and soak it in. It’s great.” She talked about how people have deeper appreciation and admiration than others for different things, and hers being art.  I asked Ali why she does art and what it means to her, “I just love it, it’s everything. Every aspect of my life revolves around art, I can’t not think about it, it’s in every part of my life.”

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“Boredom–a portrait of Megan” by Ali Weber

Photos courtesy of Ali Weber and her Instagram page.