Alex Sanso moved to Bainbridge Island in 2007. The journey that brought her here helped define her career and artistic endeavors.
Alex grew up in Culver City, California, in an artistic household. Her father was a professional photographer, gallery painter, woodworker and craftsman. “He was always creating something, and encouraged me in my own creative endeavors, always, as did my mother,” Alex says. As a young girl, she spent her free time drawing and creating with the constant encouragement of her parents.
That childhood creativity led her through a series of amazing jobs and experiences, which eventually landed her on Bainbridge Island to begin a new adventure. In August 2021, Alex opened Island Life Artisan Gifts on Winslow Way, which specializes in a wide array of Bainbridge Island themed gifts and memorabilia.
After graduating high school, Alex knew she wanted to pursue a career in art, and enrolled in art and design school while working at an art supply store. When one of her regular customers offered her a job at his advertising agency, she decided to put school on hold for the time being. “I ended up learning so much from him, and about the business side of design,” she explains. After four years working for her former client, and subsequent years of self-education in various mediums and in digital illustration, she knew what her direction in life would take.
When she decided to leave the Los Angeles area, she headed to San Francisco where she landed a job as a package designer with Dakin, Inc., a stuffed animal toy maker, and later as an art director at Portal Publications. Through a former colleague at Dakin, who was then working for Walt Disney World in Florida, Alex picked up a few freelance jobs and was eventually offered a fulltime position creating art for souvenirs and merchandise at Disney, prompting a move to Florida.
Having never been to Walt Disney World, Alex was amazed with the property and the energy and joy the park offered its visitors. While there, she learned the importance of designing beautiful, high-quality collectibles and mementos, “because even the smallest trinket can become a tangible memory” that memorializes the (often) once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting the park.
Alex had only planned to stay in Florida for two years. However, she met her future wife, who also worked for Disney, and ended up staying for nine years, one of which was with Disney in Tokyo. Her career at Disney led her to a short but successful stint as an art director at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri. After two years there, Alex and her partner decided to move to Bainbridge Island, where they could be closer to family and raise their young son who was about to start school. In 2020 they relocated to Suquamish, yet still maintain the close ties to the Bainbridge community they’ve come to love.
As she states in her Arts & Humanities artist profile on Currents, “From early in my career, I developed a passion for creating art that helps people celebrate and remember the travels, adventures, and special events in their lives—whether a long-planned family vacation to Walt Disney World, or an adventure through a US National Park. I’ve brought that passion home to my own backyard and now share the special qualities of Bainbridge Island and the Northwest through my art gifts and souvenirs, all produced locally.”
Noticing a lack of Bainbridge Island themed memorabilia on the island, Alex began creating unique collectibles in 2013. Her original designs are available in prints (matted, framed and via cards and postcards), mugs, magnets, t-shirts and much more. Almost all of her artfully designed creations are produced locally by Sound Reprographics here on Bainbridge.
Initially, she sold her goods at streetfairs, such as the Bainbridge Island Grand Old 4th event, local island shops, and most recently the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market. From 2018-2021, her collections were sold exclusively at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) Store.
Island Life Artisan Gifts showcases all of Alex’s unique designs and the works of other local artists. It’s an ideal place to find that perfect gift for yourself, for friends and family, or memorabilia of your visit to the island.
In addition to her shop, Alex’s work can be seen and purchased via her website: Alex Sanso Creative.
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ABOUT MARGARET MILLMORE. Margaret Millmore is a supernatural fiction author and blogger, living on Bainbridge Island with her husband, Bryan. Her first published works were flash fiction, The Welcome Home and Untitled – Luke N. Goode, which were featured on Bay Area artist, Kenny Mencher’s blog. In 2011 she published her first full length novel, since then she’s published a three book series, another novel and her current series (via Next Chapter Publishing – formerly Creativia Publishing) What Haunts Me (Ghost Killer Book 1); The Edge of the Cemetery (Ghost Killer Book 2), which was awarded the August 2016 Book of the Month award by Long and Short Reviews; and What Hunts Me (Ghost Killer Book 3). The majority of her books are set in San Francisco where she lived—previous to island life—for over 26 years. Her preferred writing genre is supernatural fiction, with the exception of her time-travel novel, The Dragonfly Door. In addition to her novels, Margaret writes a blog, called The Island Wanderer – which focuses on people, events and businesses on Bainbridge Island: https://theislandwanderer.com/blog/. All her books can be found on her website and her Amazon Author page.