How I work: Alex Could Hughes

Alex May Hughes' glass creations give the old craft of sign painting a pop-cultural touch. She discusses how she's opting for analog over digital at university, how she discovers London's close community of drawing painters, and why she never tires of paying tribute to the Simpsons

Alex May Hughes is one of those lucky people who managed to create their dream job. While most of her classmates in the London College of Communication's graphic design course were encouraged to move on to digital design, she was determined to find a practice that relied on the use of her hands. Eight years after graduating, Hughes has carved out a niche for herself as a modern drawing painter and glass gilder.

You're just as likely to see Hughes' work on shop fronts in east London as hanging as a piece of art in someone's home, and her series of pieces paying tribute to the Simpsons has caused a sensation on the social Become media. She has also worked on a number of more unusual assignments, including a cover for Stylist magazine and a Penguin remake of The Help by Kathryn Stockett as part of the publisher's Essentials collection.

Here she shares with CR about her mission to keep the art of sign writing alive, find inspiration from everywhere, and why experimentation is the best way to overcome the fear of failure.

Against the grain at university Everything was pretty digital, it was about things for websites and sometimes even apps. I didn't like any of it at all; I didn't enjoy it, I couldn't understand. I spent all my time in the college basement because it used to be the London College of Printing so they have these amazing resources for screen printing and letterpress printing and all sorts of things to get your hands on about. As opposed to trying to learn some software or coding or something like that, you could just put some paint on something and it was there, you did it. I found this really enjoyable and rewarding, and in the future I wanted to do something that would use my hands and spend as little time as possible looking at a screen.