Anna Wright is an artist that the team has admired for a very long time. Susie was one of the first people to buy one of her original pieces and when we heard that the artist based between London and Edinburgh was relocating to Winchester, we jumped at the chance to interview her.
Based right in the city centre on the doorstep of the Cathedral, Anna’s studio is flooded with light. Still in moving mode but with big plans, her studio has already got a lovely energy to it and we can’t wait to see what she does with the space and even more, what she creates in it.
Anna, welcome to Winchester! How are you finding it?
I’m really loving it. It’s a 10 minute walk to work which is wonderful. It makes a change from the 50 minute commute on the tube! Winchester is a whole new chapter and I’m really looking forward to it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have some new products in the pipeline. I’ve been working on a calendar that combines illustrations of British seasonal veg along with recipes. So many people love the idea of seasonal and local produce and I thought it would be great to not only mark what is in season and when but give people ideas as to what to do with it. From that series of artwork, we’ve also been creating some new products such as tea towels and trays etc.
What’s your creative process?
I tend to get inspired by nature or I see something that gives me an idea and often do rough sketches and take photographs but then come back into the studio and work on it. When I first started there was a lot of going out and drawing the subject but I’ve not necessarily got the time to do it like that anymore as the business side of things takes up more and more time.
I’d love to travel to Papua New Guinea and see the Birds of Paradise. There’s nothing like seeing something in real like and I definitely want to do more of that but I think I would have to get into a position where I can leave the business side of things in very capable hands first.
Do you call yourself an artist or an illustrator?
I was trained as a fine artist but because I do more products I suppose it has changed a bit. My work is very illustrative especially as it’s pen and ink but sometimes I ask myself, am I an artist or am I designer? Illustrator slash artist slash designer I guess. Definitely my own niche I think.
Many of my contemporaries from art school graduated and took on an agent; from there they would then complete whatever brief was give to them. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to do my own thing.
Is your process as a designer different to that of an artist / illustrator?
When I create naturally its just things I find, things I’m drawn to but when it comes to retail it’s more you have to create a collection with more of a commercial mindset.
Like cards it’s always how many birthday have you got, how many congratulations etc. and I sometimes find it a tricky balance. It’s a slightly different working process and I still find I’m trying to find my feet.
It also took me time to appreciate how customer demands and product limitations have to shape my creativity to some extent and I can’t just let my imagination run riot.
We’ve met you a couple of times at fairs etc. and have always been really impressed that it’s you, out there selling your own work despite your success.
I love doing trade shows as you get to speak to other people who are in the same boat as you, otherwise as a small business you are on your own. It’s a great way of gaining recommendations and picking up tips from other business owners.
Do you find that the push towards being more eco focused has changed your business at all?
Absolutely, it is something we consider all the time. All of our products are made in the UK which is something we are proud of. Our cards until now have been wrapped in Cellulose now but we have been looking at our other options and have decided to go ‘naked’ but with a sticker. It’s a fine line though as sometimes buyers don’t like it.
You often use fabrics and feathers alongside your drawings and this works beautifully both in the original format and the prints, can you tell us a bit more.
My aunt is an interior designer and when I found myself living with her she just had bags and bags of really great quality fabrics. It was a treasure trove and I knew I had to incorporate them into my work somehow. The feathers are just so beautiful and each is unique, I love adding them to my work.
It’s wonderful that you have found your niche and you’ve succeeded with it and your work is really recognisable. What’s next?
I need to decide. There are different paths I could take.
I’d love to get cracking on some new artwork but also I did some fabrics last year that I really enjoyed. I love making pattern. I’m often creating things that aren’t necessarily a print or a card but it would make a great pattern. I really love making the fabrics but it’s whole new ball game; it’s a different market, whole new trade shows and a different space really. You’ll have to wait and see!