It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of our 2017-2018 cycle of our Individual Arts Partnership (IAP) and Jade Presents Arts Partnership (JPAP) grantees! Before we reach the end, though, we still have a few more highlights of grantees from the last year. Our August grantee highlight is local artist Anna Lee of Workerby!
Anna Lee is a Minnesota-based designer with a heart for community and a mind for industry development for independent fashion and the arts. A lifelong connector, creator, and learner, she has helped other designers and artists expand their creative endeavors through programs such as Voltage: Fashion Amplified, MNfashion, MNfashion Week, and most currently Workerby workshops and mentorships.
Workerby (pronounced worker-bee) encompasses all that Anna does in one 800 square foot studio. It is there she balances client design work, Ruby3 hats, painting, develops new workshops for creatives, and collaborates with likeminded souls who share her vision for a life made better through creating new art together.
Anna Lee received a grant from us to create a collection of 12 hand-embroidered straw hats and paintings to accompany them.
Here are some questions we asked Anna to learn more about her creative process:
Beyond other designers, what sources inspire your work?
Live music. Travel. Conversations and collaborations with talented, ambitious friends.
What is your daily creative work schedule?
I have several facets to my business, some right-brained, some left-brained. So a consistent yet flexible schedule is imperative to my productivity. It’s taken a while to develop, but I have my routines that I commit to when I arrive to the studio to work. I even have a playlist I’ve compiled that gets my head in the right place…although I am surprised by some of the songs that ended up on there. I never expected that Mötley Crüe would one day motivate me to focus on my art, but the universe works in mysterious ways.
How do you approach the beginning of a project?
I do a ton of journaling and visualizations to build the framework. Usually, it is not that I am sitting in front of a blank canvas; it is that I am sitting in front of a big idea that involves many elements and other artists and professionals. Once I build enough of the framework, I start talking about it to my collaborators or confidantes, which helps me work out the next layer of details. By the time I get to the hat form or blank canvas, I have the project coursing through my veins and things tend to come together. I’ve “messed up” enough to know that it tends not to ruin the project, but just evolve it a bit (or a lot).
What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
How many new ideas and projects is this going to lead to?
What do you do when you get stuck?
Procrasti-working. I will just go do something else and come back to the issue when I am in a different mood or frame of mind.
How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
Creating art is often a solitary endeavor. We need community to survive. We need deep connections with community to thrive.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
Do the work every day. Take time to rest and reflect. Connect with your peers. There’s always more to learn, more to create, more to say with your art.
If you had a chance to do it all over again, how would you do things differently?
Worry less. Ask better questions. Get to know the signs of burnout much earlier.
What was the most discouraging feedback you ever got?
I had a few moments in my youth where a couple of people who thought they had my best interests in mind warned me of the dangers of moving to a big city for school or trying to “make it” in a creative field. It really set me back in what I thought was possible. I have much more “Oh yeah? Watch me prove you wrong,” in me now. Not because of the discouragement, but in spite of it. It makes me sad to think about how many young people have their perfectly-reasonable-yet-ambitious aspirations squashed by someone else’s fear or ignorance.
What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got?
When my friends/collaborators see the first stages of my next project and ask how they can get involved, I know I am on to something.
What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
I’ve been a lot of things in between the time of wanting to be an artist when I was in college and feeling confident enough call myself an artist today. Costume designer, event producer, executive director of a non-profit, technical designer and designer in the fashion industry, career coach, fashion show producer, educator, energy healer….often a combo of several of these at any given time. I spent enough time during that 18 year period thinking I couldn’t be an artist, so I figure I might as well just go ahead and be an artist.
Thanks for enlightening us about your process, Anna!
Be sure to keep an eye out for Anna Lee’s upcoming installation of Gray Matter Series: Sense of Self, launching 1-3 p.m. Saturday, September 15 at Luna Fargo. We’ll have a blog about this specific installation in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
More information about Workerby is available on workerby.com.