Artist Interview: Illustrator and collage artist Anna Betts

Jun 7, 2010

You know when you come across something fantastic and have that internal gasp? That happened to me when I saw Anna Betts' collages and illustrations on her blog Colour + Sound.  Anna is currently pursuing an illustration degree at the Cambridge School of Art.  And in her spare time, she teaches pottery to kids and scouts for great vintage finds. 

How would you describe your work?

Bright and colorful and quite graphic I suppose. I've never really liked the term "graphic" as it always implied something of the corporate logo, or comic book but it's something I've got over lately. I really believe in a strong sense of design within my illustration and I think white space is really important. I love color and type and am finally starting to enjoy drawing people!

What artist tool/material should every artist know about?

A sharp scalpel. I know this is nothing earth-shatteringly exciting but it's the most versatile tool I use. You can't beat a good cutting-out session and with a new blade, cutting through freshly painted cartridge paper is the most satisfying thing. And of course Photoshop. I don't think you can get by without a firm grasp on those reins.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Starting my degree. It was a huge decision for me going back to education after 4 years of working in the real world. I'd decided to get my BA as I was considering teaching and couldn't do without it any longer, but it's become so much more than that. I now don't know if  I will pursue a teaching career after all as I've come to enjoy making my own work so much. Quitting two jobs and realizing that for the next three years I'd be living off borrowed money was really daunting, but it's the best decision I've ever made. Seeing two of my animations on the big screen at the arts cinema in Cambridge last week was a good moment.

Anna's flat: her first quilt, vintage wares in her cupboard, and homemade truffles.

What are the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

I think one big challenge today is using the internet effectively. Having an online presence is so important to me, not just for bouncing ideas around but for potential income and making a name for myself.  But maintaining your own style when you're bombarded with amazing bloggers, Etsy sellers and Flickr users can be hard. It's easy to feel like you should fit in with current styles and that's why I tend not to follow many illustration-based blogs. For me, being inspired by real observation is what keeps work exciting.

Anna's Etsy shop is full of fun and beautiful works.

If you were to curate an art show, who would be in it?

Ooh, tough question. There are lots of people on my course whose work I love, and exhibiting the results of a week's drawing in Portugal last year was really special. I think these people are great:
Dominic McKenzie , Nikki Gardham, and Andrew Hudson.

And then from the wider world you'd have to look at my Flickr favorites I think. I certainly can't decide! I love Mia Christopher's work and there are lots of amazing illustrators from Spain on Flickr. One day I'd love to curate an exhibition based on the influence of vintage objects. It would require each participating artist to find an inspiring item and make one piece of work relating or reacting to it. The exhibition would combine the original objects and resulting art. I think it would be interesting.

What has been your favorite vintage find?

There are loads, I'm a total hoarder! Yesterday, a sturdy 1960s slide projector. Before that, the blue anglepoise lamp on my desk, the turquoise Poole plates I have lunch on when I work at home, my collection of wooden letterpress blocks, a huge turquoise vintage pyrex mixing bowl, my collection of lidded sugar bowls. The list goes on...

What is your ultimate art fantasy?

Crumbs. I don't know the short answer! I would love to continue working creatively and to make a living from it, but doesn't everybody? More specifically than that I'm pretty open. I think my work would lend itself to children's books and being published would be incredible. Besides that I've thought about what it would be like to design for Paperchase or Habitat making beautiful homewares and stationery, and would love the chance to do some editorial work for newspapers too. I still feel like the world is my oyster. This time next year when I graduate, I'll let you know my decision!

You can see more of Anna's art on her Flickr or Etsy shop.  And, right now, Anna is running a giveaway on her blog!  The lucky winner will get this handpainted milk jug and happy face brooch.


gretchenmist said...

fun interview! lovely photo of anna too :)

Francesca said...

that is such a lovely picture of anna! sweet interview too.

Victoria Whincup said...

I like this.

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