An Interview with Artist Anna Koon
Anna Koon’s bewitching artwork is inspiring. Gorgeously painted subjects that are rooted in nature: birds, foliage, leaves and also people, are delicately realised in colourful, earthy tones, met with impressive background textures.
Anna takes a holistic approach, her work is mainly on reclaimed wood. It is this completely natural, cohesive approach to Anna’s art that is so refreshing.
Anna is impressive not only in her artistic talents, she is also an educator. Having years of experience as a small business consultant, Anna runs professional development workshops for small business owners and artists can also book coaching sessions with her.
Anna lives in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. She was born in Boston while her father was attending Harvard Business School, but her family moved South upon graduation. They moved around a lot, so she has lived in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Anna attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Her parents FINALLY settled in her high school years in Atlanta, Georgia, so when Anna visits “home”, she goes there.
You can contact her on her website: https://www.a2n2.net
She is also on Twitter
and you can buy her work on Etsy
Please talk about your creative process, from getting the reclaimed wooden bases to finish…
I started working with wood in general right after graduating from art school. However, I was pretty clueless about my process, so I used huge planks of Plywood, which often warped. I came back to wood only a handful of years ago: A moment of inspiration led me to begin purchasing lots of woodworking scraps off of Ebay. When my Ebay source disappeared, I decided to find a local woodworker. He and I have been working together for a number of years now. He sells me a boxful of scraps as needed. I enjoy the challenge of never quite knowing what I am going to get in terms of size and types of wood. Often the pieces themselves inspire the paintings. I use furniture quality wood. Many of the pieces are gorgeous, works-of-art in and of themselves.
My work is meant to be textural and tactile. I want people to be able to touch it and hold it. The paintings, even the smallest ones, take a lot of time and materials to create. In no particular order, I use pencil, colored pencils, charcoal, inks, pastels, acrylic paint, gouache, oil pastels, and permanent markers. Each layer is sealed. I then use a shellac to protect the painting overall and allow the work to be handled. While most of the paintings do have a hook for immediate wall display (My art comes display-ready so that customers do not have to go through the cost of framing.) a lot of my customers prefer to group a display on a mantle, bookshelf, side table, or desk. In fact, some customers switch out their a2n2 art groupings based on mood, holiday, or season. I love seeing what people come up with! They are just as creative in the process of selecting and displaying their art as I am in creating it!
When did you discover your artistic flair and what was it that led you to pursue an artistic career?
I started making art when I was in diapers. I could not get enough of creating, often filling up my picture books with my own drawings once I ran out of sketching paper. I wanted to be a professional artist, but my father disapproved, telling me in the early years of high school that one cannot make a living as an artist. This is because it was his secret dream to be an architect, but his father (my grandfather) “made” him be an investment banker. Fortunately, my high school art teacher recognized my talent and scheduled a private meeting with my parents to urge them to allow me to attend art school. So it was actually my father who researched the Rhode Island School of Design and contacted the school for an application. I am grateful for my time at RISD, but in those years the school was lacking when it came to preparing students for the “Real World”. I had jumps and starts along the way but did not decide to pursue an art career until 2002. Even then, I continued to pursue a dependable paycheck through my work as a small business consultant until 2013. Finally, I felt it was time to take the leap into full-time creativity. The results of taking that risk and making that choice were immediate. I was soon earning as much as I had as a consultant, if not more, and my business has grown every year since. But most importantly, I find getting to be an artist is a true blessing. The best joy is working with my customers, getting to know them as they grow their art collection.
How and where do find inspiration living in Boston? Do you look for it or does it happen by chance?
I make it a point to walk everywhere. And I do mean everywhere: I often cross the city on foot for two to three hours at a time. Boston and its surrounding communities are wonderfully green, so I interact with nature daily. I also live on ten acres of land that is adjacent to a 260+ acre Arboretum, so there is PLENTY of nature right at my doorstep. Living in Boston means hawks, eagles, songbirds, deer, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, seagulls, turkeys, and swans. I have literally walked with a red fox, been shadowed by coyotes, and exchanged greetings with all sorts of owls. It is easy to forget that I actually live within the city limits!
What can artists expect when they book a coaching session with you?
I find my artists have reached a crossroad in life: They know what they want, but they need some nudging in the right direction. Making art is far more personal than almost every other means of making a living, so I try to bring my years of experience as both a business consultant and a professional artist to the table. The artists are given Next Steps to accomplish between sessions, and each session builds upon the last. It is an honor to come alongside artists in their pursuit of a life and career in creativity. And it is so rewarding for us both when we see the amazing results!
As an artist who has been your influences?
That is a very good question! I love Theodoor Van Hoytema Calendari, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Matisse, Chagall, Klimt (his landscapes are incredible!).
What are your business and artistic goals for the future?
To keep doing what I’m doing with joy and authenticity. As long as I truly love what I am doing, I think the right people will find me. I would love more opportunities to partner with businesses and plan to pursue that with more intention in the future. Right now, I am fortunate to be partnered with Birch Street House & Garden (a gift & home décor shop), Papercuts JP (a book & gift store), Red Door DesignWorks (an interior design team), and Zomar Showroom (a showroom featuring women’s clothing and home décor). But I am interested in expanding my partnerships to other locations.
Fantastic interview and beautiful artwork. Buy Anna’s art on Etsy