Anna Low…We Just Know that she’s Colorful!

Anna’s was one of the first applications we got for a class back in February…and her pictures…they scream of an abundant,  organized, beautiful, creative life just waiting for you…if only you’ll learn to bind a book!

Anna’s teaching Buttonhole Bookbinding on Saturday from 9:00-11:00.  She recently sent us these answers to our interview questions:

If forced to choose, would you be an eraser or a permanent magic marker?

If forced to choose between being an eraser or permanent magic marker, I’d have to light heartedly pick magic marker. Who could pass up being magic?!?

Do you live with any animals?

Dingo dog is my studio companion. He’s a great observer of binding techniques, an exceptional napper, and reminds me to take breaks and daily walks.

What are you currently reading?

This summer I’m alternating my reading list between fiction and non-fiction. I just finished a book about the history of evolution (‘At the Water’s Edge’ by Carl Zimmer) that was fascinating. It gave me a new appreciation for the natural world and our role in it. Now I’m on to the fiction book – ‘Pride, Prejudice and Zombies’ by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. The last time I read Jane Austen was under duress in high school with a bad grade hanging over my head, and I can’t say I’m a big fan of zombies. But now I’m 100 pages in and have to find out who Elizabeth marries and how many ‘sorry unmentionables’ she dispatches. The next book on my nightstand is ‘Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture’ (Ellen Ruppel Shell) which seems topical and relevant for an artist trying to survive in this economy and market her wares.

What is the most surprising response to your art you have ever received?

The most surprising response to my art is not really fit for print and will only be shared over a nice glass of beer, but for publication I am often surprised at peoples’ lack of confidence in their own creativity. I strongly believe all of us are creative and have our own unique expression to share with the world. I like to point out to people who claim they are not creative that they just haven’t recognized where their artistry comes out, whether it be cooking or gardening, business savvy, writing or even witty joke telling. Being creative, which I express by making objects, is such a big and rewarding part of my life. I love to share it with others and to help them celebrate their own creativity. This is one of the main reasons I make journals – to inspire people to fill them with their creative thoughts or drawings.

How do you know when your work is done?

One of the reasons I love bookbinding is because it’s a wonderful marriage of function and art. I keep working on books that need design improvements. If the book isn’t functioning well – for example, pages aren’t laying open well or a closure isn’t working – I keep working on the design. In terms of the artistry, my work is never done. One book always leads me to the next. There is always a new binding to try, a new color combination, a new material to use, a new book form to test out. I sometimes have to tell myself projects are done, but happily they always stir up new ideas.

What do you listen to while you create?

I have a month’s worth of playlists named after the days of the week. Monday mixes are usually loud, energetic, and bubblegum – Ok Go, They Might Be Giants, Green Day. Tuesdays are classical – Bartok, Sibelius, Schubert, Holst. Bluegrass and girly often fit Wednesday – Elana James, Erin McKeown, Lily Allen if I’m sleepy. Thursday is a toss-up – REM, Beck, James Brown, disco. Friday is always loud and obnoxious (to keep me working for the weekend) – usually rap. I also love listening to music in other languages, especially when I need to concentrate on the task at hand.

Why do you (knit, quilt, spin, carve, design…)?  What is your purpose?

I bind books primarily because I love it. I’m also a photographer, and I really enjoy creating images, but bookbinding had the added bonus of being functional. Not that I don’t think creating beautiful, witty or contemplative photographs doesn’t serve a function, but making objects that people can hold and use is very appealing.

If you could give advice to anyone aspiring to work with fibers, what would it be?

My advice would be to have the fortitude, courage and convictions to follow your own artistic vision. In a world where almost everything is mass produced and cheap, it’s sometimes an uphill battle to present unique, handmade objects – both for people to accept them and for an artist to sustain themselves with them. I think incorporating and responding to criticism (i.e. market trends AND helpful suggestions) in your art is important, but the inner voice that drives an artist to create has to be loud, strong and at the forefront of any creative act.

When it’s time to “tap” your creativity…where do you go to get the juices flowing?

My inspiration comes from many places. There is a rich history of bookbinding that spans cultures and looking at different book forms and their functions are very inspirational. There is also a strong and varied community of bookbinders out there, making everything from photocopied chap books to beautifully illuminated leather volumes. Their work inspires me as well. I’ve also discovered that one of the best ways to get my creative juices flowing is to give myself time and space to let my mind be quiet and wander, which for me often involves spending time outdoors gardening, camping or hiking.

How many projects do you generally have going at one time?

Projects in my head or physical projects? The projects I’m scheming about and working on in my head is endless. I might worry about my career as an artist if they weren’t. The physical projects on my desk are limited. I get a lot of satisfaction from checking off my ‘to do’ list, so I have to remind myself to keep the projects manageable and aim for some form of completion. In general I have 3 or 4 projects going on at a time. Sometimes it feels great to be focused on just one.

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