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ANNA SWEET INTERVIEW:
I remember coming across Anna Sweet on Instagram. My first thought was honestly, “Wow, cool name.”
But as I looked at her work, I quickly realized she had something more special than simply a cool name.
Here is a bit of her story followed by our conversation.
The Paintings & Photography of Anna Sweet
Anna Sweet’s work is a gorgeous mix of brilliant underwater nude photos that she combines with illuminating minerals and pigments.
I immediately found it clear that she had a keen artistic eye for the relationship between the sensual, flowing curves of the female form and the soothing, calm flow of water. It was that in-your-face kind of apparent realization.
She has taken the two in combination and created a symbiotic marriage between her photos and paint.
Her works are breathtakingly beautiful.
She takes her inspiration from many places. But as you’ll see, it seems to fit her beach, sand and sun lifestyle perfectly now.
For me, it was so easy to get lost in these exotic images of women that she’s photographed in waters around the world.
Sweet’s use of mica, diamond dust, and glass on her images also adds to the radiance and beauty of each figure.
Sweet also has a newer body of work called “Liquid Waves.” These works are inspired by the beaches she’s frequented over the years of shooting underwater.
The “Liquid Waves” body of works are created by mixing resin and a combination of acrylic pigments and minerals.
As you’ll see in the video, the colors are manipulated and moved across wooden art panels to produce a transformational lacing and webbing effect.
She does it purposefully to mimic the ocean’s serenity and abundant, ever-changing and moving life.
The pieces have layers of color and resin. These provide that transformation into a 3D viewing experience for all who see them. It’s as if you’re flying over in a plane or drone looking at the sea from above.
Anna offers custom shapes and sizes as well as surfboards.
Painting Process Video Clip
Anna, thank you for taking time to tell Arts Row readers about your journey and your talent. Let’s start at the beginning.
I know you grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. And that you were raised above your mother’s art gallery. That must have helped you establish a love for the arts.
How did living so close to the arts impact your transformation into full-fledged artist?
I grew up in the attic of an antique store. My mom was a painter and bought and sold antiques to help raise her 9 children.
At the age of fifteen I decided painting took too long and I wasn’t able to capture things exactly how I saw them so I turned to photography.
I traveled to NYC and applied at the School of Visual Arts after obsessing over photography for the previous two years in high school. I was accepted and moved to New York to follow my dreams.
After a year in art school, I quickly came to the realization that I couldn’t afford another year. I began interviewing for internships. For the next few years, I bounced around working for various photographers while balancing waitressing and bartending gigs.
I met a famous musician and we started dating. After a few years of dating, I moved to London to be with him full time.
While in London I got to intern for my biggest influencer, fashion photographer Rankin. Although my internship consisted of anything but learning photography.
While working for Rankin, I was assigned to his kitchen where all the other interns had to sweat out how bad they wanted the job. I worked alongside the chef and many other interns preparing 4 meals a day for the crew and whichever celebrity the studio was shooting that day.
After a few months of 12 hour days slaving over a hot stove I decided if I worked half as hard on my own work as I was working for this studio, I would be on my way in no time.
I quit Rankins’ studio and started trying to develop a series out of some underwater images I had shot a year or so prior. I began experimenting with resin from a body shop. I used different materials such as mica and glass, as well as acrylic paints that I had become so familiar with growing up beside a mother who restored classic artworks for a living.
After a few months I had my first five images and I applied for a London street arts festival. I displayed my works and sold one painting for 300 pounds. This gave me the motivation I needed to begin approaching galleries.
When I returned to the U.S. I lived in Fort Lauderdale near my parents and approached my first gallery in Los Olas called New River Fine Art.
My mother had an established relationship with this gallery for years and was able to get me an interview. They were intrigued by my photography being that it was presented in a way they had never seen before. It had depth, minerals, textures, paintings and resin all coincided to bring each image to life.
They had a show for me as an emerging artist and we sold out. I continued learning and growing my collection, expanding to new galleries from New York to Hawaii.
After 5 years of being carried in galleries across the country I decided to open my own flagship Gallery in Key West Florida in 2017.
Now, the gallery is just about a year old and I am continuing to grow my brand and my work by traveling and capturing new and exciting images to share with the world.
I can imagine this journey has been so exciting and unexpected. Was the move to Florida a natural one for you?
What was the tipping point that led you to make the move? And how does your life in Florida influence your art?
After spending just over a year in London, I came to visit my mother in Miami and realized that day, I couldn’t live in the London climate any longer.
The lack of sun and water had truly affected my mood and sanity. I felt revitalized and refreshed stepping off that plane into the Miami air.
I eventually migrated to Key West after meeting the father of my daughter.
We then moved to San Francisco for a year.
Afterwards, we bought a house on the Big Island of Hawaii. That’s where our daughter was born.
But something was calling us to move back to Key West. So, when Alice was four months old, we decided to come back and open my flagship gallery. The gallery is on Duval Street.
Both a baby and business were born that year.
I recently visited Key West and I can completely understand why you went back. It’s so wonderful!
Your work is weightless and magical. I find it serene and gentle. It’s hard to STOP looking at it.
What artistic purpose is drawing you to both the female form and the water?
I believe artists are a product of their environment and mine just happened to be tropical islands with my girlfriends.
I studied fashion and was always drawn to photographing women, starting with my little sister.
Do you feel that any political or global current events are shifting the way you approach your art form?
I try not to let any politics or outside influences affect my work. I celebrate female beauty as one of God’s greatest gifts.
Did any of your earlier experiences from your upbringing carry over into your current schematic of a weightless or flowing environment?
I grew up with an artist mother and musician father. There was never much holding us down to reality. We got to explore and create our own.
I was always entranced by the movie, Alice in Wonderland (hence my daughter’s name). Alice falling weightlessly down the rabbit hole into her own reality was one of the sparks of my underwater series.
That’s really interesting. I can see that now.
What do your projects embrace as far as schematically? Is it symbolism, sensuality, freedom or a combination?
And what is the interplay between the driving forces?
My images are what I idolize about the power of women… beauty, freedom, fierceness, and sensuality.
Your works show that, truly.
What have you learned from your fans and buyers and how do they inspire you?
I could never have imagined my work would be so well received.
When I sold my first few pieces in the matter of one month I was speechless. I was most excited that I would be able to afford to continue to produce.
I’m often asked to create this or that, but I really stick to what inspires me and what I love.
Is there a message about the world you want your art to bring to life?
Life is beautiful and short. Spend your days being happy and doing what you love. Be playful.
Don’t be afraid to dive into something new. You just might discover a whole new world of happiness.
Some of your work is a hybrid, an intersection of art and photography. How do you interpret this disciplinary style?
The depth of my medium was born from a long 10 year study and being inspired by the art world of NYC.
My friends and I would attend gallery openings, open studios, and museums regularly. I was inspired by endless styles of art and surrounded by kids breaking ground with new “styles”.
From that, I slowly developed my own style. I experimented and continued to try new techniques.
Ultimately, I wanted to bring my images to life.
I found that working with paint and different semi precious materials, I was able to introduce a real tangible quality to the work. It really made the viewer want to reach out and touch each image.
Where do you find your subjects and your ideas? And what are those sessions like with the people you work with?
Ideas tend to come to me during a photoshoot. As much as I try to prepare, there’s nothing like the creative energy that flows while in the moment.
I mostly work with girls that life brings me. Friends, yoga students on a retreat I meet on vacation, and anyone else I come across that inspires me.
At this point I’m trying to find subjects that are different from what I have photographed in the past. I’m currently seeking subjects of different ethnicities than my own.
Do you feel that the power and beauty of the female form as well as the ocean is a canvas that you’ll continue to explore or do you anticipate moving in a different artistic direction?
The beauty of art is it’s always changing and evolving. I believe in never saying never.
I will always be experimenting with new mediums and subjects, but only those that inspire me.
Ultimately, women and water are what I see myself drifting with for quite some time.
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