“Life is beautiful and short. Spend your days being happy and doing what you love. Be playful.” ~ Anna Sweet
It was our lucky day.
In an early morning meeting two weeks ago over coffee and agendas, we ran across Anna Sweet on Instagram. We knew we had to find out more about this unmistakeable star. To top it off, there couldn’t be a more perfect name for an artist delivering that kind of eye candy.
At first glance, you’re stunned by the colors in Anna’s works. Then just as suddenly, you’re seduced into a longing stare. And you don’t regret the time you spend sinking into them.
The quick swoon into love at first sight comes from the way she captures the choreographed weightless dance ebbing in front of her lens. In addition, it’s her talented technique of transforming those images into works of art that gained her a spot in the current American art scene.
And if that isn’t enough, be prepared to love her paintings even more. This multi-talented Super Gal is producing her timeless treasured pieces from the beautiful shores of Florida and Hawaii.
This is our interview, a glimpse into her world:
AR You grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina around the arts. This must have established a love for the world of art. How did that influence your transformation into full-fledged artist?
ANNA I grew up in the attic of an antique store. My mom was a painter and she bought and sold antiques to help raise her 9 children.
At the age of 15, I decided painting took too long. I wasn’t able to capture things exactly how I saw them. So, I turned to photography.
Later, I traveled to NYC where I applied at the School of Visual Arts after obsessing over photography the previous two years in high school. I was accepted and moved to New York to follow my dreams. However, after a year in art school I came to the realization that I couldn’t afford it. I began interviewing for internships and for the next few years bounced around working for various photographers while balancing waitressing and bartending gigs. During that time, I met a famous musician and 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. unfortunatley, my internship consisted of anything but learning photography. 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. 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 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, and 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 5 images and I applied for a London street arts festival. I displayed my works and sold one painting for 300 pounds. That’s what gave me the motivation I needed to begin approaching galleries.
AR Since we know now your first sale gave you the validation needed to go out on your own, what was the tipping point that led you to make the move back to the U.S. from London?
ANNA 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 love of my life there. We then bought a house on the Big Island of Hawaii where our daughter was born. But, something was calling us to come back to Key West. When Alice was four months old, we decided to return and open my flagship gallery on Duval Street. Both a baby and business were born that year.
AR How were you able to transition from emerging artist to represented artist to gallery owner?
ANNA When I returned to the U.S. I lived in Fort Lauderdale near my parents and approached my first gallery on Los Olas called New River Fine Art. My mother had a relationship with this gallery for years and was able to get me an interview. They were intrigued by my photography, being it was presented in a way they had never seen before. 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. The gallery is just over 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.
AR Your work is weightless, magical, serene and gentle. It’s hard to STOP looking at it. What artistic purpose is drawing you to the female form and the water?
ANNA 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.
AR Do you feel any political or global current events are shifting the way you approach your art form?
ANNA I try not to let any politics or outside influences effect my work. I celebrate female beauty as one of God’s greatest gifts.
AR Schematically speaking, what do your projects embrace? Is it symbolism, sensuality, freedom or a combination? What is the interplay among those driving forces?
ANNA My images are what I idolize about the power of a woman… beauty, freedom, fierceness, and sensuality.
AR What have you learned from your nearly 100,000 fans and buyers and how do they inspire you?
ANNA I could never have imagined my work would be so well received. When I sold my first few pieces in a 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.
AR Is there a message about the world you want your art to bring to life?
ANNA 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.
AR Some of your work is a hybrid, an intersection of art and photography. How do you interpret this disciplinary style?
ANNA The depth of my medium was born from a long 10 years studying 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”. I slowly developed my own style by experimenting and continuing to try new techniques. Ultimately, I wanted to bring my images to life. I found working with paint and different semi-precious materials, I was able to introduce a real tangible quality to the work that would really make the viewer want to reach out and touch each image.
AR Where do you find your subjects and your ideas? What are the sessions like with the people you work with?
ANNA Ideas tend to come to me during a photoshoot. As much as I try and 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.
AR Do you feel that the power and beauty of the female form as well as the ocean is a canvas that you will continue to explore or do you anticipate moving in a different artistic direction?
ANNA The beauty of art is that 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.
For more of Anna, visit her website.
Want to be interviewed for our “Artist on Deck” segment? Go here and fill out our form telling us about yourself.
Interested in writing for us? We accept guest blog posts. Go here and submit your blog post idea to us.