July 26th, 2017
Jesse Gussow


I’m always on the lookout for wicked art to share on our Facebook and Instagram pages. One day I saw this piece on Instagram that I just loved. It was a profile shot of a woman’s face with white hair and a black toque, with the word Feminist. I thought it was wicked and the perfect embodiment of the movement. I shared the image on our pages and it was very well received. Since then I’ve been following the work of the creator of the piece, artist Anna McKay, and her work is just top notch. Her work is so beautiful and bright and powerful. I enjoy seeing her posts every time she’s created something new. I just love seeing her work and imaging how it would look in a frame in my home.



Where are you from?

New Zealand! It’s a pretty cool, mellow country. I love it.



How did you get started on your artistic journey?

Sort of a happy accident. I always loved art but found my way back to it after a few years of university and some dabbling in graphic design. This prompted me to explore digital illustration and develop my style.



Why is art important? To society and to you specifically?

Art can say so much. It’s awesome. I love politically focused art; art with a message. Especially on topical issues like feminism and racism. (Shame they are still topical). I also love how art can just look amazing and be there to stimulate our senses from an aesthetically-minded view point. It’s important to me personally as it helps me relax and just get out some of my creative energy. I use poetry/writing to express more political/philosophical ideas I carry, but art is just fun and leaves me with a nice feeling of satisfaction - I love how 30 minutes ago there was nothing and suddenly you’ve made something, better still, something someone could deeply fall in love with and look at every day! How cool is that, really?



How would you describe your style?

Refined, smooth, vibrant. Unique.



What is you process for making a piece from start to finish?

With basic portraits I find the right reference then use Adobe Illustrator to make it in my style. Then I add shapes or colour blocks to complete the work and make it look finished. With more creative artworks I’m a lot looser with the reference and often use a few different reference images to make a more complex final image.



Where do you come up with your ideas for pieces?

Mainly from what I see around me and just when you get random ideas that pop into your head. I try to jot them all down - I have many text documents with ideas for new work. I’m always adding to them so I doubt I’ll ever finish them all.



If you weren't an artist what job would you have?

I’ll take that as a compliment (hah, because I’m not a full-time artist yet). If I couldn’t do art…lately I’ve been thinking it would be fun to go into some sort of business with my sister, like an astrology-based match-making service or something really out there. I’d love to run a vegan café too. But in reality I’m not much of a people person so in reality something that allows me to keep to myself (like an artist, haha).



Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what do you typically listen to?

Sometimes. I’m pretty good at working in a range of environments. Music will depend what I’m into at the time, could be anything from CocoRosie to Kendrick Lamar, could even be Tool. I’m pretty broad. Been enjoying ‘The Internet’ recently - music, look it up.



Describe your perfect day?

Ironically, probably wouldn’t involve any art. Just a nice lazy brunch in the sun, some good food, good chats with loved ones then to some live music without a big crowd (can’t handle crowds), throw in an art-house/festival film - Indian for dinner and then lots of wine and whisky and maybe listen to some Kendrick Lamar to round off the night.



Have you had any haters? What's the best story about one?

Hah. Not overtly. I wish I had a cool story. One person/model got quite angry that I used a picture of her and her twin sister as a reference photo when I was just starting out. It was a feminist piece with (what I deemed) an overall empowering message but she thought I was implying things about her sexuality that weren’t true. So that was sort of interesting, I guess.



How have you grown as an artist since you first started, to now?

I’m more confident now. In my work and how I go about it. It’s great. Obviously I still have times where I feel like no-one will buy my work but I think every artist has these slumps. It gets better each year. I’m proud I kept going. It’s nice now when people reach out to me rather than me always reaching out to them.



What is the biggest influence on your work?

Sadly, the recent influence would be trying to make money! Haha. But other than that just seeing awesome feminist artwork or just feminist themes from people I follow, etc.



Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

To be fair I’ve never heard of Fudgee-O cookies. But knowing Oreos are vegan and being a vegan I have to pick those!

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