The digital collages of Hungarian-born illustrator Anna Kövecses use minimal shapes to evoke a charming array of domestic scenes. Under her skilled hand, abstract shapes coalesce into familiar forms, all rendered in a signature bright palette. She has authored numerous children’s books, recipe books, and has created works for an impressive range of clients, including The New York Times, Monocle magazine, and the BBC. Anna currently resides in a small seaside village in Cyprus, with her boyfriend and two young children.
Subscribers will receive two prints from Anna in the mail in June 2017. Subscribe by May 31st.
Hi Anna! Tell us about your work.
Aside from working on commissioned illustrations I love exploring small quiet scenes that are parts of my everyday life. I often scribble some vague sketches into my phone or notebooks that lay around the house and then get back to them later to turn them into final artworks. Still, Seascape and Morning Étude (note: forthcoming in Papirmass, not pictured) document the peaceful and quiet moments that often remain unnoticed but are the most important in my opinion.
What do you love about where you work?
I work in the kitchen by our large wooden dining table. I’m facing a tall window that overlooks a tiny green garden with a huge tree and the lovely ochre-colored wall of the next house. I love this panorama, and I love listening to the birds in the garden.
But working at home also means having a heart attack when you see your kids casually pouring apple juice over your laptop and “finishing” your drawings with a purple crayon.
Describe your typical day.
Being a mom of two small kids means a fast, loud, and almost firework-like start to my day. All of a sudden, after they go to school, the house turns into a strangely quiet and empty space. Just like when you enter a church from a lively square and sounds get wiped out in a second. I don’t have a studio. I work at the kitchen table instead. I like having lots of light and space around me.
When working I often surround myself with books and albums on art, plants, children’s novels, landscapes or food that I spread out on the floor like a live mood board. I spend the morning drawing or working on illustration projects and drinking way too much tea.
Whenever I get stuck, I go for a walk, do some yoga or start cooking something pretty which always helps me gain back my creative control. I work until the kids come home. I love how sounds rush back into the house with my children telling me emotional stories about their days. We play, walk or bike and cook together until they go to bed.
What have you learned about yourself through being an artist?
Being an artist and a mama at the same time is a wonderful thing. Showing your kids a different perspective of the world, being close to them, involving them in what you do is truly magical and inspiring. But, like everything else, it has some tough moments too. I had to learn how to make compromises, how to break my artistic flow and pause exciting ideas whenever I need to be there for them. It’s taught me patience and tolerance.
Do you think creativity is learned or innate?
I strongly believe that every child is an artist. The wonderful thing about young children making art is how they’re completely fearless to express their feelings. They see beauty in every artwork they make and can be extremely creative when it comes to solving problems. The real problem comes when adults start wanting to shape them according to some social norm or ideal, which is wrong. The only good way to nurture a child’s creativity is to provide plenty of opportunities for making art and appreciating the outcome with positive reactions.
What has been the most challenging part of your career?
It took me quite a while to learn how to distinguish myself as an artist and my other self as an illustrator. Accepting the fact that as an illustrator I usually have to follow instructions I still find it hard to cope with tweaking my artwork many times before coming up with a final illustration.
As an artist I’m in total control of my output, nobody ever tells me what to do, which is a fantastic thing with exciting results. When working on commissioned projects, I often feel that everybody wants to see something I did previously and I find myself repeating patterns. This is why it’s very important to make time for personal projects and freshen up my mind before I jump into the following commission.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
A strip of a seaside cliff on the southern part of Cyprus. There is a path on the top that leads between palm plantations, meadows filled with wildflowers, and gigantic agaves that grow twice as tall as a man. We once lived very close by and took long walks there every day regardless of the season. We’re bonded to this place so strongly that we’re planning to move back soon.
What role do artists play in society?
In a world that is often cruel and imperfect, art’s role is to make people feel less lonely and miserable. By creating something that is beautiful and harmonious, you make others believe they are not alone and that everything is okay.
Anna Kövecses is our June 2017 artist.
See more at cargocollective.com/annakovecses