This week Artfinder met London and New York-based painter Anna Laurini, whose work is big and bold! She is a well recognized street artist in East London, has painted commissions in New York for the St. Mark’s Place music stores and for several private houses and lofts in Manhattan. Anna has had solo exhibitions in London, Milan, Cairns and New York. Her paintings are a combination of figurative portraiture and abstraction and she splits her time between two cities, two studios and has a very exciting exhibition coming up at Jimmy's No.43 in New York’s East Village.
We found out what Anna had to say...
On becoming an artist
"I’m not quite sure what I wanted to be when I was a child, but I’ve always considered myself to have been born an artist. Before being an artist full time, I worked in many industries but never felt as though I succeeded in anything, so I thought why not try to be a full time artist?
I studied for one year in London at Central Saint Martins, and then transferred to New York to study at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), but I found the academic program wasn’t quite for me and so never actually graduated. I did a lot of life drawing training at Art Student League in New York, which I found a lot more useful and enriching. Once you know how to draw the body, it unlocks everything."
On being an artist
"Being an artist for me is not only a profession but also a lifestyle, a way of living. When you’re not enjoying what you’re doing I think you have to break out and do what you love, for me being a artist was an organic decision which happened very naturally.
Being an artist means being able to share feelings, emotions and beauty."
On the studio
"My North London studio is my home, my heart and my safe place. I paint and make art where I feel the urge, this could either be in the chaotic street of a busy city or in my cozy and quiet studio.
I started to paint on the streets three years ago, I initially did this as an experiment but the experiment turned into an addiction! I began painting on the streets of East London, I thought East London was the area which would be most tolerant and welcoming. My confidence has grown and I am now enjoying painting in areas such as the West End and Mayfair. I work only on wooden boards attached to construction sites, not directly onto the walls of buildings."
"I repeatedly paint half-profiles, which are symbolic of a face looking for its other half.
Sometimes this motif is reflected in a mirror and when reflected back, it finds an illusory sense of wholeness and fulfilment. Sometimes I'll paint two half-profiles on one canvas, or one wooden board... you could argue that in being together they appear complete, as though one has finally found oneself.
I want the faces that I paint across cities to capture someone's attention for a moment in time, to be playful and enigmatic and to ultimately trigger a sense of happiness. In a way this is what makes the face that I paint whole, it becomes fulfilled when the viewer engages with it and experiences some kind of emotion.
I use acrylic paints and I love to paint with brushes on canvas. When I couldn’t afford the canvas I would use recycled materials such as cardboard, books or anything I could collect.
Painting is my favourite thing on earth, for me it is just a vital function like breathing, eating and sleeping. I only feel at home and in a safe mind frame when I'm painting, and I would never give up."
My inspiration also comes from within, or from music, or sometimes from something random, inspiration is a hard thing to articulate because you experience in the same way, in which you experience emotion or when you fall in love. You feel it but you don’t really know the why, the how, or the what…"
"When doing street art in unauthorised places, it can be a challenge not to get caught but then again that’s why I do it, I get such a thrill. In the past I have struggled with the notion of other people judging my work, but now I have began to focus on thinking about my work confidently and trying not to be too judgmental of myself! The more work I make, the more relaxed I feel."
On other artists
"Picking out specific artists is always tricky because I’m inspired by so many! I have a lot of admiration for Banksy, I love the way his work is always loaded with social and political issues whilst being very sarcastic and witty.
Generally I like artists who work in media that I don’t, such as photographers, video-makers, musicians, poets and activists. I like that they express their feeling in ways which I can’t."
On role models
"My Brother Stefano is my role model. He is a great man who manages to do many things, he is a doctor, hypnotherapist and yoga teacher."
"I currently live in North London. I love it, I love my studio, my garden and my neighbourhood.
In terms of philosophies I listen to a lot of talks and podcasts by David Icke, who is a humanitarian activist, writer and theorist. I think of him as being very spiritual and find his thoughts about how to deal with reality without being manipulated by the system, really powerful.
My own philosophy is that life is worth living. Life is the best gift given to us and it’s important that we share it properly and make the most of it. Follow your intuition as well as your heart and everything will work out."
"Artfinder is really respectful towards its artists, I joined in November 2014 because I was interested in being a part of something that wasn’t trying to take advantage of its artists and their work. Within the Artfinder community there are always lots of exciting projects going on. I actually have a relationship with Artfinder and don’t feel like just another number online, I communicate directly with the team at Artfinder and couldn’t be more glad to be part of the community."
On the future
"I am going to New York in September and have an exhibition at Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village with live painting and live music, which will take place on the 27 September. Of course everyone is invited! In the future I can see myself living as I do now, between London and New York.
My aspiration is to one day have a big loft in both cities, and to use these spaces to arrange my own exhibitions and exhibit my work!"