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Anna Topuriya in Studio.
Anna Topuriya is an artist and designer who lives and works in New York City.
Q / Hi Anna! How do you usually start your day? Any routine that gets you up?
A / A cup of coffee and a walk around the park with my dog. If I am working in my studio then I usually come back from the walk and spend some time going through what I want to accomplish for the day.
Q / Do you have a daily uniform? Anything you carry with you every day?
A / Comfortable shoes. I have a very small bag, it keeps me from loosing or forgetting my essentials: wallet, keys + phone. Anything larger and I end up picking up unnecessary items throughout the day. What you carry really depends on your environment and circumstance. When I lived in LA I had a giant bag of everything, I could toss it in the backseat of my car and forget about it.
Q / Is there a time of day that you feel most productive? Anything specific that helps keep you focused?
A / Time of day does not affect me. Nothing keeps me more focused than a project I am excited about. If I’m not focused then there’s something that is boring me, either in the piece I am creating or the way I am approaching it. Loosing focus is an indicator that I need to re-evaluate my approach.
Q / What is your favorite place to work?
A / I finally have a studio with windows. It means everything to me.
Q / How do you try to balance your time?
A / I always have time for the people I love. Making art is not separate from my life. I am very lucky for this, but it is tricky to wrap your head around when you’re a young artist, especially in New York.
“Loosing focus is an indicator that I need to re-evaluate my approach.”
Q / Do you find lists helpful? How do you keep yourself organized with all the projects you have going on?
A / Yes. I’m currently balancing a few projects and I can’t see any other way of keeping track of everything. By writing down what needs to get done, I don’t have to keep so much in my head. It gives me room to think about the actual project. But I stay flexible, if I’m really into a painting or a project and I feel the momentum and excitement building then I put the list aside.
Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / I’m good at making myself take the time to reflect. I want to work on expressing my ideas in writing.
Q / What do you enjoy most about your career? What are the most challenging things about it?
A / Art helps us connect with people from different backgrounds, different countries, different centuries. I don’t believe art can solve all of our problems but I do believe it helps bring us closer. Being early in my career, the challenge is in staying open to opportunities which might help me develop while also knowing when it’s okay to turn down an offer which might have shorter commercial success but stray from my original goals and intentions.
“Art helps us connect with people from different backgrounds, different countries, different centuries. I don’t believe art can solve all of our problems but I do believe it helps bring us closer.”
Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously in terms of your work?
A / Time. No one is counting your hours. Everyone’s career is different and moves at a different pace. This also applies to projects: every project has its own pace.
Q / Something that’s very important to you in your work?
A / Integrity.
Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / My studio.
Q / How does your home influence the kind and quality of work you produce?
A / My studio is in my apartment. I don’t have a lot of stuff but I need to be surrounded by my stuff when I work. The previous apartment I lived in did not have many windows, and it really got me down especially in the winter.
“Time. No one is counting your hours. Everyone’s career is different and moves at a different pace.”
Q / Where did you grow up and what led you to your current home. How would you say these places shaped your perception of work?
A / I was born in the Republic of Georgia and my family moved to Hollywood when I was five. I lived in Los Angeles most of my life until moving to New York four years ago. I have two older sisters and their childhood in Georgia was filled with art, music, dance and fencing lessons. When my family moved to the states my parents couldn’t afford to give me the same type of childhood, but my grandmother (who stayed home with me) would watch me draw all the time and convinced my parents to enroll me in art lessons at the age of eight and I’ve been going at it since. I went to Art Center College of Design. My experience there was mostly negative but I am still grateful for a West Coast art education. It was all things go. We weren’t as tied down to tradition. It was all about making what you want and making it big.
Q / What is your first memory of work? Of success? Of failure?
A / I’m not sure, it feels like it has all blended together.
Q / Do you keep any collections? If so, how do they influence you creatively?
A / I pick up things from places I have traveled to but I don’t have any real collections. I moved to New York with one large suitcase and I have changed apartments six times in the three years. It’s been hard to hold on to things.
“I am still grateful for a West Coast art education. It was all things go. We weren’t as tied down to tradition. It was all about making what you want and making it big.”
Q / How would you define beauty and what part does it play in your work?
A / I define beauty in honesty.
Q / Does social media factor into your work at all? Is there anything you find problematic about it?
A / I love social media, it’s so democratic. It has given a voice to so many people. I use Instagram and I love connecting with people, but I am also really easy going about it. I post what I like, when I like. I enjoy having a community online but it doesn’t factor into my work. I think it can be problematic when the feedback from posts affects your perception of your work.
Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / I use it.
Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / I visit my family in LA but I can’t go home that often, so usually I put on a face mask and turn on ID true crime dramas.
“I love social media, it’s so democratic. It has given a voice to so many people. I use Instagram and I love connecting with people, but I am also really easy going about it.”
Q / Was there any particular person who led you to change direction and helped shape your career in formative way?
A / I had a printmaking professor in college who helped shape how I see and work. I learned a lot about creating work that was both intuitive and process oriented. He also taught me how to take ownership and pride in my work.
Q / How did your parents feel about your career path?
A / My parents are art lovers but they come from a background in science. Their perceptions have not changed much. They wanted me in a stable full time job but they also understood the importance of my studio practice. If I am working for a client they always check in to make sure I’m still on track with my studio work.
Q / What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The funniest?
A / Worst: Designing shampoo ads. Funniest: Playboy, the only job where scrolling through nudes was expected.
Q / Would you say your career is more solitary or collaborative?
A / I have my studio practice which has been solitary, but I also work as design consultant and art director with clients and that work is very much collaborative. I love collaborating and I would like to collaborate with other artists and designers next year as part of my studio practice. In 2014, I collaborated with potter Natalie Weinberger. I loved seeing our processes meet and the exchange of ideas.
Q / What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
A / Connecting with people.
Q / How does your work affect the rest of your life?
A / It force me to be flexible. Stability isn’t a selling point of being in the arts but I think the constant change is what keeps it interesting.
Q / What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
A / Moving to New York after college and finding my place here.
“Stability isn’t a selling point of being in the arts but I think the constant change is what keeps it interesting.”
Q / What are you looking forward to this year?
A / It’s been a difficult year for me, and right now everything feels like it is in flux. I am wrapping up work as a design consultant on a project, after which I will take a month off to travel before I get back in my studio practice full time. I’m very excited to for next year. I will have more time to really dive deep into the projects I have been planning. I am also looking forward to reaching out to more creatives in NYC for collaborations.
Q / Lastly, ten of your favorite people, places, and things that we should discover too?
A / Volcanos, artist Mamma Andersson, California, artist Connie Wong, lettering artist Remy Chwae, designer Clarisse Demory, BRRCH Floral, Flannery O’Connors’ A Good Man is Hard to Find, artist Mary Nelson Sinclair and #bennettsgifdiary.
Photography & Interview