MUNTHE ART MONDAY: WHITNEY L. ANDERSON
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.
My name is Whitney L. Anderson and I am a self-taught multi-disciplinary fine artist practicing in the mediums of drawing since I was 3, painting since I was 15 and collage since I was 27. I was born into a 3rd generation commercial fishing family and raised on my dad’s boat in rural Alaska during the summers. My Scandinavian roots mean a lot to me because my great-great grandfather actually sailed from Åland to Alaska in the late 1800s.
My lineage is made up of strong matriarchs and patriarchs that were integral in creating sustainable fisheries and, to this day, providing healthy wild seafood to the rest of the world. Athletics were also a big part of my upbringing: I was one of the top high school runners in the nation when I attended Duke University on full athletic scholarship, graduating in 2009 with a B.A. in Fine Arts.
My signature art style is contemporary realism with a flare of pop-cultural nostalgia. I consider myself “old school, raw and a purist” in that I do not intermix different mediums or partake in the liberties of this modern tech era to achieve my collage masterpieces. Everything is free-handed and that stems from the thousands of hours I’ve spent refining my fundamental art skills ever since I picked up a pencil 30 years ago. Reflecting on my childhood, I often tell people” I didn’t like colouring books or tracing, I was always a blank, white slate kid.”.
Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?
I think being on this journey, so far, as a single woman provides me the luxury of time to create and have less burden to care for an immediate family. However, the caveat to that is the absence of support - both emotionally and financially. As a woman living in the 21st century I still have this shadow of doubt when it comes to stepping out on my own and making it as an entrepreneur - I don’t know about other women but it’s still a novel concept in my mind!
I didn’t set out to make a career out of this, it happened by necessity. I just had to keep paving my way. I think growing up with a self-employed dad who was a fishing boat captain since he was 21 got me on this path and my mom nurtured my cultural side. She brought me traveling to over 40 countries since the age of 9 years old—my first trip was to Europe! ”The world is an open book,” she always used to remind me.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
I just realized this last year that I don’t have any female artists that I look up to—just males. That’s when I had the personal epiphany of just how underrepresented female fine artists are in the art world! As a pop cultural artist, I have been highly inspired by female artists in the other mediums of music, movies, and fashion modelling. I discovered Helena Christensen when I was 18 and she has been my favourite muse that I have drawn, painted and collaged over the years, I adore the actress Cate Blanchett, she is so prolific and versatile with her film roles. As far as music I was a big Robyn fan growing up (now Zara Larsson has taken her place!). The elusive Sade is exceptional though. Did you know Drake asked to do a duet with her and she declined? As we say in America, she is too cool for school.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
Working for yourself is liberating but it is a lot of pressure and you never know when your next art piece will sell—there is no guaranteed salary/check coming in. I have to wake up every day and remember the phrase I made up for myself long ago,”the ripples you make today will be the waves you ride tomorrow.” I just know I had no choice but to keep going and trust my gut in one of the most solitude careers you can be in. Yes, art is an alone job—and sometimes very lonely! I had no leg up or art connections in life, either. For the first decade after leaving home at 18 I had to work a side job to support my art endeavours and just giving me the free time to paint and come up with novel concepts. I didn’t focus on the end result (selling it), I just focused on the process of creating. I believe the majority of time that we as artists put into our work only represents a fraction of the polished masterpieces that the public will see down the road.
It’s imperative that kids doodle when they are young, draw whenever they get the chance. Whether we are child or adult: creating art for art's sake with no agenda is pivotal in laying the foundation of those few masterpieces that could possibly be cemented in the public art world for all to see.
What would you like people to notice in your artwork?
I want people to see the details and the thought put into it. I believe what makes me a successful artist is often a paradox of mindsets: whimsical and free thinking with my ideas yet disciplined and commanding to execute those ideas. I spend countless hours on my art - from conception to completion, my mind is always calculating the next move to bring everything I visualize to life. My creative mission is to consistently move towards new challenging work: I believe that is what enthralls the viewer to see beyond the art and into my soul as it in turn touches their own.
Each Monday we bring you a fresh interview with a female artist.
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