Meet the Maker: Anna’s Drawing Room
Hello, my name is Anna Vartiainen, working under the name Anna’s Drawing Room.
I live by the south coast in Worthing with my partner and daughters, drawing and designing nature-inspired art prints, cards and home-wares.
Describe your process.
Many of my prints are digital, but when possible, I do love hand-printing. All my pieces start with a simple pen drawing. For linocuts or stamps I’ll trace it to transfer onto a block, or for a repeat pattern I’ll scan drawings into Photoshop, create a pattern tile, print that and carve it.
How and where did you learn to print?
Largely self-taught, I’ve learned a lot by looking up what I need online and in books, buying the materials and quite simply trying them at home. With linocutting this was fine, but screen printing was a bit trickier and I came to you guys at Handprinted for a course with Sarah Hamilton. A few months later, Shirley helped get me started in your workshop to create my first screen prints for sale.
Apart from this I once did a short course in drypoint etching, which was amazing! This would be good to revisit some day. I’m still a printmaking beginner really, but every so often make the time to try again and progress.
Apart from the obvious – being able to create multiple copies of an image – I love the unpredictability, the possibility for block colour, the unlimited scope for learning, and even the stress! There’s an element of magic I think.
Where do you work?
At home (I have what would be the dining room as my workspace) and at a beach hut studio shop that I share with other makers on Worthing seafront.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
At home I only have Friday mornings dedicated to work while my youngest goes to nursery. This short time keeps me pretty organised, so I plan my day and am usually quite strict. I’ll get admin and anything important done first, often getting an hour’s work done before the morning school run!
On these days I like to do something that’s not feasible with the kids around, like taking product photos, doing some drawing or printing, anything that takes time and concentration.
Otherwise home work hours are restricted to toddler nap times, but weekends at the beach hut allow for some more relaxed drawing time, as well as meeting lovely customers and other makers.
How long have you been printmaking? When did you start Anna’s Drawing Room?
I put a couple of linocut prints in my Etsy shop about 4 years ago and started tentatively selling at occasional Brighton craft markets. This was at times good, at times disastrous! I started taking it more seriously at the end of 2014, when I became officially self-employed.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from all around in daily life, from the ever-beautiful seascape, to the trees in the park, to the birds in the garden or the pot plants around the house.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
It’s got to be my little wooden handled lino cutter with changeable blades. It’s so compact, comfortable to use and can be safely popped into my handbag to take to the hut. It’s really lovely to sit and concentrate on simply carving some shapes.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
My new seascape screen prints. They came out just as I’d hoped, and have been popular so I’m really happy.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
What will we be seeing from Anna’s Drawing Room next?
More landscape-inspired work, more patterns, colour layers and slightly larger scale work I hope!
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
I would recommend joining a community, online or otherwise. It keeps you going! And get expert help/advice from the pros for the things you find tricky.