Artist Anouk Colantoni frames her drawings
We want to let you in on a little secret. We have a real soft spot for artists. Not only are they at the core of our business, but they are also part of what makes our job so fun. (I mean, we get to look at amazing art everyday.) So, when we got a call from fashion stylist-turned-artist Anouk Colantoni asking if we could frame 52 pieces for her New York art show of course we said yes. And when she said the show was in two weeks, we didn't skip a beat. So, two weeks, and a plethora of calls and emails later, we were able to drop ship 52 pieces straight to the gallery for installation. Here's the scoop on the art, Anouk, and exactly how her show "Safety in Numbers" came together.
First things first. Where did you grow up? I was born in London, and grew up between Sydney and Tasmania in Australia. It’s called the “little apple”. So I swapped the "little apple" for the "big apple."
How would you describe yourself? I’m a disney princess at heart with a super dirty mind.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background as an artist? How did you start out?
I actually made my way through the fashion creative world over many moons. Throughout my whole twenties I was at Harper’s Bazaar Australia and Grazia. Then I made the jump to come to New York and have an adventure. I worked as an assistant to an editor – Camilla Nickerson – at Vogue. I worked with some pretty amazing people there. The best of the best. Living in NYC made me feel like I needed to express myself and all my funny, sad, and personal experiences. I wasn’t getting that through fashion styling.
So I started drawing everyday, and posting my work on Instagram under #anoukdoodleaday. It was as a joke, but also a connection through Instagram to my family and friends back in Australia. So, I started to make art and post it online – grotesque images and beautiful words, or really beautifully images and text that might be dark. It was a reaction to my life in NY: "Everything is not as it seems. I don’t feel the way I expected. I’m not who I thought I was going to be. What does it mean to be here?"
“I'm a disney princess at heart with a super dirty mind.”
Tell us about your creative process. How do you begin any given piece of art?
I call this series “Safety in Numbers”. This show mainly comes out of moments that are created very fast. Most of the process is in listening and watching, then getting down on to paper my best take on something that has happened. My choice of color is usually not very literal. It’s usually a feeling. The watercolor is not kept to the lines. It’s supposed to be a juxtaposition. So, maybe it’s a really dark, sexual image, and I choose candy colors to make it more accessible for people who may be really confronted to what I’m saying or to the actual image. I like to have a conversation.
These days everyone just wants to look at something really pretty and really fast, and maybe not look at the nitty gritty or something a little bit unfinished. I don’t like anything to be perfect. I struggle with perfection. In a world where everyone is trying to be perfect, it’s actually so beautiful to be completely unfinished.
“In a world where everyone is trying to be perfect, it’s actually so beautiful to be completely unfinished.”
How do you stay inspired?
I find inspiration – even just the word – can be really stressful. It’s kind of like you’re supposed to sound like you’re happy and inspired all the time. I think I get those inspirational moments when I least expect it, and I’m not thinking, and I’m not looking for something. I will get a moment and a feeling. Anything that reminds me of good times, or when I was young seems to really affect me as I’m growing up and getting older. I watch a lot of cartoons. I think the Japanese get it right with this strange adult content in childlike vision. There’s something there that really inspires me.
I also go to the same places everyday. The people who run those places, their characteristics, and the nuances of a seemingly repetitive day that they approach with excitement. They are living these normal lives, but are impacting me more than a piece of great art. Nobody wants to admit that regular things bring great passion and great joy. Even though I’m well educated and well read those are not necessarily the things that get me up everyday. Without mundane repetition I would never know when I’ve done something really special for myself or for someone else.
What does the title "Safety in Numbers" mean?
Physically, the show is grouped into numbers – into cells or clusters. The images themselves are all in safe numbers. It’s also a reference to human connection. Social media is making connection seem much greater. You’re cool if you have a certain amount of followers. There’s safety in a certain amount of wealth. Age is another one. I’m very much relating to changes in my life. I'm challenging the idea that we’re all just trying to feel safe jumping from one thing to another when it’s all just made up. We’re all just looking for the same thing: to connect with people.
“We’re all just looking for the same thing: to connect with people.”
What do you hope gallery goers and viewers take from your show?
I have been called a modern provocateur. I would like people to come in and have a reaction. Have an emotional response. Hate something. Love it. Secretly laugh. I want them to walk up and find one where they go “That’s dark. But I’ve been that dark. Therefore, I relate.” Or go, “I really don’t relate to that picture, but it makes me excited.” I just would love for people to feel a little uncomfortable. We are all super awkward and no one likes to tell each other the embarrassing stuff. I want to do that.
So how did you find out about Framebridge?
Through two wonderful women (founders of Hey Mama). Framing is important. I have a very raw artwork style and I wanted to keep it that way. I was seeking a really beautiful framing option, and obviously I was showing quite a large exhibition. I was thinking: "How can I get this done quickly, in a really clean and beautiful way? How can I make it affordable and fast?" I sat there and I was like: "Oh my goodness! Framebridge!"
“Framebridge had the right frames, the right method, and the right process to make it happen – in three days!”
How was the process of working through the details?
So good! It’s been absolutely amazing. It was such a tight timeframe – it was over Mother’s Day – and I don’t think I could’ve thrown more frames in. I had multiple questions about framing and all the possibilities, and Elise and the team made it seamless. She made it seem very comfortable and very logical. Every single one of the pieces was float mounted except for four watercolors. Framebridge had the right frames, the right method, and the right process to make it happen – in three days! It’s just me trying to work it out at the end of the day. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to seamlessly handle or afford to do the shipping. You’ve taken the stress out of it!
What is the biggest creative risk you've ever taken?
This! Deciding that I wasn’t very happy as a fashion editor. The risk was realizing that and starting to explore and start showing people who I actually am through this art. Having some faith in myself was the biggest creative risk, and having people see it in New York at 32 and a half years old.
All photography by Demi Ward.
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