Get To Know Anna Strumpf, The Artist Making Fashion Brighter Than Ever
Bold and Beautiful.
You might best know Ana Strumpf via her brilliantly animated illustrations that adorn your fave fashion images, or her more specific collabs with magazines, clothing and interior labels — either way, her bright sparks of colour and character are sure to have made your eyes pop out of your head on more than one occasion.
This season, she’s gotten together with Chadstone – The Fashion Capital (aka Melbourne’s fave place to spend its money) to make SS19 brighter than ever, by way of their ‘Art Of Fashion’ campaign. Emphasising the season’s love of pattern on pattern on pattern, she pens bursting florals and flashy stars and, in the perfect marriage of creativity and wearables, together they create bold imagery that showcases what’s on offer in stores for Spring/Summer.
Mesmerised totally by the spirit of her work, and her ability to turn self-expression into a career, we had to get to know her!
Ana! When did you first realise you were destined to be an artist?
I have always loved drawing. Back when I was a kid, I wanted to be a painter… but as a teenager I became interested in fashion and graduated with a degree in that field. Drawing was just a hobby for a long time — it was during the time I lived in NYC with my husband (2010 and 2014) that I started drawing again, but just as a hobby. And it was in New York that I started my Re.Cover project. I used to have work meetings over Skype and, while I talked, I doodled on top of magazine covers. I started liking the result, and posted some pics on Instagram. People found them and really appreciated them — back then, it was the beginning of Instagram. After that, some blogs started reposting the images and they went viral. Some friends who own a gallery in São Paulo invited me to exhibit the covers and, as a result, they got more attention. After that buzz, I started doing commissioned work for brands and magazines — something I’m doing to this day. I honestly never imagined I’d end up as an artist — except when I was a kid. Becoming one was a very spontaneous process, and I hope to keep on working as an illustrator and evolving my style forever! I love it.
Which parts of your upbringing do you think allowed and encouraged you to be a creative person?
I grew up with design being quite a prominent element in my home. My parents, and grandparents, owned a store of decoration textiles and my mum is an architect… so I’ve always been surrounded by an environment filled with visuals. My parents always encouraged my siblings and I to draw. Everyone in the family loves doing it — my dad draws amazing caricatures, and my sister has a beautiful illustration work as well! My family introduced to me to great artists that today I revere, and we used to travel a lot, visit museums…
"I love to see, create and draw beautiful images, and come up with beautiful products."
Your relationship with fashion is a long one — I read that from a young age you interned at fashion magazines in Sao Paulo. What is it about fashion that you’ve loved for so long?
Yes, I interned in a very popular teen magazine called Capricho. I was 13 at the time, and worked there during school vacation. I also worked as a salesperson for Donna Karan’s store in São Paulo, and interned at Anthropologie, in New York, back in 1999 — that was soon before I got into college. During my years as a fashion student, I worked as a stylist for MTV Brazil Magazine, and collaborated many years with Vogue Brazil as well. After college, I owned a fashion and design store for six years. There, I repurposed fabric leftovers from my parents’ store to create original pieces. Mixing fashion and interior design has always been very natural to me and became a continuous working interest. My love for fashion, though, definitely started because of the close contact I had with fabrics, textures and colours since childhood. I love to see, create and draw beautiful images, and come up with beautiful products. Fashion has always given me lots of opportunities to do just that.
You’ve collaborated with Australia’s most iconic shopping destination, Chadstone — how did this come about?
Their creative team saw my work and wanted to collaborate — they got in touch via Instagram.
And can you tell me about the work you did for them — the inspirations, references? Can you give us the scoop on the hottest colours from the season?
Spring was the main inspiration, I tried to mix flowers with some pop and fun elements that I like to use, like stars, eyes, hearts, lips… Also the colours of the pieces used in the editorial were very inspirational to me. I tried to use the colours of the outfits I illustrated on, so they would spring out as an extension of the pieces. I saw lots of bright coral, oranges, deep red, pale pink, fuchsia, yellow green, military green, bright yellow, Yves Klein blue, beige and more neutral shades as well.
What does ‘The Art Of Fashion’ mean to you?
Fashion x Art is an eternal love affair. Either as an inspiration, on a collaboration, it’s a way to transfer iconic images onto products. For me, the creative process of a great painter is the same as a great fashion designer — they are both artists. Fashion and art are two disciplines that revolve around the same sphere, which is creativity. I think they will be linked forever. Art will always inspire fashion designers, and collaborations will also stay strong (thank God for that!).
Which is the greater tool for self-expression — fashion or art?
I think fashion, interior design and lifestyle are key to self-expression. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they dress or live. Styling myself and my house is part of my creative process and in my case, my drawings are almost an extension of my personality and thinking.
"Art will always inspire fashion designers, and fashion will always fuel desire, personal style and self-expression."
Why do you think fashion and art have been friends for so long?
Fashion and art are two disciplines that revolve around intense creativity and observation. I think they will be linked forever. Art will always inspire fashion designers, and fashion will always fuel desire, personal style and self-expression — especially in individuals who are most sensitive to their beauty: the creative ones. I love collaborations between fashion brands and artists, I hope they stay steady throughout my career.
Do you think it’s important and beneficial for people to be able to express themselves through these mediums, or mediums other than words?
Yes, it’s important for people to have many outlets to explore their creativity. Music, sculpture, filmmaking or drawing all tell a story but require us to use different senses, different parts of our brains to process. I think this is very important.
What is an outfit you own that says the most about who you are? What does it say?
So hard to pick one! I have a vintage dress from the 1930s that I love. My husband gave it to me while we were in our honeymoon in San Francisco. It’s a velvet black dress with a see-through embroidered mesh on the sleeves and chest. It’s very delicate, chic and romantic. I love wearing it with red lipstick and a chunky pair of boots to get a high-low look. I think this look says a lot about me because I love creating contrasts: mixing the vintage with the brand new, the romantic with the industrial, the pop with the classic, the minimal with the bold. I find looks or homes that are put together entirely in a same style quite boring.
You do a whole lot — not just illustration but product design, trend forecasting, interior design, fashion collaborations — was your end goal always ‘commercial’ or did it take some convincing?
Yeah, I do all that… and also have twins at home! [Laughs] Well, I never had any definite career goals besides working creatively. All these multidisciplinary challenges came up very organically to me. I just took to them and tried to really enjoy executing them. But as much as design has always been part of my life, retail has been as well. I was always interested in the family business, which led to me having a store of my own to run for quite a while. So I guess, in an unconscious way, I ended up going towards a more commercial direction. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be forever like this!
Is there anything you can’t do or a skill you wished you possessed?
I’m terrible with all sorts of manual skills, like embroidery, crochet, sewing… I would love to be good at them, but I never had the patience to learn.
More than anything, your work is fantastically spirited — how do you hope Australian’s connect with it? What feelings do you want them to feel?
I have a special connection with Australia, and even more with Melbourne! I was part of a student exchange program back in 1996, where I lived with a local family and attended a local high school for 6 months. Australia feels like a very jolly country, just like my drawings. I hope the campaign lives up to this good Aussie vibe!
And we gotta ask — fav pieces from the SS19 season?
My favourite look from the campaign is the orange floral trousers with white floral shirt, both by Gucci. I also like the pink and white plaid skirt suit by Country Road.
Produced by Oyster in partnership with Chadstone — The Fashion Capital.
Images courtesy Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, @anastrumpf