Anna Drumm - Artist Interview
Anna Drumm is a young, talented artist whose work is an engaging, modern, amalgamation of experience and inspiration. Viscerally compelling, Anna creates original masterpieces that derive from a cornucopia of sources including her extraordinary interest in street art, classical artists like Van Gogh, contemporary reactionary art, as well as, her own milieu.
Starting from a compulsion in grade school to express herself artistically to collaborating and piquing interest of peers and art aficionados alike, Anna has a unique gift to conceive and actualize ingenious, abstract, and visually remarkable works. When inspired, Anna can work at a frenzied pace to complete the germination of a piece from a simple spark into a wildfire of creativity.
Utilizing such a lavish palette of life and all its wonders, Anna finds her phenomenal gift to be an expression of love. If the audience experiences, even for just a moment, a thought or emotion to be more human, loving, passionate, and ignite hope for creativity and existence then she has achieved a certain reciprocal nirvana with her work. If Anna’s work inspires anything in the audience, in turn, it will continuously inspire her to push boundaries in her own imaginative capacity, understanding, and artistic nuance. Relentlessly evolving, Anna’s efforts offer the audience an opportunity to experience art with a unique, moving reaction that will change with each view. Anna’s work is a novel representation of reality that allows her to be a vessel for love, hope, and ideas not only worth the challenge to find fruition but also to alter one’s concept of normality.
Anna Drumm, with love in her heart, remarkable talent at her fingertips, and an avant-garde respect and appreciation for a medium that is in perpetual need of such original panache proves that quality in character and aptitude is far from absent in today’s art scene. Her art is evident, that Anna’s mantra to ‘do what you love as if no one is watching and dare to show the entire world’ is a service within itself that all with a passion to do and appreciate art must witness individually.
This art conveys such an insightful truth that it exponentially incites a humanistic self-awareness, which many may never achieve. Even rarer is the art’s capability to touch something deep within us all on a spiritually molecular level that only great art is able to do. This love, this work, is something beautiful to behold. A truth best seen and hardly equivalent to the words that this writer has attempted to express into a worthy description of its power and breathtaking magnitude of gorgeous, magnificent, splendor.
This comprehensive interview covers Anna’s entire spectrum of artistic experience. She details her opportunities and challenges to find her voice and break out successfully on to the world stage. In her own words, she explains how she has come to express this exceptional gift to the masses. “I hope to attribute to society with my work, to inspire other people to speak about their truth. We all have amazing stories to tell. Each person is so individual and unique. We can all have enough courage in ourselves to let that shine. I really hope that that is what my work is able to do.”
What was your first experience with art? My first experience that I can remember was someone telling me that I was going to fail. When I was in grade school, my art teacher was so impressed with my work that she asked me to teach an after school class. I taught kindergartners how to paint and introduce them to different textures, colors, and use their hands. I felt good about that. I had some pride about that.
When I got into my freshman year of high school I got into the art class that I wanted to get in to taught by Ms. Profit. I get into her class and I’m super stoked. I see the kids in the class, what they’re doing, and my head says, ‘aw shit man, I really gotta step up my game.’ I want to be good in this class.
First day, I’m late. I’m running in my new clogs down the hall. I trip and fall. My backpack goes over my head. My knee and palms are all bloody. I get into the class and I’m shaking. She says, ‘sit down, you’re late.’ I said, ‘I know, I’m so sorry,’ but she didn’t care that I was all bloody.
So, a week into class, she tells us that there’s going to be this art contest in Laguna Beach and she’s going to enter the five best people in the class. It’s an actual contest with money involved. We’re doing this still life.
You can pick what you want to draw out of these few objects with all colored pencils and pastels. I drew a still life of this plant. I was the last one to finish, I said, ‘please enter it.’ She said, ‘fine.’ Long story short, I win the contest, but the teacher told me that it doesn’t matter cause I’m gonna fail anyways. She was just so bitter; bitter party of one. I would actually thank her now because that made me say, ‘no, I’m not.’ I have that fight in me. Don’t tell me that I’m not going to do something because I’m going to do it. I did however not tell anyone or show anyone my paintings for years. That is a big part of my story.
Tell me your process from beginning to end on a piece. It comes from my life experiences. I’m doing research right now. I learn differently since I’m very dyslexic and need visuals. I’m watching little clips and films on communism, socialism, fascism, and capitalism. I’m researching all this stuff and it’ll be either a thought or an image that will stick with me. It will hit me and there will be like this ping.
I can be pinged by many different things. I wait until there is, literally, a compulsion to say something about that ping. Once that happens, when I feel it’s important, I let it go. I’ll sit with it for a day, week, or even a month, and then an image will come to me and I put that down.
Sometimes it means that I paint over it. For example, I painted three pieces while I was in New York for three different people. They were just straight commission pieces. I can see the differences between commission pieces and pieces that I do for myself. The people are super happy with the work that I do, but I saw so many layers that I took in the piece that was not commissioned. It says so many different things to me in the duration. I reach a certain point and then it’s done. Drop the brush. It is done.
Everything depends on what I see. Sometimes the smallest thing will need the biggest canvas. Sometimes I know that I want something for someone that has a small apartment where there is an emotion to the piece, but it goes on a leaner, studio canvas. The texture is a lot softer. The colors are a lot different from say something that is going to be huge. I can texturize the shit out of it, go loud, and big on something huge. It’s like a weird voodoo process.
When, why, and how did you start wanting to do art professionally? It was a complete accident through a series of life changing events. I got my dream job acting, was on set with academy award winning actors like Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, and had this moment of clarity. I did not want that life anymore. As well as feeling that, I left a relationship that I thought was going to go forever, get married, and have kids, etc. a little while ago.
Those two big things literally sent me spinning and I questioned my identity. I asked myself, ‘who, the fuck, am I if I am not going to be the actor, the model, not going to be the wife of…’ Really, I believe it was the intervention of a power greater than I was. I was forced to look at myself. There was this moment where I looked in the mirror, sat with myself, and said, ‘what the fuck are you going to do with your life, kid?’ It was as if an animal inside of me awoke and I could not stop painting.
Instinctual I picked up a can and started painting like an animal. I spent every dime I had on it. I would wake up early and paint all day. Paint. Paint. Paint. Paint. Paint. Paint. Paint. Then, with paint all over me, I would stop and try to scrub it off to rush to my job in Beverly Hills where I must look perfect and pretty. Customers looked at me as if I just slaughtered an animal. I’d say, ‘no, it’s red spray paint. I’m so sorry.’ Wearing long sleeves, I would try to make it work, but I could not stop painting. I ran into the artist, Samaire Armstrong. I saw her work and super dug it. I thought this chick’s work, in a very subtle way, says something in the most beautifully understated elegance. She likes to rattle cages. I just dug it.
I spent all my money on supplies and so I asked her, ‘where do you get your supplies? I really need more, but I have like $100 left.’ She said, ‘I’ll help you out and bring you to this spot. It’s super cheap.’ Out of nowhere, she says, ‘you’ve gotta talk to my manager.’ Mind you, she had never seen my work.
I had never shown anybody. Literally, hording all of it in my house, people would come over and I would take all the shit off my wall and hide it because I was, just, scared. It was a side of me that I was terrified to expose. It was my truth, my honest to God, truth.
After a couple of days, I called her manager, Chris Kane. I loved him right away. We totally hit it off. He said, ‘you seem pretty dope. Just send me a few of your pieces.’ I shoot him over a couple pictures and he hits me back, ‘We’re working together.’ I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Absolutely dude.’ Then, I just started doing shows like Artwalk in downtown L.A. and Famefest in Hollywood. I told him that I had shown a couple of pieces and that they sold right away. I had already started selling work.
My mom was saying, ‘look at my proud daughter.’ Business friends said, ‘can she paint for my office, etc.?’ I made back that money I had spent, bought more supplies, and kept painting. I could afford to not work and just focus on my art. It just started snowballing from there. Now I am in a place with a little momentum under me, met some people, and am like, ‘what am I gonna do now? Where’s my voice at now?’ I can see how the evolution of my work is going to expand.
Describe that first exhibit. What was your reaction to what the audience saw? At Famefest, I’m setting up my work, positioning it, and nervous as fuck. People are going to see my work. It’s official. I’m chain-smoking, drinking espresso, and someone I respect walked by to sneak a picture of my artwork. Later, I saw that they posted it. I was flattered.
We have to be real about the day and age that we live in. People can just take a picture of your work, print it out at Kinko’s, and frame it. Something about my work spoke to them enough to need it in their life in some way, share the love, and put it out there. I look at it that way. That gave me that feeling. Ultimately, I am doing it for this.
Yes, I need to paint, but then what do I do? Spreading a message of love and igniting thought in people of what is really going on in this world, not just, what we are being told is going on, is a big deal. That was my first little moment of people responding to what I’m doing.
Also, it was the piece that I doubted the most and that is cool. I popped my chest and said, ‘let’s do this.’ I thought that the piece looked like bullshit on canvas that I wanted to rip up, but it spoke to someone first. It gave me a sense of pride in my work and it just built from there.
People came up to me and talked about my work. They told me what it made them think of, what it made them feel. Anything works. Everything is good. It evokes a thought or an emotion. That’s magical. It’s a gift. It reminds us that we’re human. It’s so specific to everyone. I love it.
Who are some of your favorite artists or idols? There is a lot. As an artist and a person, I love Samaire Armstrong. Annie Preece is a rockstar. I love Gregory Siff. I dig what he’s about. Those are L.A. people, in it, and I like what they are about or how they aim to be about it. I would love to work with Samaire or Gregory. It would be super cool to work with international artist, Alec Monopoly.
In honor of my childhood because Van Gogh was one of my first loves, I would love to ask him, ‘bro, what was it about the ear? Really, what was so bad or what did you take?’
Do you collaborate and work with other artists? Yeah, I have just been asked to do a piece with Lauren Over. She is amazing. I love love her work. We are going to show the piece soon. It has to be the right gallery and context because the piece is very moving, emotional. She set me up and I added my flare. She is the first artist that I have really collaborated with like that.
What happens differently in the individual process versus collaboration? Do you change your approach? Yeah, when I collaborate with someone the other artist is not in the room. I talk to them about the piece, see what they have done, or vice versa if I start the piece, and I just go into a zone. I do paint differently when someone is there as opposed to alone in the studio.
I haven’t painted live. I would love to be able to achieve that zone that I get into with other people present, but I’m not going to push myself. If it’s not there, it’s not there. If I don’t have a pull towards it then it’s not where I’m supposed to be.
Do you ever feel like there is something possessing you or controlling you when you are in that ‘zone’ working? On that, I think what is important is that if I were to have a ‘higher power’ speak through me that I am to spread the message of love. I write love on me everyday almost. I don’t really know where that comes from and don’t really question it. It’s a positive thing. So, why question it? With all my work, my message, my intention, is definitely love. It may not always seem that way, but that is my intention.
Does it slightly alter from piece to piece? For sure, but the motives behind showing my art is that of spreading the message of love, to love thy self, to honor thy self, to honor thy neighbor. Ideas and thoughts are just so abstract. I don’t really tell people what to think I just hope that they know what to think or feel when they see it.
What are your major influences as an artist? How did you grow? I would love to give a cool explanation and rattle off prolific names. The reality is that the emotion that I feel when I see human interactions compels a need to express. The feeling that I get from life, joy, sadness, loss, gain, gluttony, and sloth…compels me to do whatever it is that I am doing whether it is to paint, write, dance, etc.
I really was turned on when I started looking at street art. Like three years ago, I was dating this dude and he introduced me to street art. After that, I just could not stop researching. I was living and working as a model at the time in New York going back and forth to L.A. I just noticed street art everywhere. I was so intrigued and immediately struck with this overwhelming sense of love and passion for street art.
I am not a street artist, but I think that it is crucial to have street artists. As the world is, it is unfortunate that they have confines on them because everything can be so black and white…square. What I think street art provides is stimulation, opinions, points-of-view, and passions from people that can ignite something in perfect strangers. Street artists can give people ideas and hope. That was the first thing that really turned me on.
Do you see an evolution of street art in its acceptance by the art establishment and professionals? Yeah, it is so amazing. A whole art revolution is happening right now. It’s a serious movement. It’s really coming up in L.A. in the past few years. Giving credit to this movement is a big deal. Many people just want to throw street artists away and say, ‘That’s just some shit on a wall.’ What if you did stop, did look, did appreciate? What could you get out of that? I think giving it specificity on a wall in a gallery definitely helps people give it more meaning, more exposure.
Do you ever get compulsions to paint and finish immediately? There are periods of compulsion where I am in it. I’ll stop what I’m doing, go home, and sketch it out. I have to take an action on that inspiration immediately. There’s a piece I did called, ‘the color of sound.’ It was evoked by an emotion that I had listening to music. I think that music is one of the most important things that we have for inspiration. It’s a tool.
Late one night, I was on my way home and I just saw the painting. I just saw and felt it. The piece is these heads lined up. They’re exploding with color off the neck. That is the color of sound to me. Each head represents a different song or emotion. I saw it, had to start right away, and get it down. Sometimes I step away. Sometimes, the art can take on a different meaning, more life comes to it, or more thought comes to it.
Do your ideas evolve? Always…my Art Man series has been in evolution for a month and a half. My Art Man is, basically, a stick man, box head. The concept is, ‘what is art?’ Art is what you decide it is. It’s a little bit of my ‘fuck you’ to the art critics, but it’s also me saying it is what you make of it. So, make of it. This little art man dude has these thoughts and ideas. He’ll just pop up on some cardboard or some canvas. I have a little series that I did. These black, little canvases have the dude pop up in the corner chilling with an idea. Each dude has a different expression. It is what you make of it. He represents ART…this little guy.
Is there any subject that you think is dangerous or not worth the time to spend on it? Yeah, I am not at all into promoting any kind of violence towards people or anything that can be misconstrued. We are responsible for putting images out there. I want to evoke emotion in people. Be specific and know that. Like, my Art Man is holding a gun to his head. What does that show? Understand that there is so much fear being pushed into our society. If you give one person the trigger button, then they could pull it out of fear.
I say that about violence in music, words, film, and fucking video games that are all about massacre. I’m not into it at all. I don’t think that it provides the message that we need to get out there. I think it is very specific and deliberate.
What do you think the difference for you is between how you see your art and how the audience sees your art? Ultimately, art can be destroyed and forgotten. I’ve had pieces get ripped up at shows, fallen, and people step on them, and shit happens. However, it served its purpose if one person saw it, has it in their memory banks, can refer to that, and give them a sense of ease or remember a time that upset, or inspired them.
How do you make art a part of your life, but not become your life so that you do not burn out on it? My immediate thought is art is life so I don’t know how you can burn out on it. I do think, however, that it’s important to have time where you do step away, get out of the studio, and experience life just like an average normal Joe. It’s important to exist, live, travel, meet people, and say yes to what life has to offer.
Then again, if I’m commissioned, with deadlines ahead, I have to finish the work, but I do just want to sit and geek out and be like, ‘no, I don’t want to work.’ That’s just two seconds of thought though. The reality is that I have to get off my ass. It’s a reminder that I’m giving this gift of myself to other people. They’re allowing me to be a vessel for something that they’re going to have in their life. It’s a gift.
Are you working on anything fresh? My new influences are going back to some interactions with people like the Freemasons and the Illuminati. Whatever that acknowledgment is, the awareness that it has brought to my life can spawn into a baby doll picture, I don’t know, but there’s an ignition of inspiration starting there. I don’t know where it’s going to go yet, but I have an awareness of it and an attention. It’s starting to fester, to cook. It’s just the relevance of our history and the idea of elitism in our country.
What would you say is the audience that you are trying to reach? My hope is to reach everybody who never thought that they were interested in anything that had to do with graffiti art, street art, etc. I am not a street artist, but I want the young, the old, and the in-between to be interested. It’s cool.
One of the first pieces that I was commissioned to do was for a total corporate entity. That opportunity has evolved into people in the corporate world saying, ‘I love that there is something so not IKEA. It gives a vibe to the room that we have never experienced. There is energy in it. It’s like a youthful energy.’ It’s like an ignition of thought that would not normally be in an office and I like that.
Would you see yourself working in a corporate structure like Disney perhaps?I don’t know until I cross that bridge. It would depend on the corporation. You can’t really get away from it, but you sure, as fuck, can help with whom you interact.
Is there anything that you are against about the corporate side of art? Dude, that question is a whole other Oprah. I probably don’t have the time to go into that at all. Also, I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth, but what I can say is harbor your individuality, cherish it, and share it with the world. Honor thy self, stand in your truth, and walk proud.
How do you feel about mass production of art?As long as I am getting the check, it would not bother me. I try not to have many opinions on other artists. I try to allow artists to evoke the questions of ‘what if or why is that.’ I’d like to think good for them and not judge. I can’t worry about too much of what the other guy is doing.
In your opinion, what is the difference between art and trash? Art doesn’t usually smell bad.
What do you think of the art world today? I like it a lot. It is like anything else, necessary and super important.
Where do you see yourself going in the art world or personally?I want to live by myself on a mountain in a castle, have a dope studio, a dope game room, and invite people up. Have graffiti artists come up, tag up my walls, and have a big party. I see myself growing old with my paints.
How do you feel about Los Angeles?I mean I think it depends on the weather. I love L.A. I love growing up here. I love having the opportunity to go the ocean, the mountains, the desert, and I like most of the people. Most of them don’t suck too badly. People tend to get happier in the sunshine.
Where else would you like to see exposure with your work?I think the next step would be to expand to New York. For some reason, I feel the gravitational pull to New York. Also, London and probably I’d go to Paris, but New York first. I would love to hit Japan, Italy, and all these places. I can think as big as I want, dream as big as I want, but I have to bring myself back down. The artist in me will just go and then the business side of me has to go, ‘o.k. what’s the logical steps.’ New York’s a big step, but I know I can chew what I bite off. It’s grown up stuff.
How has sobriety affected your work? Sobriety has affected my work greatly. Before, when I would paint or sketch on drugs, drinking, or both, it was very narcissistic and internal. My message really had nothing to do with contributing. When I finally did pick up the can and the brush again, in sobriety, it was as if an explosion of self happened. It had nothing to do with my fucking narcissism. It had everything to do with these thoughts and passions that I needed to get out. I was like two different people.
Do you still have any of those pieces you made before you got sober and why?I have painted over one of them. People are afraid of the other one. They’re like, ‘that’s amazing, you should do more,’ but then, physically, they don’t want to touch the piece. That particular piece hasn’t sold and it’s like the darkest fucking moment in my life.
Do you ever find yourself ever drifting back into that narcissistic headspace now?No I don’t, not when I am painting. There is a freedom. The narcissism stems from the fear of being forgotten and not being enough.
Painting is my escape from my head, my fear, my ideas, and my perceptions of the world. It is literally like my labyrinth. I’ve gone from fear of the unknown to hope for the unknown.
Where’s your work going to be displayed soon; art books, shows? I have an art book that is being put together right now. There are things not quite solidified yet, but I am more interested in working with different artists. We are just starting on putting different things together right now. My website is being remodeled, but soon enough, annaDrumm.com.
What advice would you say to an artist who is just starting out?Paint, draw, sketch, dance, act, and live like no one is watching then dare to show everybody. That’s what’s it.
Would you like your work to add or guide society? I hope so. I hope to attribute to society with my work, to inspire other people to speak about their truth. We all have amazing stories to tell. Each person is so individual and unique. We can all have enough courage in ourselves to let that shine. I really hope that that is what my work is able to do.
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you want to impart to the kids?I say this aloud to everyone, as I say it to myself because I am human and have that self-doubt. It is super important not to be afraid to dream big. Do not be afraid of your deepest fear, your dark side. Do not be afraid to shine as bright as you can. You can be everything at once. Do what you love as if no one is watching and dare to show the entire world. We are all here to help each other.
Anna Drumm will be displaying her work June 7, at KGB Gallery, 1640 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. To contact Anna regarding collaboration, display, or commissioning her, email at email@example.com
Robert Amaefule Reports
Film reveals how Environmental Awareness can build the Most Unlikely of Relationships
A wondering orphan and a runaway elephant learns to respect the differences of one another to form a bond that inevitably made them inseparable in the Dove Seal approved My Lucky Elephant. Although very different, both respected the community they shared to ignited a formidable connection that initially appeared unlikely.
The moral; community appreciation can serve as a common thread in providing the wiliness to understand what’s different. This will ultimately triumph over any physical difference within an individual or group, if you are willing to appreciate and share that environment with someone.
Film director Eric Schwab took his crew abroad to capture nature at work with elephants living within their own habitat. He was taken away by the comradely between the various tribes of people who spoke different dialects and the animals within the community.
He later witnessed an unbreakable bond between two of his eventual main characters…a young boy and an elephant named Lucky. “It was breathtaking to see the interactions between the two. I knew that there was a special line of communication between the two that no one else could duplicate,” said Schwab, who also served as second unit director in Mission Impossible.
The bond was such a surprise to Schwab, he opted to limit the volume of dialogue to focus on the non-verbal connection at work between his two main characters. He also rewrote the original script to feature just the relationship between the two characters. Initially, he planned to evolve the young boy later in the film to an adult, who would have been played by a different actor. Because of this, he believes the two formed to speak a language of their own.
“I was looking to make a real world adventure that showed the beauty, the power and uniqueness of life in harmony with nature that will amaze and have people appreciate all of nature.” In the film, life finally starts to pan out for the family deprived young boy until he realizes his best friend is unhappy. After falling in love, Lucky longs to live life as a father with his newly found female companion. Realizing this, the young boy is faced with the decision of letting go the only thing he has in his life for the happiness of his friendly elephant.
“It’s a sacrifice of love that really teaches us a lesson about doing the right thing—even if that means loosing something in return,” said producer Marge Quitter. That’s something we hope stays in the mind of the young ones watching this film.”
A film set for kids of all ages, My Lucky Elephant is a film predicated on good values and an appreciation for Mother Nature. For more information on the movie, which is currently available on DVD and go to My Lucky Elephant Movie.com.