Our local artists are a vital part of Quinn's Mercantile and we hope you will enjoy learning more about them. This Artist Interview with Annie Furr is a great way for you to get to know more about our local artists and opportunities to support them.
Tell Us About Yourself:
My name is Annie Furr, and I was born and raised right here in Murfreesboro, TN. I'm married to the very best husband and have three really cool kids.
When did you begin your art journey?
If you had asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, my answer was always "an artist". I spent my free time drawing pencil portraits and still lifes. Then I grew up and had to decide exactly what being an artist meant for me.
I studied digital animation with a fine art minor at MTSU, thinking that maybe that was a way to have a marketable degree as an artist. That being said, digital animation really pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me with the technology side of the degree.
Fast-forward to married life with three babies arriving within four years, and making art was really the last thing on my mind. In the middle of all the stay-at-home-mom busyness, I began to feel a prompting in my heart to start pursuing my art in a more serious way. I had no idea what that would look like, so I just decided to start trying to make the kind of art that I wanted to make, develop a style, and figure out exactly what being an artist for Annie looks like.
I started my Etsy shop, social media art accounts, and began exploring different mediums. I am now two years into this little art journey, and I am happy to say that I've learned a lot and have much more clarity about my art and my business and the direction I want to go in the future. I am an illustrator!!
What do you create?
I currently create a variety of paper goods like greeting cards, stickers, art prints, bookmarks. I like that this kind of art steps out of the gallery and into everyday life where people can really enjoy it and use it in a practical way. It takes the pressure off me to create with perfection and allows me to share my art more and just have fun.
What mediums do you work with?
Illustration frees me up to be myself, tell a story, play with different mediums, be playful and silly, and use lots of pattern and color. I mainly work with gouache, colored pencil, and artist crayon, and I frequently digitally "tweak" my art. I love the way these things can be layered. The mixed media approach gives depth, texture, and character to my art.
What does your work represent?
For me, art is not just creating something pretty to hang on your wall. Art for me is story-telling. I want my work to communicate something, to make you smile, to invoke a "me too" from my viewer.
What/who are your biggest influences?
I have always loved children's literature and illustrations and have spent lots of time pouring over books trying to figure out if I could glean techniques from the pages of my favorite stories. A lot of books have the illustrator's medium on the copyright page, so I am always challenging myself to see if I know how they created their art, and then checking the copyright page to see if I'm right.
I love the classic illustrations of Garth Williams (Charlotte's Web and Little House on the Prairie), the bright, bold illustrations of Tom Lichtenheld (Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site). Maybe my biggest influence is Mary Engelbreit and her whimsical, heart-warming illustrations. I loved her work as a child, and my high school art teacher always compared me to her.
What is your favorite piece that you've created so far?
My favorite pieces are the ones that best communicate the emotion or the story that I have in my mind to tell.
Do you have any best practices/creative habits that benefit your practice?
I can't say that I have a great routine or best practice, but I do have some things that help me get the creative juices flowing. For me, I absolutely CANNOT look at reference photos while creating. Because I trained myself at a young age to draw what I see (and that is a great skill to have!) it's so difficult for me to be able to stylize my work if I look at a photo. My art immediately goes back to its programming and comes out very realistic. While this is a valuable style of art, it is not what I enjoy creating, so I have to disconnect my brain from reality to allow my imagination to help my art along.
Art prompts and challenges are also very helpful for me because it gives me a jumping off point for creating in a way that I might not naturally do. I think the last thing is just making more art.
What is the best part of being an artist?
Ultimately, the connection that I make with others is what motivates me. I love it when people see my art, and they "get it". They laugh, and we have a conversation. I feel like I've made a friend in some small way. Most of all, I'm inspired by my own personal walk with God. I see such a connection between being a creator and knowing our own Creator. My hope is that I can always reflect that and point others to have their own relationship with Him.
The way I feel about my art is summed up in this famous quote by Olympic runner Eric Liddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” When I am creating, I know I'm following God's purpose for my life, and I can feel his pleasure.
What advice would you give aspiring artists?
The more you practice, the better you get, and there's just no way around that. Just keep making art. Don't let the approval of others determine your style or the kind of art you make. Know that it's a process and a journey and that you're not going to be satisfied and at the pinnacle of your artistic ability. I don't think I ever will be. There's always more, so enjoy the process.
What are your dream goals?
I have the ultimate dream of being in publishing and writing and illustrating my own books. Maybe I will go back and animate someday too. I've got things I want to say, and my hope is that I will be able to say them through my art.
Where can people find you and your work?
Thank you Annie! Be sure to shop Annie's artwork at Quinn's Mercantile.