Creative Space with Jennifer Logue

Annika Connor On Allowing Yourself to Shine as an Artist

May 19, 2024 Jennifer Logue
Annika Connor On Allowing Yourself to Shine as an Artist
Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
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Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
Annika Connor On Allowing Yourself to Shine as an Artist
May 19, 2024
Jennifer Logue

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On today’s episode of Creative Space, we have the pleasure of speaking with Brooklyn-based artist, actor and screenwriter, Annika Connor.

Primarily known for her watercolor and oil paintings, Annika also writes screenplays and sketch comedy, and was recently elected to the SAG-AFTRA board for New York.

She’s the owner and president of Active Ideas Productions, an arts organization whose mission is to serve the artistic community by facilitating the presence and publication of young talented artists and educating the public about their work.

In addition, she owns Annika’s Artshop, an online boutique for clothing, homeware, gifts and more featuring her paintings.

We cover so much ground in this episode, including what makes a great studio space, advice for artists just getting established in New York City, and the parallels between painting and writing,

For more on Annika Connor, visit: annikaconnor.com.

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit:
eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit:
bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Introduction

1:44—Pool parties in Manhattan

2:45—The story behind her breathtaking “Mimosa Forest”

5:35—What makes a great studio space

7:39—Productive insomnia

8:22—Working with who you are as an artist

11:33—Annika’s early life

15:00—Studying at the Art Institute of Chicago

16:44—Some ideas require paint and others require words

22:47—What Annika loves about NYC

36:00—Annika’s creative process

41:21—The richness that comes with struggle

49:00—The greatest challenges in her career so far

56:00—Annika’s advice for young artists




Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

On today’s episode of Creative Space, we have the pleasure of speaking with Brooklyn-based artist, actor and screenwriter, Annika Connor.

Primarily known for her watercolor and oil paintings, Annika also writes screenplays and sketch comedy, and was recently elected to the SAG-AFTRA board for New York.

She’s the owner and president of Active Ideas Productions, an arts organization whose mission is to serve the artistic community by facilitating the presence and publication of young talented artists and educating the public about their work.

In addition, she owns Annika’s Artshop, an online boutique for clothing, homeware, gifts and more featuring her paintings.

We cover so much ground in this episode, including what makes a great studio space, advice for artists just getting established in New York City, and the parallels between painting and writing,

For more on Annika Connor, visit: annikaconnor.com.

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit:
eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit:
bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Introduction

1:44—Pool parties in Manhattan

2:45—The story behind her breathtaking “Mimosa Forest”

5:35—What makes a great studio space

7:39—Productive insomnia

8:22—Working with who you are as an artist

11:33—Annika’s early life

15:00—Studying at the Art Institute of Chicago

16:44—Some ideas require paint and others require words

22:47—What Annika loves about NYC

36:00—Annika’s creative process

41:21—The richness that comes with struggle

49:00—The greatest challenges in her career so far

56:00—Annika’s advice for young artists




Jennifer Logue:

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Creative Space, a podcast where we explore, learn and grow in creativity together. I'm your host, jennifer Logue, and today we have the pleasure of chatting with Annika Conner, brooklyn-based artist, actor. And today we have the pleasure of chatting with Annika Connor, brooklyn-based artist, actor and screenwriter, primarily known for her watercolor and oil paintings. Annika, as I mentioned, also writes screenplays and sketch comedy and was recently elected to the SAG-AFTRA board. She's also the owner and president of Active Ideas Productions, an arts organization whose mission is to serve the artistic community by facilitating the presence and publication of young, talented artists and educating the public about their work. She also owns Annika's Art Shop, an online boutique for clothing, homeware gifts and more featuring her paintings. I'm so excited to have her on the show. Welcome to Creative Space, annika Hi. Thanks for having me. Oh, it is an honor and it's been so long. I feel like we've known each other for many years, yeah it's great to see you again.

Annika Connor:

I'm really I'm glad you invited me onto this and I think it's great what you're doing oh thank you.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, I remember the first time we met was your pool party Way back.

Annika Connor:

Those are so fun. Pretty amazing party.

Jennifer Logue:

I mean, who knew you could have a pool party in Manhattan, you know?

Annika Connor:

You know that was an annual tradition for nine parties. You know that was an our thread of connection too. There was always, you know, because it was an ongoing event, it kind of built this momentum, and people that went the past year brought new friends, and I always, felt like I only knew a third of the people.

Jennifer Logue:

They were packed. They were so much fun, um. So I gotta ask where are you calling from today? And let's talk about that painting behind you, because you painted it and it is beautiful oh, thank you.

Annika Connor:

Um. Well, I'm calling in from Brooklyn, new York, and um from my studio here and we're in front of one of my, um, well, a fraction of a much larger painting. I'm sorry I can't get the whole thing in frame, but it's a 60 by 72 inch oil on linen, uh, called mimosa forest. You can see, like my duck down, you can see a little bit more. It's a gorgeous, also a directional piece, um, so it can be hung horizontal or vertical and it's, um, yeah, uh, just a, a piece that I I like. I'm quite happy if it remains in my studio for a while before it goes off to its permanent home, because I I enjoy looking in front of it too.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, I gotta say, just like the minute you turned on your screen, this painting just brought me so much joy. It's just like lighting me up.

Annika Connor:

Oh, I love it yeah there's actually it's called Mimosa Forest because I was hiking in the south of France in a mimosa forest and mimosa trees they don't actually look exactly like this, but, um, that what was really remarkable was when I was was hiking with my mother and it felt like you could just it's hard to articulate, but it felt as though there was a soundtrack accompanying our hike and it was this symphony being created by the thousands, if not millions, of bees that were at work, and, um, the sound and the energy of that was just really overwhelming, as was the beauty of the like yellow flowers and green leaves and blue sky. So when I went to paint it it became much more gestural, and it's not this is what the trees look like, but I was really focused more on kind of capturing that energy of this sort of humming life that was, you know, obviously from the bees but also from the trees, and just also then kind of filled our hearts and spirits as well.

Jennifer Logue:

So, um, I can feel the energy from the painting and just for me, talking about that, I have a picture in my mind but like there's movement in the painting, yeah, it was a really beautiful day because the mimosa forests they bloom in February.

Annika Connor:

So seeing like color and flowers and hearing bees and blooming in February, as a New Yorker it was such a refreshing change. You know I, you know you really felt like you were outside and in a new, in a new world.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, so beautiful and what a great memory too. Yeah, so I was watching a video. You do a video on your website of your beautiful studio space, and I think it's every artist's dream I don't care what kind of artist you are, but to have a space of your own. Want to talk about that, like what makes a great studio space for you?

Annika Connor:

Well, I mean, I think space is the primary part of what makes a studio space great. You know, for me I love my studio, but I still wish it was bigger. And you know, I think almost every artist, unless they have, you know, thousands, thousands of square feet, they just keep wishing they had more and more and more space, um, and in New York, space is a real luxury. So, um, you know, but for me I also need really good lighting. Um, it's I have, you know, daylight is is essential, of course, but I'm a night owl.

Annika Connor:

So, you know, I find that I replaced all the bulbs with daylight balance bulbs so that, even you know, I can make use of that time that I call productive insomnia. You know so because, of course, in an ideal world, you wake up at dawn and you paint with natural light. But I'm not the type of person who's really productive first thing in the morning. I'm much more productive, um, in the wee hours of, you know, past midnight sometimes. And um, rather than resist that, I've just sort of learned to lean into it. And it's a trend that perhaps the pandemic made worse, you know, when there wasn't a need to go anywhere for quite a while, it definitely accentuated any insomniac tendencies one might have. But you know, I think that as long as you're working every day and you know you're progressing towards your goals, it doesn't really matter what time of the day that is. So at least that's what I told myself to justify my crazy schedule.

Jennifer Logue:

It's funny you said productive insomnia, because that's what I'm dealing with right now and it really started since the pandemic. I just like clockwork, I wake up at 2 AM and I thought it for the longest time like trying to figure out ways to force myself to just sleep a solid eight hours. Um, but now I just I'm like okay time for me to to get to work. I'll just like work on writing, I'll work on songwriting or um, and then I I go to bed at like six for another like hour.

Annika Connor:

I know. I mean, I'm sure doctors would disagree, they would say unhealthy. You know I should, you know, curb these trends. But I think, being an artist, you don't really always have the same routine as everybody else, and you know, I think that learning how to work with who you are, it gives you a chance to find, like, how you can create a method that is productive and positive and allows your talents to shine, is productive and positive and allows your talents to shine, and so I think artists are used to not forcing themselves into traditional molds, so if that happens with sleeping hours too, it's still not the worst thing. I, you know, I have no medical degree, though.

Jennifer Logue:

I mean no one bothers you at that time.

Annika Connor:

Yeah, yeah, but you know, I think I mean there's certainly times when I have morning appointments and then that you know hadn't leaned in quite so hard to my insomnia, but it is what it is.

Jennifer Logue:

We make do. We make do on those days. On those days that's when I have like my half-calf coffee, I'm like, all right, no decaf this morning, this could be half caffeine at least.

Annika Connor:

Oh gosh, I never have half caffeine, I have like full, full espresso all the time.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh man, I miss it. A long story, but last year I decided to cut down on caffeine big time, just to help with the sleep. But guess what, it didn't work. So anyway, here we are. But what other elements make a great studio space for you?

Annika Connor:

I mean, I think it's really important when you're working with oils to have good ventilation. So that's important. I have, you know, I'm lucky with windows, but I also have a system, you know, very expensive charcoal air purifier and you know, safety with fume, you know. So that's that's important and every oil painter should have something like that in place. And you know, make sure you're not sleeping in your workspace, you know, so that you have doors that you close between your bedroom and your studio and things like that. Um, uh, you know, and other than that, I mean, I I think it varies for individuals. So, you know, other than light space and ventilation, um, you know, it depends on what you're creating. I have, um, flat surfaces for when I'm working with watercolor and.

Annika Connor:

I have easels um for when I'm, you know, working with my oils. And then you know, of course, your materials, which is always key. You know, good quality materials make a big difference. It you know. It's worth the expense sometimes, I find.

Jennifer Logue:

But you have to invest in your art. The tools that you need, yeah, um. So this is creative space, and I like to go way back to the beginning of a person's creative journey. Was painting your first creative outlet?

Annika Connor:

Yeah, I always loved painting. I started painting when I was a young girl and, um, I just and I just, I don't know. I've always been really visual and painting was something that my father actually introduced me to. He had a friend that was a painter and I'd go over to her studio and I'd work with her and that was amazing. But even as a kid I was always really attracted to acting as well and I and I loved comedy. Growing up too, you know, my brother and I were like such Peter Seller fans and you know we we would like, at inappropriately young ages, be watching Saturday Night Live. And you know, I think that for certain people your personality is established at a pretty young age. You know and what you're attracted to, and other people have to search and find what they love and it takes them longer to get to it. But you know, it's just varies. You know my brother and my sister, they're both doctors. You know, it's just very.

Annika Connor:

you know my brother and my sister, they're both doctors and they both always wanted to be doctors and they are, you know. And I always wanted to be an artist and I am, you know. In a way that's a blessing, because it can be hard when you're when you don't know what you want to do. I I've seen friends struggle with that. That's a challenge in and of itself.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, for sure, were your parents creative.

Annika Connor:

Yeah, yeah, my parents were creative and my grandfather was a huge influence on me. He was very interested in art and a big art collector and exposed me to art a lot at a young age. And you know my mother she does incredible seamstress projects and my father does sculpture. You know I grew up around being around art, you know, believing that that was an acceptable career path, which I think is actually fairly unique. A lot of people discourage their children from that, but I was fortunate in that it wasn't a battle I had to fight.

Jennifer Logue:

That's amazing. Yeah, I mean, I think that's something that's starting to change like, especially with the internet now, like I think there's this opportunity for young people to see how other people make careers out of their art, you know, and like it's totally possible. So and we'll get more into that later in the episode, because that's a question that I get asked a lot like you know, how do I make a business out of this or how do I support myself? You know, and that's you've figured it out you know you've built a career, an incredible career, in New York City over the last how many years? I mean, how many years has it been?

Annika Connor:

Oh, let's not discuss.

Jennifer Logue:

We won't talk about that.

Annika Connor:

Years and age, I work in Hollywood. We don't, we don't?

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, yes, we don't talk about that. No, no, we are.

Annika Connor:

we stop at 21 here, so at least I do we admit to being at least over 25 so we can do alcohol commercials?

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, that's true, yeah, 25. Maybe I'll raise mine to 25. So I saw that you studied painting and performance at the Art Institute of Chicago. First of all, that is a full plate. But what was that experience like? That's so unique to me to study both mediums like that in school.

Annika Connor:

Yeah, I mean, in a way it was actually. I mean I studied painting and performance, but it was really more painting and philosophy. I spent a lot of time studying philosophy in college. I was really fortunate I had an amazing philosophy teacher when I was there and that kind of goes into painting and performance, but so that was huge. I mean painting, I think, was more of my focus. Then Acting really came later, when I came to New York. I enjoyed performance art, but I never wanted to be a performance artist.

Annika Connor:

That's different than film and TV. It's a whole different kind of body of art. I want to dissect the differences, because I'm not sure I'm the best person to explain that differences, because I'm not sure I'm the best person to explain that, but um, but I think that attraction to the stage and um, and the idea that you know there are different types of audiences that I wanted to engage with and different parts of my imagination that I wanted to explore was always in early on. Um, it took a while to figure out. You know how to articulate that and how to understand that and you know, accept calling yourself as pretentious as it sounds, a multiple, disciplined artist, you know. But um, I think that's really what I am um. I've come to learn that some of my ideas require paint.

Annika Connor:

Some require screen time, some require words, and I try and honor each idea in the way that best suits it.

Jennifer Logue:

That is great advice. I was actually just thinking about this today for myself, because you know you, because you you create across mediums, so some of my ideas just aren't suitable to a song, you know, and sometimes there's a guilt that I get. Um, I'm like, oh man, I should be focusing on one thing right now, like here. I have an idea for a short film I wrote a script for I'm. I can't do that and work on songs too, but can?

Annika Connor:

we? I mean, I think it depends. I've had a lot of people tell me again and again pick a lane, pick a lane. You know, and I think you know there's a lot of people that want to restrict who you can be or who they think you should be. I do think that you get delayed career success when you're pursuing multiple directions and you know it is maybe hubris to assume that you're going to have the amount of time needed to get really good at a variety of crafts and mediums. But on the same level, I think that if you're devoting your life to pursuing your creative ideas and dreams and ambitions and you feel called in one direction, then and I think it's you know you owe it to yourself to explore that and to not, you know, fall into this fear of like well, I don't know how to do something. You know, not knowing how to do something is simply just a matter of figuring it out.

Annika Connor:

Just because you don't know how to do it right now doesn't mean you can't teach yourself how to do it. Do it and you know, I feel you know, constantly challenging yourself to learn new things is a good thing to do. But I'm sure a lot of people might have a counterpoint to that where you know there's that expression that you know I have more respect for the man or woman with one idea that gets it done than the person who pursues 15 and does nothing.

Jennifer Logue:

And there's.

Annika Connor:

You know I'm sure I'm misquoting that quote, but I'm just the gist of it, and I think there's a danger to burning the candle on both ends sometimes.

Annika Connor:

So you have to figure out what balance works for you. You know, and everybody has a different way of thinking, and some people are really good at laser focusing on one direction. For me, I find that my paint needs time to dry, and so it helps me to like have something else to do while my paint is drying. Quite literally, I love it. And I find that if I'm seven days a week in the studio, I get too self-critical and so stepping off to set for a few days or focusing on writing for a while, um is great. And then, um, I get almost what I call like itchy fingers, where I just feel like really like I need to paint, and I go back and then I'm even more productive in the studio than I would have been had I been sitting there in front of my easel for the you know that whole time trying to force something to work that really just needed to like dry so I could step away from it.

Jennifer Logue:

Um yeah, I find that the different mediums that I explore too, it feeds. They feed into each other to keep the flow fresh. So that's like something else I've come to accept. Um, but I haven't had too many multidisciplinary artists on the show before, so I'm like, oh my gosh, anika is someone to talk to about this, because she knows You're wearing a lot of hats.

Annika Connor:

You know, and I think that that's something I enjoy, but it doesn't necessarily make it better or worse, it's just something I felt really pulled to and compelled to do. Um, I also find that you know my method for oil painting. Um, this painting isn't the best example of it, but, um, a lot of my other paintings use old master techniques that involve layering, glazes and stumbles, and so when I say they need time to dry, like you literally have to let one layer dry before you put on the next one. And same thing with watercolor, like one area actually needs to dry or the paint will run into it.

Annika Connor:

Uh, so you know I don't work in a, um, very fast method in the studio. It's very labor intensive and it's very time consuming, and I quite like that. Like in this world where everything's immediate, I really like that it takes a long time to pull an idea out and have it articulated, and there's something precious about that for me. And so you know that that working method means that, even if I'm not bouncing from medium to medium, I usually have at least six to eight paintings going at once and I'm not like, if one isn't working or needs drying time, then I just go and I work on the other one, so it's never just one painting. That's maintaining my focus.

Jennifer Logue:

Incredible, oh my gosh. So okay, let's go back to life in New York City. What made you move to New York City? I mean kind of an obvious question if you're a visual artist, but I want to ask it anyway.

Annika Connor:

I mean New York City made me move to New York City. I mean, I don't know, I think that sometimes, like I, really, you know, one of the career jobs I'd love to land is being on a commercial for New York City tourism. I love this city. It'd be so easy to write that script and sing its praises. I don't know, I love this town. I've lived in a number of cities and New York is where I found, you know, my home and my heart. And never to say that, like I won't ever live anywhere else, but in an ideal world I'd always still be able to have a home in New York too.

Annika Connor:

There's just something really spectacular about this city and there's an energy, I mean certainly within the art world. It's the center of the art world. Um, when you mentioned my um in my intro, I'm I'm just a member of the New York local board. I'm not the national SAG uh board, but the New York is the second largest film community in um, uh, the U? S, and it's, I mean, it's amazing, it's uh, you know, the the energy here, energy here on that level is incredible and the talent that's here and is really remarkable. And the city itself just attracts people who believe that the impossible is possible. So you're surrounding yourself with you know, equally passionate dreamers and people who are willing to work really, really hard for whatever. That, in a way, that's um, I don't know that you can find in every other city, you know, I I know that each place has its charms, but I love the like bar of excellence that New York just sets for you, and you have to work to achieve it because otherwise you can't stay.

Jennifer Logue:

That is very true. That is very true.

Annika Connor:

I feel like when you're self-employed and you don't have a boss, new York city can be my boss. You know it can be like you got to get up and get going and get out there and you know hustle because the city's not going to let you not do that. You know hustle because the city's not going to let you not do that. And, um, you know it provides its challenges and it pushes you to be I mean, at least for me, it pushes me to be the best version of myself I can be.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, I love that. I I love that idea that New York is your boss, Like that is brilliant.

Annika Connor:

I used to describe new york as my like really expensive mistress. That like took all my money, but I didn't mind, and new york will do that to you too.

Jennifer Logue:

Um, but oh my gosh, it's an amazing city. I do miss it. Sometimes I think about moving back. Um, how did? Okay, so this is a big question. But when you first got to New York, like what were the first steps you took to get yourself established as an artist? You know because you went to the Art Institute of Chicago you did yeah.

Annika Connor:

So when I first came to New York, um, you know, I I my first month, I was actually really lucky because I was house sitting for my cousin.

Annika Connor:

She was, um, uh, traveling and needed somebody to house it for her, and she was an artist two-side studio space and I wasn't sure if I was gonna stay.

Annika Connor:

I had been, um, I had spent my junior year of college abroad, living in Barcelona and I loved Barcelona and I really wanted to go back and my plan had been to, like, go back to Barcelona, you know, and um, and then the opportunity had come up to spend, um, a a month in New York and, of course, I said yes and um, I was really enjoying it here and, um, I asked New York for a sign, if I should say, and I found really enjoying it here.

Annika Connor:

And I asked New York for a sign, if I should say, and I found $20 bill on the sidewalk which I at the time interpreted to mean, if I stayed here, money would come to me. In hindsight, I think it meant that I would probably lose or spend a minimum of $20 every single day, but that $20 on the sidewalk made me feel like, oh, I got to stay in New York, obviously, and so I, you know, I started looking for an apartment and I ended up renting a place that I found on Craigslist with a friend of mine who was an artist. It later it was a fully furnished three-bedroom on the Bowery um and on a fifth floor walk-up, and after living there for a few months, we later found out that we were involved in like an illegal sublet situation.

Annika Connor:

Oh, my gosh okay we've been paying rent, but apparently those people hadn't, and we started getting eviction notices, and so I actually left New York for a little while and I moved to London because another situation kind of arose that pulled me over there. But I missed New York and so when the chance came to come back, I did, and I've more or less been here ever since then, a couple of, you know, brief hiatuses and things like that. But yeah, there was, I don't know, there's just something about, you know, I wish that I could say, like, do this and do that and you will have success, but unfortunately it just doesn't work that way.

Annika Connor:

In the creative field and it, you know, you have to figure out how to pursue, you know, your career and your dreams and your desires, with no set of instructions, uh, because there isn't one, and uh, there's often a lot of luck and people that you know um, helping. So, you know, the best bit of advice I can say is to start connecting with talented, interesting individuals, you know, as soon as you can when you come to town, which means like, don't sit at home, like go out and enjoy the city, like you didn't come to new york, to like sit around and be like lonely, you know um you have to you and when you don't know very many people in a city, you have to be a bit brave and go to things by yourself and put yourself in a position where you can meet strangers and, you know, connect with them and have fun and you know, opportunities arise from that. I also attended like a ton of free lectures. I have this part of my personality that just like really enjoys taking notes.

Annika Connor:

So I totally hear you there. I would go to a lot of the like lectures that the library would have or other. You know there's a art galleries having an art talk or you know, and I I just feel that the city offers you so many opportunities to learn from amazing individuals in your field and you just have to show up to go to them. You know a lot of them are even free and you know the few that have a ticket price. It's usually accessible, it's like 10, $20 sometimes to go to something like that. And so I went to a lot of things like that and I I called it my imaginary university and um, just ask questions and um, and and really just learned what the city had to teach me in many ways, um, but there's not.

Annika Connor:

You know, the frustrating thing about working in the arts is, at every stage of your career you run into that like I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to take it to the next level. I don't know how to make this thing that I now want to do happen or move. You know you're on this tier of the ladder. How do I get to that one and what do I do next, and there's not a straight path. So, um, you know, your, your creative mind has to work for you beyond just what it is you want to create. You have to figure out how to, um overcome challenges and, uh, create your own answers to that question, because it's uniquely different for each individual yes, so true, you have to do that, and the answers are there, like they're within us.

Jennifer Logue:

You know, um, it's just, uh, it's a unique path, as you said, for every single person I think there are a few like things that you should do, though.

Annika Connor:

You know, if I was giving advice to people, um, if somebody's trying to do a favor for you, don't make it difficult for them. You know, I've I've often run into situations where you're just like what, why is this person making it hard for me to help them? You know, um and uh, if somebody asks you to send them something, do it right away. Um, be prompt and professional. Even though you're an artist, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't, like, have your shit together, you know. Have your, have your bio, have your um images photographed and presented Well, have your. You know, if you're acting, have a good headshots. You know, if you're asked to send in an audition, send it in as soon as you can. Don't wait till the like very last minute, um, and I think people are so used to coming across people who are unprofessional in the arts that when you actually are good and professional, that um really puts you in a unique position. Also, when you have a chance to work with a curator or a gallery, like, recognize that they're working for you, but you also need to work for them, you know, and it's a, it's a relationship and it's not just one-sided. So you know you need to help them bring in an audience and you need to help sell and you need to. Nobody's going to do the things that you want done for you. You have to do them.

Annika Connor:

And, um, I think you know, if you do quickly establish yourself as a good and reliable and easy person to work with, those same people will want to work with you again. You know. But if you're constantly canceling or saying you're going to send something and then not, and they have to send like five emails to chase you up and they, you know, have to. You know you're supposed to deliver your painting and it's still not there yet. Or you're supposed to pick it up and you still haven't come, or you're late to set, again and again and again, they're not going to want to work with you. And that makes sense. And you know nobody's entitled to anything, and that's really true when it comes to success. So you know, if you want it, you got to work for it.

Jennifer Logue:

That is great advice, anika, and I think there are many creatives out there that need to hear that, because something that I like about the work that I've done in advertising is that it showed me the business side of creativity giving myself deadlines on things that I'm doing and things of that nature. But I think it's very easy for artists to like get so caught up in the art that they forget about the other stuff, but it's a business still.

Annika Connor:

Well, if you want to be successful at it, you know, I think you have to accept the fact that, like, maybe that's not your strong suit, but you still need to figure out how to make it and how to do it. You know, when it turns to the PR or the marketing or the writing or the press releases, or you know, obviously the making of your art is probably what you enjoy doing best, but all the rest of it contribute to your ability to sell your work and continue to afford to be able to make it. So that's a part that you have to figure out how to do too, and I think, because New York is so expensive and hard to survive in if you aren't willing to kind of push yourself that way, it taught me really quickly that that was an essential element, you know, to getting things done. Was, you know, follow through professionalism?

Jennifer Logue:

That's great advice on creative space. I love digging into the creative process of different people we have on the show. So what is your creative process and I'm sure it's different for, like different paintings you're doing but as a painter, like what's an overview that you get an idea like how does it happen? How do you make something like what we see behind you happen? Like that is just incredible.

Annika Connor:

Well, I mean, I think that you know my creative process is actually pretty similar for all the mediums that I work on. So, um, you know, you have an idea. Um, sometimes you step into a moment that inspires it, like the story I told you, with the painting in the background, um, with my writing, um, a lot of times my ideas come to me, my dreams, um, and I keep notebooks by my bed so that I, you know, write down my thoughts and remember them. Um, but you have an idea and then for me, um, I have to work hard to like block in the structure for that idea. So if I'm approaching a screenplay, you know, I give myself a real frame to hang the story on and I rely very strongly on structure and then I create all the fun and variables within that structure. And with painting, it's really similar, really similar.

Annika Connor:

I, um, I often start, um, I I often have a very um strong, uh, underpainting that I'm working with. Again, the painting behind me isn't the best example of that, but with my watercolors and some of my more figurative works, um, uh, that are using more old master techniques, you know, um, with with those, with, I will, with the watercolors, I'll, I'll draw in a really faint um. I use a red graphite pencil. It doesn't interfere with the paint, but I give them myself really faint guidelines. And with um oils I paint um a brown gesso, you know, um uh, I toned my canvas first and then I go in with light and shadow and I really start to block in just the very basics and I give myself a lot of structure and um create sort of a monochromatic ground and then um eventually layer in color and detail, and so that's pretty similar to the writing. It sounds different, but you know, when I'm formulating the story, I have to kind of find all the pieces and how they block together and then I can kind of come in with the fine. You know paintbrushes and detail to give it. You know paint brushes and detail to give it.

Annika Connor:

You know the nuance later, um, and for me, because of all of the ways that I work are pretty complicated and complex, um, time is a really important element, um, I spend a lot of time on my projects, um a the nothing I do is fast Um, and I have to give myself firm deadlines for certain things so that I continue to push myself forward. Um, but I also, you know, I think it's. It's really important to understand that you can't expect something really great to come if you don't give it a lot of time and attention. Um, perhaps you know some people are more talented than me and they just work really fast or they've got great stuff coming out all the time. But for me, I need to make mistakes and I need to correct them and I need to build on what I've done before and fine tune it as I go. And that method works for me and it's not fast, but I like the results that I get in the end, so it's worth it.

Jennifer Logue:

And you love the process too. It's like you've got passion for it. I feel like when you love the process, that's all that matters.

Annika Connor:

I mean, you do and you don't. Like, I'm not gonna lie, there's a lot of times along the way where you just hate what you're doing. You know, like I, you know, you just think you're absolutely the worst artist, writer, actor, whatever. You've no idea what you're doing, you want to tear your hair out, you're convinced that you're totally terrible and, um, um, but there's this, I think you, you have, if you have to push past that point, you know, you accept that that part of self-criticism.

Annika Connor:

It comes along at a stage when everything looks ugly and if you push past it you can get to the really good stuff. If you stop really early on, before you get to the ugly, oftentimes the work can be shallow or flat or or, you know, be less interesting. You know, um, it might be tempting to stop when it seems like, oh, this is good enough, but the complexity is often where the interest comes. And so you know, there's a richness that happens with struggle and that shows in, you know, in words and paint and many, many elements, and it creates something that people can kind of relate to. Maybe they don't know why, maybe they don't sense that, but there's still this pull and um, there's a magnetism that you know comes when somebody can sense that there's been meaning imported into something. And you know, I think that it's a little bit of magic. It's hard to explain exactly, but makers who are listening to this probably know exactly what I'm talking about.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, when you push through, like when you take the time to really dig in, ask the questions like, struggle a little bit with it, struggle a lot with it, do that ugly part, you know, don't give up too quickly or complete it too quickly, like you're right, the art's less interesting when you stop at a superficial level.

Annika Connor:

I think, particularly with storytelling, there needs to be nuance. You know, and my paintings are very narrative, so you know there's that element. You know that is true with the painting. But with the writing, you know, you have to kind of layer in this what's the backstory to the character, what's? You know, maybe, maybe that's not everything that you end up reading on the page or you end up performing, um, but knowing it and doing that work, that maybe the audience doesn't see, but it comes through anyways, that that has a lot of value, um and uh, you know why are they behaving this way? Or and and with paint, you know, if you're challenging yourself a lot, um, as an artist and you're pushing yourself, um, then you probably will run into the stage where you kind of hate what you're doing at a certain point in time.

Annika Connor:

Um, maybe not, you know, but I do, um, and I'm not really interested in just like continuing to make the same painting again and again you know, I, um, I find, I find that the the part in the studio is that chasing that idea and you finally articulate it and you push through and you get it, that satisfaction of like accomplishing what it is. You really wanted to see it, you know it makes all the struggle worthwhile that's so cool.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh my gosh, I love how you equated well. You drew a comparison between painting and writing, because I never thought of writing that way, like as like painting layers, but I love that visual. For all the writers out there, myself included um, that makes interesting writing too yeah.

Annika Connor:

I think I see a lot of parallels between the mediums, since I work on you know, right, um, but um, I, you know, I, I think that, um, and there's a lot of complexity in an idea and if you find enough ways to highlight that, it becomes more and more interesting. It's like a diamond when it's just rough, it's not really sparkling. But when it's cut in many, many ways and the light hits it from many different angles and it becomes more and more complex, then the gem really shines.

Jennifer Logue:

That's a great analogy. Another great analogy, anika. Oh my gosh. Now back to your painting. I know you work on a few paintings simultaneously, but is there a particular theme you're exploring right now or a particular piece that you're really excited about?

Annika Connor:

Um, no, not particularly. I mean, at the start of the year, I usually like to start new work. So I'm at the stage right now where I'm just like stretching Amazon, which is tedious and not very exciting. I'm going to have to do a lot of stretching and priming and, uh, get things ready for the next um, the next uh round of of of paintings. I want to start, um I, I have some ideas that I'm working on, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, it is all good, we'll have to have you back on.

Annika Connor:

yeah, stay tuned um, my once, I, once I get them at a place where I can show them. You can see them, at least online, you know, on um, my instagram or my website, um, but I, I do have something that's brewing, that's intriguing.

Jennifer Logue:

I'm excited to hear about it and see them when they're ready. Um. So I read that you're also a certified improv actor with the Upright Citizens Brigade. How has studying improv um helped you grow as an artist across mediums?

Annika Connor:

Oh, I mean, I think everybody, regardless of if they want to be an actor or not, should study improv. It's such a great way of learning how to think and be quick and respond and really listen to what somebody else is saying so that you know how to react to it and um, but when you're doing it from a place of, and then I want to make it funny, um, you know you also have to be willing to just fall on your face and not funny and fail miserably, and willing to accept that that is also part of the process and that creates a little bit of toughness in you. You know, which I think is really helpful, and you know laughter is so it's so beneficial, whether somebody is doing it for a career or just for fun. It's a great, great, great skill to acquire, and a lot of people that studied there were PR or advertising people or lawyers. It wasn't only actors that were there, but I loved my time at UCB. I was encouraged to go there because I was doing some work in that space.

Annika Connor:

Um and uh I it's such a. It's such a fantastic learning environment. It's so playful, it's so fun. Everybody that you meet there is usually really supportive because they also understand like being. So. You know, um, and you know the thing is is like comedy doesn't always work. You know, even on the highest levels, um, what makes it to air sometimes. It's just like disastrous occasionally and um, uh, you know so when you see that, that it can fall apart. You know, even on on the top tier level, you know, you, you have to be willing to kind of like, do that um on on the little student stage and, um, it's fun, it's really great, so cool.

Jennifer Logue:

Uh, what have been the greatest challenges in your career so far?

Annika Connor:

I mean, I think surviving as an artist and New York city is a pretty big challenge. That's a gigantic challenge getting health insurance.

Annika Connor:

You know, um, those, those, those really basic uh challenges like never stop being challenging when life keeps throwing things at you like pandemics and stress, and uh, you know, um, you, you know you might, oh, I've got it all made and then the gallery we're working with will close. And you know, there's always there's that ongoing like just struggle that never really seems to stop. It keeps the pressure on. But then my own like personal challenge I think that was the biggest for me was I got really badly injured in 2019. And so I was in a wheelchair after a ski accident for three months and I had to spend February to May. I was in the wheelchair and I wasn't allowed to stand. So I lost all the muscle in my leg and it just turned to bone and I had to then do physical therapy from May until September, october of that year to walk again.

Annika Connor:

That was really hard, um and uh, it was. It was really really difficult and um, and I had after that, um, you know I had to. I was supposed to have a surgery and a follow-up surgery in March of 2021, but the pandemic so that got moved to 2022. And then I was back in the wheelchair again. And I had to do the same thing again physical therapy and walk again. Same thing again physical therapy and walk again.

Annika Connor:

And um that very real struggle, um, uh, to to pick myself back up, and um, was very difficult, I mean, I, I was fortunate because it was never in question. Would I be able to walk again, you know, and I was lucky that I knew that I could. Would I be able to walk again, you know, and I was lucky that I knew that I could? But, um, that I, I mean there were times when I'd be trying to walk home from physical therapy and I would just like be sobbing on the street corner, you know, and um, you know, but it was also. I think there were so many good things that came out of that pain and that struggle because, you know, I can see now that I wouldn't have done X, Y or Z had I not been in this situation.

Annika Connor:

And, um, you know, I think when life throws you really big challenges like that, it teaches you where your strengths lie, and you know, and it also gives you a lot of empathy for other people.

Annika Connor:

And, and one thing about being, like, very visibly injured Um, so, you know, apart from being in the wheelchair, I went through stages where I had a leg brace and crutches, and then I had cane and I had service dog, or I had cane and service dog or one or the other, but that all like went on for really just until very recently, when I could finally do stairs without my service dog or my cane, Um, and when you have something that people can see right away is quote unquote wrong with you.

Annika Connor:

Um, this amazing thing happened, where people stop, like create, carrying around this mask of strength all the time, and people would be really open with me about their own struggles and they would share with me, like, the things that were hurting them that you couldn't see, and they would tell me about, you know, struggles they had with health or mental health or injuries that they've subsequently recovered from. And people started being really vulnerable with me and being really open and honest in a way that I think you know. Sometimes you know, you don't always show that faith to the world, and so that proved to be a real gift. The world and um, and so that proved to be a real gift and um, and it was so nice to know that you know you're not walking alone in in this and world and that you can rely on others and they can um help to lift you up, and then you can help to lift others up and um, uh, you know I I think that was um a really beautiful thing that came out of that time.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh, thank you for sharing that. That's, um, I have to say I've had a similar experience with I'm not sure if you knew this, but I I got diagnosed with epilepsy like eight years ago and it changed me. But I think you know, I know this sounds, you know some people might be like change you for the better. What are you talking about? That's like really serious, but it really I've grown so much as a person and the empathy part, oh my God, like I'm so much more empathetic. I don't think I was very empathetic before that, like I. Um, anyway, that was a great insight, annika, so thank you so much for sharing that.

Annika Connor:

Yeah, and you know, I think that you know when you do go through you know a big health challenge, whatever that looks like for for people with different things. Um, you know big health challenge, whatever that looks like for for people with different things, you know. You know you can't say, oh, this made me better, this made me worse, or whatever it. You know you can't control what happened to you or, but you can control your perspective that you take on the situation.

Annika Connor:

You know, so you can, you can control, can control like am I going to, um, be really like down about this? Is this gonna, am I gonna let this weigh me down or am I going to try and find the silver linings wherever I can and look for how do I like, in this situation, to work for me? Um, and you know not to bring it back, but my, the reason why some of my paintings are multi-directional paintings is I like that when you change the way you look at something visually, it reminds you that it's your choice how you see a situation. You know and that is something that it can be hard to change your perspective. This painting is really big. It's hard to move it and hang it the other way, but when I make that effort then I see something new. And so those are, you know, a visual analogy for things.

Annika Connor:

And you know, I think when we're in this day and age where everybody's really polarized, it's easy to kind of get blindsided in the way that you see something and be certain that that's like the only way to look at it. But I think if you want to be mindful of other people's perspectives, you can kind of try and walk around. You know whatever the idea is or whatever the situation is and ask yourself how could I look at this differently? And you know whatever the ideas or whatever the situation is and ask yourself how could I look at this differently. And you know, it might not change your ultimate opinion, but you might see something different.

Jennifer Logue:

If you could give three pieces of advice to young artists out there, what would they be?

Annika Connor:

Well, I think the first one, about professionalism, I would, I would say, is still true. Um, you know, I think it's a mistake when people rely solely on being like, oh, this is my Instagram and they don't have business cards and things anymore, because there's a value to having your own mailing list and a way of contacting people, um, beyond a social media platform that may or may not exist in years to come. Uh, so, you know, I think that old school uh, you know, create a mailing list, still have business cards has worth. Um, uh, I would say, um, have fun with the path that you're on. You know, don't be too weighed down by the expectations that others put on you or that you put on yourself. Remember that you know you chose to do what you wanted to do, because you wanted to do it, and make sure that you enjoy it as you go. You wanted to do it and make sure that you enjoy it as you go. You know you might run into challenges along the way, but, you know, have fun with it on on every stage. And you know it's a gift to be able to pursue your dreams and, um, enjoy that.

Annika Connor:

Um, so that would be like my second part of advice and, um, I think my third bit of advice would be to surround yourself, whenever possible, with people who, um, are either more successful than you are or who lift you up, um, or who inspire you to be your best version of yourself.

Annika Connor:

Um, you know, you can often there might be people in your life that you can't, you know, control them. Being there, that pull you down, but you can recognize those people and limit your interactions with them and, um, choose to spend time with the people who, um, you know, help you to be the best version of yourself and then be that person for those people as well, because I do think that you know you are affected by who you spend time with, and you know it's easy to sometimes get sucked into being around people who are easy to sometimes get sucked into being around people who are, you know, maybe parting their life away or doing too many drugs or alcohol, or they're, you know, really hurting with depression, and you could be there for a friend like that. But, um, you know, I think it's also good to be with people who lift you up and, uh, you know you can lift others up too, you are the company you keep.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, you know. So that's great advice. What's next for you? I know you're stretching canvases, you're preparing all of your paintings.

Annika Connor:

Yeah, well, I have a screenplay that I'm trying to sell, so I hope what's next for me is that I'll sell that and get that movie made. It's been doing the festival circuit and been getting a lot of interest and awards so far that way, so I hope that getting that project actualized is in my future. And I'm working on developing some other projects. I'm working on developing some other projects and so those are definitely going to get a lot of time and attention this year and they one of the projects is real overlap between all my ideas, so it's getting a lot of my focus right now. Okay, and then I don't know what's next. You know that's the most exciting thing about starting a new year is that you have this blank slate in many ways ahead of you, and it can be really exciting to see what the year brings. So you know this conversation is happening in early January, so that freshness is um, is is still right here and um, hopefully there'll be a lot of fun things to report in 2024.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh my gosh, I'm feeling the energy already. I loved this conversation, annika. Oh, you are a gem. You are just fabulous. Thank you so much for being on the show. Oh, my pleasure, it's really nice talking with you. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Annika Connor:

Oh, my pleasure. It's really nice talking with you. Thank you for your time and your interest. I hope that some of my thoughts help somebody else with what they're thinking about.

Jennifer Logue:

For more on Annika Conner, visit annikaconnercom and annikaconnerart or annikasartshop on Instagram, and thank you so much for tuning in and growing in creativity with us. I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode, what you found most interesting, what you found most helpful. You can reach out to me on social media, at Jennifer Logue, or leave a review for Creative Space on Apple Podcasts so more people can discover it. I appreciate you so much for being here. My name is Jennifer Logue and thanks for listening to this episode of Creative Space. Until next time, thank you.

Artistic Creativity and Studio Space
Balancing Multiple Creative Mediums
Navigating the New York Art Scene
Advice for Creative Success and Process
Improv in Artistry and Adversity