conversations with bianca

Artist & Animal Foster Carer Annie Walter: “It’s important to learn to handle rejection, art is subjective.”

Annie Walter + conversations with bianca+

I’d seen Annie’s art on gig/tour posters around town and admired it before I knew who the woman behind the kick ass illustrated images was. Thanks to Jelena from Outright I made the connection (thanks Yells!). Annie’s designed gig posters, t-shirts and all kinds of stuff for bands like Black Flag, Anti-flag, Smith Street Band, Boysetfire, Army of Champions, Jurassic 5…the list goes on. In Annie’s words contact her for all your design needs: “Posters, apparel, logos, photoshopping your head on Justin Beiber’s body, forging a search warrant for your neighbour’s house or designing a personalised centaur tattoo.”

BIANCA: You’ve recently relocated to Germany. What inspired the move?

ANNIE: Yes I have! It started as a joke between me and a friend (Hi Matty!), and I realised it was something I could actually do. My job is all via correspondence so I’m able to work from anywhere, which is incredibly lucky and something I wanted to take advantage of while I have limited responsibilities in my life.

B: Have you had a chance to get out and explore?

A: I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over Europe this year and have a trip planned to the states in a few months. I’m currently writing this interview on a bus to Budapest!* Being a freelancer means I can work from the Czech Republic one week, and Hungary the next.
*wrote half in Slovakia and finished in Berlin

Erica Freas by Annie Walter Design

B: What’s your impressions of, and experiences with, the art community so far?

A: It’s a lot larger! I’m currently based in Berlin and almost everyone I meet here is a creative. Journalists, film makers, artists, print makers, sculptors, musicians, poets, everything you can imagine. So no one blinks an eye when I say I’m an illustrator. There’s a much wider spectrum of art here. I guess it works as a cycle. The more variety within art, the more audience it creates, then the more venues that are in demand. The city recently had an art festival called 48 Stunden Neukolln. They took over the suburb of Neukolln for 48 hours and turned a lot of the venues, bars, cafes, shops, studios, and sidewalks into temporary art spaces. Artist studios in the area were open to the public, musicians were playing in canoes. It was an incredible experience. People pouring out onto the streets craving more art. The festival showed a lot of experimentation and advocated social awareness. It’s not just about creating an attractive image but making you think about your role in society.

B: Tell us a bit about yourself. What aside from art takes up your time?

A: My favourite things in life besides art are music, food, cats, beer, and bad puns! Music and going to shows is a huge part of my life.

The Smith Street Band by Annie Walter Design

B: What’s been your art journey? And something valuable you’ve learnt along the way?

A: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. I grew up with a family that was constantly on the move and we had very little in life. Drawing was something I could always do at any place or time. I was also lucky enough to always be surrounded by nature which is and always has been a huge influence on my work.

Things I’ve learnt? Hmmm…… I guess I learnt most lessons earlier on when everything was still a struggle. It’s an obvious one but I think it’s important to learn to handle rejection, art is subjective. There will always be people that don’t like what you do. Work hard and keep practising and improving and something good will come your way eventually. I used to be scared of going for what I wanted for fear of rejection but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t put yourself out there.

And I guess a more recent lesson would be that there’s always room for improvement. I feel like for a while I plateaued and my work didn’t change much. Working out what my weaknesses are (which I personal think is the design aspect of my job) and trying harder at that. Learning how to improve what you already have. And again practise, practise, practise!

B: How would you describe your art?

A: I’ve weirdly enough never been asked that! I guess clean, colourful, and detailed.

NYE Spectacular by Annie Walter Design

B: Is there any new techniques or mediums you’ve been trying out and experimenting with?

A: I’m trying to incorporate a more hand printed quality in my work. I colour everything digitally but I don’t want it to look digital. Using more textures (created from paint, worn out papers, dirt, bad photocopies, I’ve even used precious beer). I really want to start collaging hand painted elements into my designs, this is unfortunately a bit hard to do when you’re on the road and have no access to scanners and printers.

I’d really love to start creating more tactile things. I’d love to work with wood and metal. As dangerous as that’ll be for someone with my pro level of clumsiness.

B: You do a lot of posters and art work for bands, especially punk bands and tours. What do you love most about going to a show? Seen anything amazing lately?

A: I love shows that have a family atmosphere. People taking care of each other. Being surrounded by likeminded peers who have similar interests and values. Punk communities have a tendency to attract open minded people who are educated on ethical issues. I feel like the punk community in Australia is quite small, which is a really nice thing. People end up connecting from all over the country.

I have seen so many amazing shows since I’ve been in Europe I don’t even know where to begin. Some highlights were Mogwai in Hamburg, and a Laura Jane Grace acoustic show in a super tiny cafe in Berlin. Also White Lungs, Descendants, Caves, Iron Chic, H20, Lawrence Arms, and of course seeing fellow Australians Paper Arms and Smith Street Band. My absolute favourite would have been Groezrock a two day camping festival in Belgium. It was a weekend of constant beer, bands, new friends and surprisingly good vegan food.

Jamie Hay by Annie Walter Design

B: You’ve been going to punk shows since you were 14-years-old. What was the first show that you went to? Can you describe it for us?

A: It was Custard! Dave McCormack will always be the love of my life. It was everything I’ve grown to expect from a show. Making new friends, dancing like an idiot, and watching people more talented than myself.

B: In a previous interview you commented “I especially love the crazy ideas clients often send me.” What’s one of the craziest ideas a client has sent you?

A: Probably a recent job for Revellers of Canberra. I did some illustration for their new album. They put the layout together themselves. But the brief was to draw them (keep in mind I’ve never met them before) sitting at a dive bar as old decrepit men, with shoeys, strippers, local band posters, Ginga Ninja bartender, and a flasher.

B: A common them in your work is drunk animals; what attracts you to drawing these?

A: It’s been a bit of a coincidence. Mostly these have been client requests. But it’s fun to draw. Inappropriately hilarious.

Boysetsfire by Annie Walter Design

B: I know you’re a comic nerd (me too! I have a collection numbering somewhere around 500); what are some of your favourites? I saw you tweet: I have the height and comic collection of a nine year old.

A Nice work! My favourite series would be Chew. It’s a story about an alternate world where chicken has become outlawed. Instead of the DEA you have the FDA. The main character (A member of the FDA) has a special power of being able to see the history surrounding whatever he eats. The comics have a lot of posters and signs in the background filled with amazing puns and pop culture references. I also love Tekken Concrete, anything illustrated by Becky Cloonan, and I’m a massive sucker for Batman. From a story point of view The Killing Joke is a favourite and from an illustration side The Long Halloween is beautiful and original.

B: What are you currently working on?

A: I have a few cool projects up my sleeve at the moment. Working on some images for an exhibition curated by the awesome and talented Glenno Smith. The exhibition is about humour in art and my take was the ridiculous names we have for collective nouns (an embarrassment off pandas! Come on!). I’m working for a new company called Swingin’ Angels creating fun retro textile prints. My background is in textiles so this is a dream project for me. And lastly I’ve started a new collective with my talented friend from Melbourne Mark Van De Beek. We’ll be creating limited edition posters for tours or individual shows in Australia and internationally. We’ve only got a few jobs behind our belt so far but hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have a bit more of a range and be able to start selling limited edition prints online for everyone to purchase.

B: What’s something that you’re really passion about or would like to raise awareness of?

A: I’m an animal foster carer. Foster carers provide a temporary home that is safe and nurturing until a suitable family can be found for adoption. It can also provide temporary homes for animals that are not yet ready to be homed permanently due to being underage, behavioural issues, recovering from curable medical conditions, and pregnant animals.

Nearly 200, 000 animals in Australia get put down due to limited space or being unwanted. Shelters and rescues rely on compassionate people to donate their space, time and energy. There’s always a need for more carers and it’s a rewarding experience to see young or shy animals develop into sociable adults and knowing you’re giving them a chance at a good life. If you’re interested in being a carer Pets Foster Australia is a great source and if you visit their Facebook page they have hundreds of posts about needing more carers for dogs and cats all over Australia. In 2010 they helped over 750 foster care organisations save more than 28,000 pets from euthanasia.

The Flatliners by Annie Walter Design

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