Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anna Raff: "Birds and Words"

Anna Raff,

Her birds are just wonderful: illustrator Anna Raff, based in New York, works on a blog all about bird-imagery ( Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and many others. In 2010 she was recognized as one of the "Top 100 New Creatives"by CMYK Magazine.  With tradeyourtalent she speaks about bird imagery, word-play and why she wishes to be a big broadway bombshell. 

Why 365 days of birds?

I wanted to create an illustration project that would force me to draw everyday (or nearly everyday). I have followed other creatives who have started similar projects, and while it requires a great deal of discipline and commitment, the payoff is a showcase of your sensibility in the form of a very large body of work, and a great self-promotion tool. Before tackling an illustration, I like to warm up with a quick drawing or painting the subject of which is not important but I found myself drawing a lot of birds. 

Where do you get your inspiration?

For the bird blog, I drew a lot of inspiration from the English language, current events, and riffs on bird breeds. At the beginning of the project, the imagery was rather straight-forward, but as the year evolved, I started incorporating more word-play. It's amazing how rich and ripe English is with bird-imagery. I'm still coming up with ideas, even though I'm not posting one everyday (now more like once a week), the subject seems to be inexhaustible!

What are your current projects about?

I have a number of children's book ideas I've been developing, and I'm working on an identity/mascot for a start-up non-profit here in New York. Other than that, I'm fleshing out my editorial illustration portfolio...Of course, there is the occasional bird.

Your work is highly recognised. Has the path leading up to this been hard? 

It has been a wonderful ride, but one that I feel is just beginning. I was a graphic designer for 20 years before I decided to devote myself to illustration, and just making that mental switch was probably the hardest part. Illustration is much like other creative disciplines, the more energy you put in, the more benefits you reap. So I just keep plugging away...

Do you have favorite artists?

A few of my favorite children's book artists are Tomi Ungerer, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scary, Fred Marcellino... I could go on. I have to acknowledge Paul Rand too, as a designer and illustrator. When I'm stuck on something, I usually turn to him  conceptually, he was incredible. As for contemporary artists, I love Jon Klassen, Heads of State, Shout, Guy Billout (one of my mentors) and Christoph Neimann. I grew up down the street from the New Yorker cartoonist Donald Reilly, and have only just begun to realize what an influence he was.

Did you ever want to do something else besides art?

Not really, but I wish I were a really great musician...or a big Broadway bombshell. I have a lot of the ham in me.

Anna Raff,

Anna Raff,
Anna Raff,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Olivia Broadfield "Always about the melodies"

I recently discoverd Olivia Broadfield's music. British singer/songwriter Olivia combines electro-pop and smart lyrics, her new album is due out in Spring 2011.  The singer/songwriter from England started piano lessons at age six, some of Olivia's natural abilities might have come from her maternal grandfather who played guitar in the swing-era. With tradeyourtalent Olivia speaks about her new album, being faithful to what she loves and why she would like to record a duet with Shakira. 

You have been working on your second album. What is your new album going to sound like? 

It's going to sound different, quite different, which scares me! You can't stay the same as an artist but you have to make sure that when you evolve, you try and keep the fans you just made. It's much more organic, the songs feel more like ermmm songs and nothing is hidden, there are still some big beautiful sounds, but they come from harps and strings, whereas on the first album they came from synths and pads. While it sounds different, I still wanted to stay faithful to what I love about writing, which is melody, always about the melodies.

What inspires you to your songs? 

Everything, nothing. I am asked this question a lot and as yet I am still trying to find an answer that truly reflects how I feel about writing. Songs can come to me from nowhere or from the deepest parts of me, so that it feels like they came from nowhere until I sit and reflect and think uh oh, is that really how I feel!? I try not to analyse the process to much for fear of losing its simplicity.

 When are you most creative? 

You mean time of the day...time of the month!? I think it's an as and when rule with me, I can write a song if someone asks me to, I can write a song if I'm a bit bored, or sometimes it's like an itch I need to scratch. It's a total mixed bag really, sun makes me creative, as does snow, day...night, happiness...sadness. That's not to say I walk round being super creative 24/7, some days it's like getting blood out of a stone!

When did you know you wanted to become a musician? 

Hmmm, when I started getting good at it! I always loved music but I think I was a nervous beginner, I always thought I was just alright until people started telling me otherwise, until TV shows started using my music, until I got a manager, until Vagrant wanted to sign me. I had the faith that I could be good but it took a while, believe me, I have some bad albums from when I was 19 floating around out there, my sister keeps threatening to sell them on ebay...sisters are kind of mean...

If you could record a duet with another artist, who would you choose? 

Shakira, Shakira! God I love her, she is just so brilliant and also totally random, "I feel abused like a coffee machine in an office"..."lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains"...I'm not sure I've ever truly made it until I can write like that! Plus she has nice hair...

Olivia Broadfield "Daydreams"
first single from her Olivia's new album due out in Spring 2011


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