Born into a third generation Alaskan commercial fishing family, Whitney Anderson, has spent her life appreciating hard work and the western lifestyle. Although she was born more on the sea than the western plains, she has curated a unique portfolio of western inspired art pieces with an unconventional twist.
A natural born artist, Whitney never took lessons or mentored with any artists in her youth. Whitney started with a blank piece of paper. She enjoyed the freedom and creativity that could stem from a blank canvas. She began painting at 15 and even studied art at Duke University. For the past few years, Whitney has focused on her fine art collages. Bringing to life animals, people, scenes and a few stills from recycled fashion magazines.
We sat down with Whitney to talk about her creativity, art and how she is creating a new medium of western art.
A Unique Piece
CG: How would you describe your art pieces?
WA: They are abstract up front and then when you get a little away, they look like a painting. It is a dual quality. I have had people compare them to mosaic art or people have dubbed my collages as “pixelated fine art.” I have people ask if I paint it … no, I never hold a brush at all. It is completely, 100% recycled fashion magazines. I am a very raw, authentic artist and it has taken me thousands of hours to get to this point.
CG: How did you start creating animals out of fashion magazines?
WA: My first two animals I did were an orca, my favorite sea animal, and a horse, my favorite land animal. Capitalizing on that phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention,” because I was visiting out of state, I didn’t have my paints with me and I wanted to get creative. I saw a stack of magazines and had kind of seen this before, was not familiar with any collage artists, but I had a yearning to create. I grabbed a glue stick and some scissors and created my first horse, which didn’t look that great.
Process Of Creation
CG: Tell us a little about your process of creation.
WA: I source my magazines from local hair and nail salons. They know me on a first name basis and save their magazines for me. When I start doing a piece, I draw it out. I have a computer nearby where to picture is and I look at the picture, I scan the photograph and pick up textures and colors and so when I go through the magazine, I know exactly what textures and colors I am going to use… I cut and paste as I go. And I have gone through over 400 glue sticks, I should be sponsored by Elmer’s glue. It is really cool to see it come together and all the hours you put in to it is really rewarding.
CG: What is the most important part of your creative process?
WA: Being in a good headspace. Everything you create is based on an emotion. How you feel about it, aesthetically or maybe nostalgically, it means something to you in your life. It is important that you are hungry for it and dedicated. You need to have passion for what you are doing and it has to be a challenge in some way.
CG: How have your environments influenced your art?
WA: Coming from a blue collar background, I challenge myself and keep working, just one after the other. That’s half of it. I have had exposure to over 50 different countries. We would immerse in the history and the culture, so that is where I learned about having a dynamic mind set.
CG: Which artist do you admire and why?
WA: There is this man that not many people know about. He is from Russia and he does these amazing oil landscapes. I don’t do landscapes myself. You won’t see landscapes in most of my work because they are boring to me. But I love landscape artists. So I am inspired by people that don’t do what I do.
CG: What makes your art western?
WA: I have always been into horses. And once I did my first cow, I got hooked. I love their aesthetics and their face. With each collage, you can challenge yourself in different ways and it still looks like a cow. On a base level, cows represent everything in this culture commercially speaking with what they provide: milk, meat, hide. They are the all-American, quintessential animal. It’s a cow appreciation thing.
CG: What pieces are you currently working on?
WA: I just wrapped up an elephant collage. They had just gotten back from Kenya and they wanted me to do a custom piece of one of the animals. So they sent me some words they wanted me to implement. I am also starting a new commission from someone who is really into the horse racing world. They want me to do California Chrome.
CG: What are your goals moving forward?
WA: When I move to Texas, I will be a lot closer to the ground of western life that will compliment my art collection. And I think people will really gravitate towards what I have to offer. I would love to get into businesses out in Texas. I have always wanted to be hired to do art for boutique hotel hallways.