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We Talk To Artist and Creative Rosie Anwara

Felt based, pun laden, nostalgia inducing objects with added glitz.

POSTEDBYNATHAN TUFT

Rosie Anwara is a UK based artist whose colorful and vibrant pieces take influence everything from TV and media to food and nostalgia. With a unique style, Rosie creates art in its purest form, showcasing intricate detailing and skill, coming together to produce bold and signature pieces. Fizzy Mag caught up with Rosie this Summer as part of our Female Creative series to discuss her journey to date, the process and her brand and business...

You went from creating pieces for yourself to eventually selling your work online - did that shift in direction impact the way you worked and create?

Creatively, I only made the things I thought were funny and wanted for myself. When I realized that other people actually wanted to own my pieces as well, I put a lot more thought into it. I’d never make anything that didn’t resonate with me, but I try to think a bit broader. In terms of the way I work, I definitely put more pressure on myself. I’m a self-doubting, perfectionist, so those traits bring their own challenges! There've been many situations where I’ve almost finished and then start unpicking stitches or repainting sections. I often ask my boyfriend for advice before I rip something apart because he can usually pull me back and help me see that the imperfections are what makes it unique.

The other thing I had to get better at was taking process videos/photos. I usually just go for it and once I’ve started, I hate being interrupted, but I realized people like to see behind the scenes. I can easily spend 10 hours making one piece and I think being able to see how it’s done helps to demonstrate the time and skill that goes into each one.

In the first months of being a business, what were your early challenges and barriers and how did you overcome them?

My biggest, ongoing challenge is time. This isn’t my full-time job, so trying to squeeze Rosie Anwara in alongside work, social and general life stuff is hard. I really want to be able to say yes to everything but it’s just not possible. Being creative brings me the most happiness though, so I make the time and I’m always working on getting a better balance. I’ve still got a lot of barriers to overcome but I try not to let them worry me and always remember, this is supposed to be fun!

How would you describe the aesthetic of your work for someone who had never seen one of your pieces before?

Felt based, pun laden, nostalgia inducing objects with added glitz.

A lot of your work has been based in nostalgia - especially in your recent felt work with your take on Frazzles and Space Raiders packets - how much does it mean to you to connect with your childhood and how have others found this work?

To be honest, I don’t think the things that inspire me were necessarily a big part of my childhood. The odd thing stands out…but my inspiration comes more from stuff I love now. I’m not embarrassed to admit I still eat Monster Munch, Frazzles, Space Raiders and Rainbow Drops, probably more than when I was a kid! And I love packaging, especially old school stuff. I recently said to a friend that my packaging-based designs are like the Lidl versions of branded products. I’m the Lidl of the felt world.

That being said, I love that other people connect with them or have Frazzle based memories. It’s always nice to get messages from people explaining why something has resonated with them.

 

“I never abandon anything - trust the process! Even when I think something isn’t going to plan, I keep going and it always works out”.

 

I imagine your felt pieces must take a while to make - does this mean that you have to be certain on what you want to create and what is the process before you actually start making a piece?

I usually collate ideas in a notebook over time, then I have an X-Factor style showdown until I have a solid list I’m happy with. Part of that process is thinking about the construction. I studied Fashion Design and Marketing at Uni and we did a fair bit of pattern cutting which I hated and I still do. So working out the construction and pattern part is my least favorite, it’s quite technical. If I’m unsure or it’s a new shape, I’ll make a practice one out of scrap fabric but most of the time I just dive in headfirst.

Once I’m confident it’s going to work, I finish the design. Often my boyfriend helps out with type as he is a typography wizard and I have a few hilarious and clever friends I turn to if I need help with pun ideas. I call my friend Laura my ‘Punsultant’. The only bit that isn’t fully planned is the embellishment. Sometimes you think sequins are going to be perfect but for one reason or another, they aren’t, so I make those decisions as I go.

I never abandon anything - trust the process! Even when I think something isn’t going to plan, I keep going and it always works out. The ones I think are going to be shit, usually become my favorites.

What do you feel has been your biggest achievement to date and why?

If I had to pick, the moment I felt proudest was the first time I worked with Vans. I’d only made a dedicated Instagram post about two months prior, I was still really anxious about putting myself out there, my brain was going into overdrive wondering what people thought...so it was totally validating to get a commission from a brand I love like Vans. I also got to work with my late friend Ralph on that project so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

You’ve been lucky to work with brands such as Size? and Vans in the past - how do you feel working with larger brands and does the creative process change for you in your mind?

Thus far my experience has been amazing, I’m given briefs and of course the design is collaborative, but I generally have the autonomy to do whatever I think works. The process is slightly different because I have strict deadlines and something I’ve learned working with big brands is that they typically have very short lead times. It’s tough because I don’t ever want to say no, but it has meant working through the night - more times than I’d care to admit! 

If you had to pick one piece that you have created as your favorite (tough I know!), what would it be and why?

It changes every time I make a new batch! I absolutely love anything with a rhinestone, they’re so sparkly in real life and I’m a proper magpie when it comes to shiny things. I do love the ‘Brighter Days’ Rainbow Drops, I used a few different techniques to make them and was surprised at how well they came out. They were inspired by my mum and my boyfriend’s mum so they were already meaningful to me, then I found out how much they meant to the person who purchased them, so that makes them extra special.

 

“You’re getting something undiluted, unique, straight from the brain of a creative” 

 

What current creatives do you see who you look up to and who do you get inspiration from?

I am inspired every day by other women who are doing their own thing! My mum, who has worked tirelessly, running her own gallery for over 25 years. Laura (Petite Ganache), who designs and makes beautiful clothing for kids whilst being a mum herself. Isabelle White (Image Gang), we worked at Carhartt at the same time back in 2013 and to see what she has achieved is just incredible. My close friend

Gabs (Wellness by Gabrielle) who, despite setbacks, has been such a positive force in my life and pursued the thing that truly brings her happiness. Paola Ciarska who paints the most incredibly detailed scenes, full of unapologetic, confident women. She actually inspired my UFO cow abduction! The list is endless.

With this being something you do outside of a full-time job - what do you think it would take for you to dedicate all your time to the business and why?

Right now, disregarding time constraints, I’m pretty happy. I love my job and I love my creative thing and manage to keep a happy balance between the two. Maybe once life starts to go back to normal, the allure of a social life might make things trickier, but for now, I’m not desperate to change anything.

Having Rosie Anwara as a side business keeps the joy in it too. I worry about the added pressure of being self-employed, I don’t ever want being creative to lose its shine! I’m not saying never but…not right now.

You recently partnered with A South London Makers Market to sell some of your pieces - how did that partnership come about and why do you think it's so important to support local and small businesses?

It was actually my friend Paola who recommended it to me, I applied and was fortunate enough to be chosen. Daisy and Liv who run ASLMM have done so much for small businesses, so I was chuffed to be a part of one. It’s important to support small businesses because you’re supporting an individual, a real person who has taken a big leap, someone who has put their heart, soul, savings (!) into their dream.

But it’s not one-sided, when you buy from a small business, you’re more often than not getting a product or service that was created with more care, quality and attention than a giant corporation would ever commit. You’re getting something undiluted, unique, straight from the brain of a creative. These are the people setting the trends for bigger companies to pilfer.

With the world returning to some semblance of normality over the next few months, what are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

First and foremost, I’m desperate to see my two best friends, one lives in Melbourne and the other in L.A., so we’re all hoping for a miracle! Aside from that, I just can’t wait to feel settled. I hate this feeling of limbo, not being able to plan or properly look forward to anything. I’m going to be moving house soon so more space for me to create felt tornados in will be amazing.

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