Wholehearted Wednesdays with Anna Nunez
Hi Anna! Please tell us a bit about you and your story. By the way, your illustrations and design work = so beautiful!
Thank you so much for the kind compliment to my work! It means a lot that I’ve been asked to take part in this interview series.
The way that I got started as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer was kind of through a beautiful series of open doors that I stumbled through, into this profession and my journey has been anything but predictable since. I honestly thank God for the way everything panned out, and I pat myself on the back every now and then for having the confidence to just keep questioning and keep asking how I can channel a love for all kinds of fine art into a job that I can do every day. I think both of those things are what still keeps me going every day - my faith in doors that have yet to be open and a belief that my purpose is to use/challange/grow my creative talents in this life.
A little back story for that: I fell really in love with artwork and creating things at a super young toddler age (bless my mom) and then from those years onward, there was never a time when I wasn’t thinking about art, art class, what I could make etc. Around my junior year in high school, I learned what Anthropologie display coordinators were and became hooked on sculptural installation and that job as one that I would one day have - just because I knew it was a guaranteed way that art could be applied to a career.
Then I moved away to college for an art major, had one of those Mr. Miyagi professors for drawing and printmaking who pointed out a talent that I didn’t realize I had, for pen and ink line drawings. In the midst of a semester that I was hilariously broke, I opened up an Etsy shop to try and sell some prints of my ink drawings. The sales never came in, but I think that shop for forcing myself to share what I could make, with my community of friends and those online. I did a couple wedding signs, hated them, some custom prints and then a logo design.
The logo sparked some ideas about how I could utilize my drawings for brands and then at around the same this idea came up, I met the most wonderful gals (via Instagram - whoop whoop) who owned an agency in my hometown. After a summer spent at home, after an unofficial internship-turned friendship, I ended up coming back to college with all kinds of lessons and advice on how I could work as a freelancer. It was was a straight up miracle. And I’m crazy thankful for that experience.
So afterwards, I got married, came back to college, graduated (this spring, woo!) and now I’m doing my best to apply what I love so much about art making, to projects that serve really meaningful and tangible needs in the lives and dreams of others.
"So as a whole, my journey has felt really unpredictable and a bit scary a lot of days, but I’m thankful to be where I’m at - learning new stuff every day, working on projects that I love with incredible people, and striving to keep moving forward down this path."
As creatives, fear is no stranger to us. How you do deal with the voices of fear and self-doubt?
Oh man, fear is a real deal monster in my mind - and it probably comes from my inability to control what comes next (or what doesn’t). I can’t say I’m great at dealing with it sometimes - bless my husband for his patience - however, when I am up to the challenge of facing my fears head on, it usually gives me confidence to remind myself that there’s only one of me, and only I can see the world the way that I do and make things the way that I can. If that doesn't help, I call mom (lol), then I really do feel better.
And whenever self-doubt creeps up on me amidst the fear, I find that doing my best to turn my phone off and just leave the house really does help me calm down, because I think sometimes social media can sweep over me in a tidal wave of comparison and self-doubt.
Can you share with us a big struggle you had along the way and how you overcame it?
Thankfully I can’t really pinpoint one big struggle that I’ve had in the process of being a creative - just a lot of consistent little ones (so I’m not sure which is better).
Financial struggles, relationships that came and went, getting through college, shitty bosses at shitty part time jobs, financial struggles (yeah I’ll say that again), and the technical stuff that comes with trying to legally be self employed (ugh, taxes). I’m sure there are more, but these just come to mind.
What is the most rewarding part about what you do?
The continued relationships and the kindness that I’ve felt from the people I’ve met and work with has to be the most rewarding part of what I get to do. Keeping up with past clients/turned friends online, receiving mail from them (mostly with merch that they got our designs printed on - which feels freakin incredible), and hearing about their lives after we’ve worked on something together, when we no longer ‘have’ to chat, is always the sweetest!
"It means that our time together meant more than just creating a thing - it was about collaborating and being creative together."
What kind of impact do you want to make on the world and/or in your community?
Impact is a tricky thing because it can take so many forms in the realm of art and design. I think all of us really want to be noticed, to be valued or appreciated, and to create the kind of work that touches someone - so that they want to invite it into their lives. I want all of those things in a really genuine way - because those are simple measures of success that are going to make me feel like what I’m doing has a purpose and an impact on people.
On a deeper level, I hope that my drawings and designs can always be a means by which I can show people kindness, and honest love - and that it in turns becomes a blessing to people (in or outside of my community) and brands (small or large).
The online world can be a noisy place sometimes. How do you stay authentic and true to who you are?
I think, and this is easier said than done, that you’ve got to know when to turn the noise off. I find that authenticity is a really really hard thing when I’m paying super closely to people (on social media mostly, but in other places as well) who are producing work that can exist in a very similar place as mine. At times I’ll have consumed so much stuff out there on social media, Pinterest, hipstery magazines, that it becomes tempting for me to feel like it’s going to be impossible to create anything original at all. Because, hey, it looks like everything’s already been done when you live in that space for too long.
So in an effort to keep myself from going to that place, I really have been trying to pay more attention to the art and design that I consume on a daily basis. Inspiration is good, but it’s also good to look for in places that you won’t have the temptation to copy it. Hence, I’ll keep up with sculptors, bakers, videographers, coffee shops - places that all utilize art and design principles, but maybe aren’t doing hand-drawn lettering and graphic design for folks. And I’ll also do my best to simply go outside, and let myself observe what’s going on around me. Good stuff almost always comes from that route.
What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received from someone else?
I had a professor in a college printmaking class whose favorite mantra to repeat over and over was “work leads to work”. Kind of a cryptic saying but real deep, if you spend some time unpacking it. In the context of our classes and the way he’d use it, the saying would most often have to do with the fact that one hit wonders are 1 in a million when it comes to studio work. You’ve got to be willing to put in a good amount of initial work (time spent making stuff that down right suck), if you want to increase your odds at walking away with the kind of work that you’re actually proud of. And so I’ve applied that to lots of areas of my life - as the saying refers to good things requiring time and investment before they’ll appear before you.
Can you share your own nugget of wisdom with our readers?
I’d ask your readers to keep in mind that there is only one of them out there in the world - only one version of a person who sees, processes, creates the way that they do. And so embrace that mindset and apply it to whatever place/situation that they’re at in life.
"Each of them have a way of doing something that no one else would, so let that drive the dreams, the brand, the talents or passion, etc."
(Editor's note: Love this advice, Anna!! So good and beautifully said.)
What’s next for you in your journey? How can we support you, and where can we find you online?
You can find a collection of my designs/illustrative work online at my site, Anna Nunez - I’m always stoked to collaborate with new people on their ideas.
And to keep up with me on the day to day, you can check out my Instagram, @annannunez - where I post a lot of my recent projects, photos of my house, husband, travels etc. :)
The next steps that I have lined up in my journey right now are all just building blocks on this whole ‘make artwork for a living’ thing I’ve got going on! I do my best to draw everyday, I have projects and current clients that I’m working with on some exciting things right now (which will be up on Insta once they’re wrapped up) - and I’m in the midst of partnering with my mother right now to launch something really sweet in the way of handsewn women’s clothing (so do keep up with my Insta if you want to be in on the reveal of that later this year!)
Thanks so much for letting me interview you, Anna. One last question before we leave, what does being a woman mean to you?
To me, being a woman means taking yourself seriously, and owning what your purpose is.
Rapid fire Q’s:
- A woman who inspires me: Tiffany Mitchell @tifforelie
- Favorite place to hang out online: DeMilked
- Best book I ever read: Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle - hands down.
- My core values: My faith, my husband, my family, my community/friendships