To celebrate her first year with Breed, we asked Anna Bu Kliewer what she’s been up to, and she replied with a verbal collage – A year in collage
A space in London
For the first few months after returning to London I was moving house almost every month. Then, in January I found a permanent home in Haggerston. It’s ideal because it provides me with a large area to work, and collage requires a lot of space. I usually work across two desks, at least at first, though it’s never long before I’ve covered the entire floor with paper, too.
Haggerston inspires me
I have a constant urge to create new pieces, find new images, and to source paper I can cut. I couldn’t be in a better base than Haggerston, really. The area is like a random collage in itself, as it’s so busy and filled with interesting people and weird objects. I find simply walking around offers me constant visual input, it’s an endless inspiration. When I get home after a wander I’m always full of ideas. And often laden with lots of new material I’ve picked up from all the local thrift shops and markets, too.
Yesterday I met a beautiful three-legged cat. While I was petting her a man passing by started talking to me. On his shoulder sat a parrot who kept giving him kisses. I love these moments.
I’m taking photographs again. Mostly digital at the moment, though I just bought ten rolls of film that I’m going to use over the next couple of months. It allows you to shift focus on how you see things, becoming more aware of what you’d normally ignore as mundane objects, and capturing moments. Collage and photography go hand-in-hand as disciplines, too, and I intend to use the photos in future collage works.
A to Z
An ongoing project I’m working on is an alphabet I’m creating from little collage pieces. I find typography challenging in the most positive sense, since I’m restricted by the cuts of paper I have to hand. It takes a long time to find the right shapes and colours and put them together to form a letter.
I’ve also started two series, one a collage animation, the other video collage. Both began as analogue projects, but have now entered their digital stage. I’m intending to finish both of them this summer, and I really can’t wait to share them.
Illustrating AA Gill
The most exciting commission I’ve had so far is probably the first one I got when I joined Breed last September. It was for an AA Gill feature in The Sunday Times Magazine. That was a pretty good start.
A new discipline
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy working with a brief. Visualising words, and creating a pictorial version of the story is fun, especially because my clients give me a lot of freedom, and trust in my creative process and interpretation. Plus, working on editorial pieces has taught me to rely on my ability, as the tight deadlines stop you from overthinking and you have no choice but to trust your intuition.
I don’t watch clocks
Being an illustrator is not a Monday-to-Friday 9-5 job. You work long and strange hours. Though that’s not necessarily a negative, as it also gives you more flexibility in your personal life, which is something I really appreciate.
I can do my work anywhere, as long as I have my suitcase full of paper, scissors and glue with me. And that means I can travel and still work.
Returning to Cape Town
The flexibility my work gives me meant I was able to spend April back in Cape Town. It was lovely to be in the sunshine and to see my friends again. And the beautiful landscapes of Cape Town are always an inspiration.
A sense of freedom
I find changing my surroundings once in a while is very useful for my creative process. That’s my excuse, anyway. Travels are adventures for the mind, eyes, nose, ears and taste-buds.
Travelling in my head
My travelling experiences can then be translated into visual works, taking my surroundings in and abstracting them in your mind. Not that I have to go anywhere – even looking at images in the books I find can be a vacation. You are traveling to places mentally.
This summer I’m planning to travel through Europe, including Germany, France and the Netherlands. And the thing I’m most excited about is celebrating my birthday in Paris.
Portraits and details shot by Cat Garcia.