Question I get a lot: What’s up with all of the Swedish fish in your art collection?
Answer: Well, I kind of am one.
♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡
When people ask me why I adore these mini vague blobs of fish I can’t just give them a meteoric answer. Even as simplistic and light-hearted the artwork is they touch on so many shades of my life, iphone 8 images and that makes me want to delve into the dynamics of my upbringing. Hence, this is why Swedish Fish is everything that makes up the nostalgia of my life….
Over the past 7 years I have completed 7 works of art bringing out more adoration for the brand with every painting–and, as time goes by, discovering more about my past and why I subconsciously have this propensity to paint them. As a pop-cultural artist I like variety and there are so many different things that capture my mind and senses in life that I hardly ever do the same subject twice. Yes, in case you were wondering I have pages of art ideas that are on the waitlist to hit the canvas; yet, time and my right hand can only do so much–especially when it takes me on average +40 hours to complete a piece! So, I have to choose my subject matter wisely. Mixing up the subject matter is the hallmark of my artistry. So, here are some reasons why, having dawned on me over the years, I have such a big thing for these little things. (hint: and it’s not because I like to eat them–I actually don’t like candy!)
ALL IN THE NAME
I will get into this more in my next blog “The Yester Years” but, yes, I come from a 3rd generation family of fishermen up in Alaska and my great grandfather immigrated from Sweden.
IT’S A SiiiiiGN
I have a February 22 birthday which falls in line with that little fish on the horoscope–Pisces! It’s a blessed sign and I relate to it on so many levels. Strengths or weaknesses, people like us keep on swimming no matter what and keep striving to go after our dreams! ps. Whitney, that was so cliche.
COFFEE BARISTA WORK
SEATTLE: For about two years after college I was immersed in the barista scenes of Seattle and NYC. From 2009-2010 I worked at a small boutique coffee shop on Ballard Avenue in Seattle. Just as San Francisco has China Town, Seattle has Ballard: the Swedish-fisherman section of the city. Ballard is a historical Swedish neighborhood and the old stomping grounds of fisherman coming home from sea to repair their nets and soak up city life before heading back out. My dad still brings his boat down from Alaska to do major repairs at Fisherman’s Terminal and my uncles who operate halibut and crab fisheries have built and maintained their boats in the same area.
Ballard has expanded greatly in the past 20 years–it is no longer the scrappy rugged street wise fisherman pack that roam the pavement and rule the bars. The brothels have closed down and the Tapas bars are in business. Oh, and may I not forget about the Pho restaurants on every corner (Bubble Tea smoothies anyone? yum). If you look at Ballard today, one is more likely to see your tatted-up-trendy-Trader-Joe’s-going hipster who asks for a 1.5%lowfat 2.5 espresso shot latte when they order coffee. Ok, I am sorry that’s not fair. I am totally stereotyping, however, that exact person is out there and I’ve had to make coffee drinks like that while working as a barista! Oh Seattle, stay weird. Amazon, REI, Mt Reinier, The Gum Wall, Hot Fishermen throwing King salmon across tourists at Pike Place, Mariners games, Starbucks, Space Needle at sunset, being anywhere at sunset (most gorgeous city on the planet on a sunny evening), Nordstrom, Elliot’s Oyster House (my usual dinner rolls w/butter + fresh oysters aaand you had me at hello), Puget Sound, and last but not least the little pink car wash elephant! All of my favorite mementos. XO
MANHATTAN: The song Empire State of Mind had just come out while I was still living in Seattle. I had three jobs at the time and was so focused on making money and not having a life that is was time to flip a switch and tap more into my potential making it in the art world. I had even applied for a Paralegal Assistant position (which I got laid off of 3 days later and I was so relieved because I was not cut out for that!). So I packed up my belongings, left the big stuff behind like my Acura, and set off for NYC right after New Years 2011.
The “empire state of mind” quickly faded when I got to this rough city. Never mind trying to launch an art career right away, in those first couple months I learned more what it was like to freeze my a$$ off while burning a hole through my wallet. Even growing up in AK and CO, nothing could have prepared me for the cold in NYC and I had the hardest time choosing between a jar of peanut butter or a jar of jelly due to tight living expenses. If I could sum up NYC in one word it would be #Sacrifices. The pizza there was definitely a motivator, though–something I looked forward to everyday. It would be a short and challenging stay. I wasted no time getting a day job: I landed a barista position at a new Coffee house called Konditori, coincidentally Swedish. I quickly became the manager after a couple months, as my background in Seattle prepared me to work at the bustling Lower East Side where Konditori started its roots. Since leaving NYC the Fall of 2011, Konditori has expanded in to several locations throughout the city–Greenpoint, Park Slope , Williamsburg and others. I even left my mark on the coffee house with my own Swedish Fish painting they still, to this day, have up on their walls .
Many notables came through the door of Konditori while I worked there. I remember meeting Empire of the Sun frontman Luke Steel. He was so cool: gave me VIP tickets to Governor’s Ball and I in return gave him a peice of my art for his daughter Tiger Lily back in Australia.
When he first came up to the counter I asked him “Are you Luke Steele by chance?”
“Umm. On a good day.” he humbly replied.
“Really? I was just listening to your song Walking on a Dream earlier today, too!”
Other celebs I conversed with over those months:
Elijah Wood–blue baby eyes and about as tall as a hobbit. I was so excited and told him right away that North was my favorite movie and he started laughing “No one talks about that one anymore”. Granted I had never seen Lord of the Rings so I was completely living under the rock of 90’s classics. I later found out North earned multiple Razzy awards–whatever, still my favorite!
Slightly Stoopid- they looked like a bunch of backpackers on the road playing gigs wherever they stopped. I asked them “Are you guys in a band or something?” And I think it was the frontman who was like “yea we’re called ‘Slightly Stoopid” and I just burst out laughing bc I had no idea they were serious or who they really were ” That is so funny and stupid!haha” and they started chuckling too so it was all good. I told my friends later on about the encounter and they could’nt believe I was so oblivious to the band.
Hayden Penettiere –she came in and was in a rush–“can I get change for this 20, please?” and I was like yea sure–oh you’re Hayden, love your work! She was so tiny and in a rush but was very pleasent and sweet about it!
Stacy Orrico (she was chilling outside though and never came it) I went to elementary school with her back in Seattle and she came to one of my birthday parties one time–small world!
ALL PHOTOS copyright by Whitney L Anderson