The first time I laid eyes on Frieda Anderson’s work, I was instantly in love with her work.What a feast for the eyes! The colors, the designs, the quilting, words can’t describe this wonderful artist’s quilts.
You see her work everywhere, magazine covers, articles, books. You can hardly open a quilting magazine without finding an article featuring her. And for good reason, she has perfected a style that is bright, fresh and contemporary.
I love the economy of her style, it reminds me of Asian art. Not in the sense of the subject matter. It is the elegant simplicity. She has put exactly what needs to be into the composition, anything more or anything less would lesson the work.
Frieda dyes her own fabrics, the backbone of her quilts, fabulous intense colors. She shares her in a number of excellent books, ones that you will want to own if you are considering dying your own fabric. Her blog with useful information and help as well..
I think you are going to enjoy this interview with Frieda Anderson.
1-For many new artists it is difficult to find their own voice and not simply emulate those whose style they admire. Your style is uniquely distinctive, what has helped you to develop your own voice & perspective?
I think there are many factors that help an artist find their own voice. First you need to learn your craft and be able to do the things that you can visualize. I have sewn since I was a young girl and that has helped me to be bold when it comes to making my quilts because I am not afraid to try a new technique or push my own abilities. Having said that I think it is more than acceptable to stand on the shoulders of those who have come before you. If there is a technique that you want to learn, take a class from someone who teaches it, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, learn from the best and then take that in the direct you want to go in.
You also need to do LOTS of work, explore lots of avenues and settle on things that really appeal to you and then make things all the time. Designer Bruce Mau says, “If you like it do it again, if you don’t like it do it again.” Good advice on many levels. If you have made something and when you are done you look at it and think I should have done that, then make it again and do that.
I make what I want to make, not what other people want me to make.
2–How have you handled the business side of your career?
The business side of my career has grown gradually, which I think is a good thing, it allowed me to grow with it. It is probably the hardest part of what I do, because I have no training in accounting or book keeping or business. I ask lots of questions of other people in the same situation as me and see if something they are doing will work for me as well. I also belong to several professional groups, PAQA, Professional Art Quilters Alliance, and SAQA, Studio Art Quilts Associates. Both of these groups are designed to help you promote yourself as an artist and to help you network with other artists like yourself.
I try to stretch myself with marketing ideas all the time. I also vend at several shows a year and that helps with exposure to the quilters as well as to do lots of face time with quilters to know what they want and are looking for.
I write articles about what I do and submit them to magazines several times a year. I keep my webpage current and have a daily blog that showcases my work and techniques.
3-What has been your proudest accomplishments to date?
Several of my quilts have won major awards and that always feels great when your peers acknowledge your work, but I think what has made me the proudest are some of my designs that are innovative and different. They may not have won awards but I feel there are good and I am happy with the finished project.
4-What do you do for fun [besides quilting]?
I like to knit socks, I garden a little bit and my husband and I like to go “antiquing” so I can collect tatted hankies. He looks for furniture and other items. When ever we are traveling we always seek out the antique malls.
5-Who or what has had the most influence on your work?
My first influences were Amish Quilts and I still love them. The use of color and design is very exciting. I love the simplicity of their work and dramatic color choices that often happen in the older quilts.
I go to art exhibits and art museums as much as possible and I love to go to bookstores and just browse around. I read about lots of different kinds of art and artist.
6-How would you describe your quilting style?
Free Form, not only is my machine quilting free form but my quilts are free form. They develop organically, usually from images of nature that I see every day.
7-Describe your self in 5 words.
Simple, determined, kind, caring, easy going
8-What has been the biggest obstacle in achieving your success?
9-Besides your obvious talent, what do you feel has been the most helpful in achieving your success?
People who have gone before me and shown me the path to follow. Friends that are also in this business and are sharing and kind and a desire to achieve the success that I want. Believing in your self is a big part of being success. 90% of success is just showing up. I work everyday in my studio, I go to work at 7 in the morning and work until 5 or 6 at night, often later after dinner as well. This is my JOB so I have to be diligent to put in the time.
10–In creating a new work, what part of the process do you enjoy the most?
Picking the colors. I really love color and working with it. It is the most joyful part of my day, dyeing fabric and seeing the beautiful colors emerge on the cloth. I dye a little every day that I am home. I use my own hand dyed fabrics in my work and often am experimenting with color combinations.
11- Do you tend to have a detailed plan worked out before starting a new quilt, or do you work “on the fly”.
I do both, but I have to have an idea to start with. Sometimes I will just play with the fabric and wonderful things will result. I find it hard to have the time needed to just play. You have to be willing to fail in order to be successful and you have to be determined and not give up when things don’t work out they way you thought they would. Some of my biggest success came from failing and trying again.
12-Do you find it difficult to balance your quilting career with your personal life?
Not really. My family is great, they know that I am booked out a year or two in advance and will always ask me my schedule before making “family” plans. I feel blessed that I am able to do this as a career and hope to be able to continue to travel and teach until I am ready to retire. I just taught at the NC quilt symposium and Suzanne Marshall was there teaching. She shared with us that she is 72 years young and still loving this job.