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Interview with the designer of the FRIENDS OF TREES pattern, ANNA KÖVECSES

 

Organics shapes, bright colors and time spent living on a sailing boat in the Mediterranean? Yes, these all lead to illustrator, artist and designer of our new collection, Anna Kövecses!

Read our interview, as we discover the inspiration behind her designs, "work process", and Anna's thoughts on deforestation - the driving force behind our collab: FRIENDS OF TREES - THE REFORESTATION MOVEMENT Collection!

Hi Anna, we’d like to get to know you a little better, please tell us about yourself and what you do!

I was born and grew up in Hungary and spent most of the past 14 years abroad: I’ve lived in all sorts of places, including Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and even on a sailing boat in the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve been working in illustration for seven years now and started to explore painting and ceramics last year. Not going to any particular art school means that I’m pretty much always on a journey of discovery, following the road where inspiration leads me (both mentally and physically). It feels good to learn, it feels good to explore the infinite both outward and inward, and being able to translate that into a visually visible and tangible form is a huge gift.

 

What’s your „work process” like? What kind of tasks and jobs do you like the most?

Unfortunately, the usual process is that I keep overcommitting myself :) On an average day, I’m working on at least five projects at once, three of which are commissions, one is self-initiated (e.g. a painting, or right now a storybook) and one that is a total euphoric daydream (which of course usually distracts me from my other four projects, that is why my work keeps getting piled up). I often tend to experience this as a trap, but on better days, I manage to turn everything around by 180 degrees: I realize that all five projects are vital for me to function and that one can’t exist without the other. It's like a juggling act but if I can get the rhythm going, all balls stay perfectly in the air. Undoubtedly, the most invaluable part of my job is when I can give back something more than just aesthetic beauty, by communicating a positive message, or through helping others. As an artist, I feel morally obliged to speak out for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to make their voices heard.
Can you tell us a little about your inspiration for the pattern, and your view on deforestation? How do you discuss this topic with your own children?

This past year has been a traumatic one for everyone - unless of course, you managed to sleep through the pandemic, or somehow never saw David Attenborough's Netflix message. By now, I think everyone has become aware of the fact that no matter where you live, how much money you have or what the colour of your skin is, the devastating effects of humanity's selfishness, wastefulness and recklessness will affect your life too. The problems of deforestation, plastic usage, species being driven to extinction, and melting ice caps up until now, have all just been a distant, vague nightmare that we've only scrolled by on-screen. Unfortunately, the majority of people are only outraged by injustice when it happens directly to them. This was the first moment when we collectively all experienced a nightmare and now it’s up to us to turn it around together. As sad as this experience was, I think it could be seen as some kind of a gift, something that finally might be able to unite seven and a half billion people. 

 

What I can personally do, is what hundreds of artists are doing and have done in the past couple of thousand years: to express my feelings and thoughts through my drawings, and trust that my message will go through. Of course, I also try to set an example for my children through my own actions, and by explaining to them that sometimes mankind is selfish, wasteful and reckless. But at the same time, mankind can also be wonderful, ingenious, creative and selfless as a part of nature, and together we can make a positive change.

 

Here’s what Jung says about the relationship between man and nature:

 

"People who have been spoiled by too much civilization go for a walk in the woods or for a swim in the sea. They may rationalize it one way or another, but in reality, they’re shaking off their chains and allowing nature to make a connection with them. This can happen from both within and from the outside. When we walk in the woods and lie down in the grass, or bathe in the sea, it comes from the outside...but if we dive into the unconscious or get in touch with ourselves through our dreams, we are touched by nature from within, and both go through the same process: our frame of mind and everything else goes back to normal." The only thought I'd like to add is that, in my experience, Transcendental Meditation is the most beautiful way of getting in touch with the infinite ocean of consciousness that lies beyond our dreams and what Jung calls the unconscious, it’s the most beautiful way of encountering nature within us.

 

Do you have a favourite tree?

My favourite tree is in Cyprus, growing out of the tarmac in the middle of the main street of a small Greek village called Mazotos. It's about 15 metres tall, an Eucalyptus, and opposite the tree along a whitewashed wall, there's always an old man's 1982 ocher yellow Datsun parked (which might be familiar from the movie Into the Wild). For many years this was a point of orientation for our visiting friends ("Entering the village, turn right as soon as you see the huge Eucalyptus with the Datsun, on Megalou Alexandrou street") 

My second favourite is the Pine tree alley (Fenyves allé) between Keszthely and Balatonszentgyörgy. It’s not a particular tree, but a beautiful alley lined with Pine trees in the middle of nowhere. The unique alley is a grove of black Pine trees that connected the courtyard of the Festetics Palace in Keszthely with the manor in Fenékpuszta, and according to some sources it was planted in 1894 by Tasziló Festetics II, because he didn't want to take the main road named after Lajos Kossuth to his estate. His wife, the Scottish Princess Lady Hamilton, often enjoyed driving around in the area. It’s a beautiful monument documenting the encounter of man and nature. The amazing, monumental tree-lined road is the result of the defiance of Tasziló, from which man has long disappeared, but nature has remained.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I'm overstretched, as usual, I have 5 commissions on the go. I'm writing and illustrating a storybook about two dandelions, as well as printing and packaging prints. I’d like to get everything finished by the beginning of June, when I’ll be travelling to Corfu for three months with my three young children. We’ve rented a house a few kilometres from the village where Gerald Durrell spent his childhood and where his book My Family and Other Animals is set. This journey already feels so inspiring, I'm planning to dive into ceramics, drawing and photography and of course, immerse myself in the natural and cultural wonders of the island. Corfu is truly a dreamland.
“Anna Kövecses (1988) is a Hungarian born artist living between a small seaside village of Cyprus and a woodside cabin by Lake Balaton, in Hungary. Her digital collages are characterized by simple organic shapes, bright colors and an atmosphere of simple naivety. Her inspiration comes from living by the Mediterranean Sea, growing up in Eastern Europe, being the mama of three small kids, baking fresh bread in the morning, picking oranges and growing veggies in their garden. When not working on commissioned projects she creates paintings in oil, experiments with clay and diy-s little toys for her kids.” 

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