Smile Politely

WorkSpace: Kari Anderson

Welcome back to WorkSpace, a series featuring an inside look at the places where local artists and creatives roll up their sleeves and take care of business. Today, we are going to see the work of Kari Anderson.

Anderson is an Eastern Illinois University graduate, an entrepreneur, a feminist, and a curator of terrible puns. She has had many jobs and roles, but her most persistent passion is art.

“My favorite format is pencil and ink drawings, but I have dabbled in many other mediums over the years. My style is constantly evolving, as well as the frequency and types of projects I take on. Two years ago I added face painting at events to my repertoire. One week I am designing a friend’s tattoo, and the next, I am building a photo backdrop for a child’s themed birthday party. I never quite know what I will be doing next, and I hope that never changes.”

Smile Politely: When and how did you decide to become an artist? 

Kari Anderson: I cannot remember not being an artist. I was always drawing and creating things.

SP: What or who are your influences?

Anderson: So many! Cartoons, movies, anime, comic books are frequent resources. In recent years I have been inspired by Alphonse Mucha, Art Deco, Tim Burton, Celtic knot work, classic tattoo art, and a several brilliant creators on I am also constantly refining my version of an art style you may have heard of called “Zentangles”, a form of meditative, free flowing doodling.

SP: Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

Anderson: I once had the honor of picking the brain of horror comic maven Jacen Burrows, and I would love to work with him again in a more collaborative sense. He has a fantastic sense of drama, placement, and anatomy that I can only hope to one day achieve. I would also love to offer a booklet of my drawings to some of the local tattoo parlours. (Pictures of pre-designed tattoos are known as “flash”)  

SP: Tell us about your workspace.

Anderson: The majority of the time I work out of my home. We moved to this location Spring of this year. We were very fortunate that our new house has a room that I was able to convert into my own little studio. I have two desks, lots of storage space and shelving, and a window for ventilation. I felt downright giddy to finally have my own place to store art supplies and create new things. Our first two months here I barely left this room. It made me feel like I had reached an important milestone in my journey as an artist. More established, more official somehow.  

SP: Choose a piece of your art-work and explain it in detail.

Anderson: This is a rooster I painted with acrylics. I have been trying to improve my painting skills overall, and this piece in particular, was an attempt to improve my use of color. And what is more colorful than a pretty rooster? I used a stock photo as a reference;
the most beautiful and elaborate bird I could find. This painting turned out ok. I have a ways to go to get the colors as vivid as I wanted them though. 

SP: What movie would you recommend to watch and why?

Anderson: There is a French romantic comedy called “Amélie” that came out in 2001 that I just adore. I normally don’t seek out romance movies, but this one is very special. I hate when a review gives too much away, but I will say that if you enjoy witty humor, moments of poignancy interspersed with scenes that are almost unbearably cute, and the overall quirkiness of the French, you will love this movie. 

SP: What is your favorite spot in C-U?

Anderson: I have a few favorites. The Art Theater is fantastic, as well as the Champaign Public Library. I also find great supplies at the local JoAnn Fabrics, the Art Coop in Lincoln Mall, and The Idea Store. The Urbana Makerspace has proven to a great place for help and networking. 

SP: What do you think about the art scene in C-U?

Anderson: It’s super vibrant! We have so many resources and a greater sense of community than my hometown near Kankakee, IL. 

SP: Where, when and how can we see your work? 

Anderson: My deviantart page, face painting bussiness at facebook and I have done a little graffiti at The Sipyard in downtown Urbana.

Also, I have designed a tombstone for a U of I professor in Mt. Olive Cemetery.

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