Sarah Leaman is a dear friend and artistic genius, running Brooklyn-based ANONA Studio with Renée Shortell! In 2011, the duo founded ANONA - a creative studio specializing in curated collections of exclusive artwork for the apparel and home industries. We are so inspired by Sarah’s constant creativity and talent. We got a chance to ask her about her journey with art and design! Check out her profile feature below to learn more about Sarah’s career, her creative process, and advice for aspiring designers!
Q: What first sparked your interest in pursuing art and design as a career? How has your artistic style changed from when you first started to now?
Sarah: “I have always loved to create and experiment with making things. Pretty early on I wanted to go to art school. There I developed all sorts of skills that would later help me start my design career and ANONA. It took time and a few years at my first job before I really had my style down and knew my personal aesthetic.”
Q: Can you describe your creative process for creating a new piece? How do you stay creative?
Sarah: “I am always thinking about new design ideas, it’s hard to turn off. A walk down the street can provide color or texture inspiration, but I love getting lost in a museum or gallery. People watching also provides lots of inspiration, what people wear and why. For me, follow through is one of the biggest challenges to being creative, seeing an idea through to completion. Getting started is always the hard part.”
Q: Inspiration behind the name ANONA? How did the studio come to life?
Sarah: “ANONA is a friend’s mom’s name, that friend introduced me to my business partner Renée. We like that ANONA is a palindrome and how it looks graphically. We planned for a few years before the studio really came into its own. There have been many iterations, but the change is exciting and keeps us fresh.”
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring designers/artists? What has been the most challenging aspect of your career? And most rewarding?
Sarah: “Don't try to be everything for everyone. Focus on your strengths and when you can, partner up with people who compliment your weaknesses. Continually push yourself to try new things and grow. Often It is difficult to stay focused and motivated, much of our business is about generating new and at times it can be overwhelming to design on demand. The flip side, it is very rewarding to make your own schedule and have the freedom to choose and create your own projects. It is amazingly rewarding to have a business partner who is also a close friend. While we have always worked remotely, we check in almost everyday and push each other to be our best.”
Q: If you could represent yourself as 3 specific colors, which colors would they be and why?
Sarah: “Faded indigo - Because it takes time and always looks great. Dove Grey (ANONA Grey) - The perfect neutral, sits well with any other colors, not warm, not cool. Persimmon - A perfect pop color, usually my go to lipstick or polish color.”
Photography by Sarah Leaman
Story by Renée Lee