We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Thane and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I don’t think this question has one simple answer. In a way, I did give up. And at the same time, I’m positive I’ll always keep going. About 12 years ago I applied for a job as a cake decorator in San Francisco at a boutique cake shop. I had never decorated a cake in my life but I figured my skills as an artist would translate. For the first time since graduating from college I needed a bachelors degree to apply for the job. I also needed to submit my portfolio. That was the first and last job I’ve ever had (and I’ve had lots of jobs) that required either a degree or proof of my artistic talents. Fast forward two years and I was managing the studio, meeting with clients, decorating beautiful cakes and living my best life as an artist. People were literally eating my art! That shop ended up closing and I moved to Los Angeles with my husband. Eventually I opened my own cake shop because I figured I could keep the dream alive and knew everything I needed to already. Well, that quickly fell apart when I realized that my passion was now my entire livelihood. I absolutely hated owning a business and all the accounting and permits and paperwork and planning that came along with it. I just wanted to paint and sculpt and bake! After realizing that my dream of being a working artist would never really pay the bills, I quit. I’m not ashamed of it. I quit my dream and sold my supplies and it was the best decision I could have made, both financially and emotionally. My new motto when starting ANYTHING is “do the math”. If the math doesn’t add up, no matter how much passion you have for the thing won’t matter, because you still have to eat and pay rent and, most importantly, buy supplies! I didn’t give up entirely though, I still paint and draw and try to get my artwork out in front of the public as much as I can. I still make money selling prints and original paintings but I’m not trying to make it my job. I paint because I can’t not paint. I don’t have any room left on my walls for new canvases but I’ve got a fresh one on my easel right now. As an artist it’s just what I do, I keep going, there really isn’t an alternative, but it might look different than it did before. And it will probably look different in another 10 years.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Currently I have two careers. For the past 4 years I’ve been doing Craft Services for commercials and photoshoots. If you don’t know what that is, I’m basically the set bartender, only I serve snacks instead of cocktails. What I love most about my job is that I get to chat with everyone on set and I often end up getting to know people pretty well. I love talking to people about random things. Whatever you feel like talking about, I’m game, let’s see where it goes! For that reason, and because I like helping people figure things out, I decided to get my Real Estate License. So I’m also a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. I think what sets me apart is my need to do the very best I can at any job I have. I don’t really see the point in doing something if it’s not going to be done correctly, or the best way, or the most efficient. I’m extremely competitive and type A, which I think has helped me in my professional careers. My clients know that they are getting exceptional service with me, and that I will follow through and go above and beyond for them. It’s just like my need to paint, I don’t have any control over it, it lives inside of me along with the need to do the best I can. Nothing has ever come easy for me. I feel like I do everything the hard way at first and I’ve had to earn every single thing I’ve ever had. In fact, I work very hard for the life I live. I think that’s just me though. Even if I won the lottery I would go on a shopping spree and adopt a hundred dogs then get back to work. Somewhere along the way I learned that all I can be is myself. I’m going to keep being myself and doing what I do until the end, and I’m good with that. But it’s also very important to keep learning. I can’t be the best at something if I don’t understand it. Did I mention I’m extremely competitive?! I think it’s important for me to keep growing, professionally, emotionally, mentally. At my core I’m just Anna Thane, whatever that is. I’m restless, pushy and optimistic.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I’m the worst tour guide there is. I’ve lived in LA for 9 years and haven’t even scratched the surface. But I do have a few favorites. First, I would insist on a hike up Echo Mountain. At the top of Lake Ave. in Altadena is a great little 5 or 6 mile hike that takes you to a spot near the top of the mountain where you can see all of LA out to the ocean, shout into an echo phone and hear the mountains shout back, and learn some cool history among the ruins of what was once a resort in the 1900’s. Happy Hour would definitely be in order after the hike at my favorite neighborhood bar, The Semi Tropic. The bartenders are some of the best people I’ve ever met, and they make excellent drinks. For dinner I would suggest any of chef Josef Centeno’s restaurants, and there are many to choose from! My current favorite is Amacita in Culver City. For dessert, and a good excuse to hike again tomorrow, we would go to Van Leeuwen for ice cream, or vegan ice cream. I’m not vegan, but their vegan mint chip ice cream is the best I’ve ever had, vegan or not.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh gosh, so many people have helped make me who I am today! My family has always been incredibly supportive of me, and my husband is my biggest cheerleader. He helps me figure out how to do whatever it is I’m trying to do and loves to talk me up to people. But, there is one person who I consider to be my mentor, her name is Shinmin Li. Shinmin was the owner of I Dream of Cake in San Francisco, where I first worked as a cake decorator. She gave me the chance to do something I’d never done before and supported and encouraged me through constructive criticism in a way no one had before. I’ve known Shinmin for about 12 years now, I consider her to be a dear friend of mine, and I still look up to her and admire her. She’s one of those people who I feel comfortable asking any question, asking for advice, looking to for guidance…and most likely ending up in tears from laughter because underneath it all, neither of us takes ourselves too seriously. Shinmin carries herself with so much confidence and has created her own successes throughout her life. I feel honored to have learned so much from her, and to continue to grow as a person with her in my life, to whatever extent that may be.