We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Kathleen Little and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna Kathleen, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Unpopular opinion: Self criticism is my super power. It can be a tumultuous relationship and one I am constantly working on with myself. I feel like the “love yourself” narrative is very strong these days (and rightfully so, times are tough) but my personal instinct is more often to think that everything I make is trash… well, not trash necessarily but more often not worthy of publication. I always say “my work dies in my living room”– now I have a creative day job which I love so I have the luxury of digging a graveyard for “inadequate” endeavors in the darkness of my own home. But as the years wore on and I started running out of dirt to dig for new graves, I realized I had built quite a body of work and as I started digging up old ideas with fresh eyes I found that the ideas were still sound… and that the execution, flawed as it was, was beautiful for exactly that reason. In the last few years, I’ve tried to take my making more seriously, bringing some of it out into the daylight to show friends and the internet. I still have layers upon layers of self criticism to work through for everything I offer up to the universe but I have sometimes find that bringing it out into the light allows my work– and more importantly, my creative process– to exist outside of a vacuum; it keeps me honest in a way. While I am always wary of outsiders’ reactions, that relationship, that criticism can be fruitful too. I deserve to evolve beyond my living room, my work deserves some daylight, but learning to take up space in that way is still very much a skill I am still honing. In the end, though, it’s not any praise or daylight or external critique that keeps me making and making and making– it’s that self-criticism that propels my work forward, keeps me reaching for something better, something new, some answers.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Oh, this is always a toughy. I have started calling myself an artist because it’s just the simplest way to answer this question. Professionally, I work mostly as a Production Designer for film at TV, designing sets and props and creating the worlds for stories to unfold within. I love my job and all the creative (and political) challenges it brings. In other news, I was born into a musical family whose true pride it is to carry a torch for the western swing genre and as the first and second generation of players of these old tunes die away, I am honored to keep the music alive. I sing and play guitar and also write and perform other genres beyond swing: jazz, old pop, folk new and old. I design and create clothing– first I did it professionally but the industry wasn’t for me so now I exercise it as another facet of my world building, creating clothes for the people and places I want become. I’ve recently delved into plant medicine and started a small tea company that focuses on the ritual/energetic medicine of herbs for body and mind. My most recent endeavor has been writing… I’ve always written peripherally but never given it the time and attention it deserves until the last few years. I have not yet had anything published but that is the next step I am mustering myself for.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok I live in Brooklyn, NY.
Just spit-balling here:
Greenwood Cemetery is the best kept secret in the city if you don’t mind being around the dead and gone. It’s a stunning testament to old New Yorks, it’s super clean, sparsely populated, and flush with beautiful architecture. Not far from there is a bar called the Sea Witch which has amazing murals, fish tanks, an awesome back yard and good vibes.
Then if you’re looking to get saucy, you gotta go to Bushwick. One of the best neighborhoods to day drink and get inspired. Incredible street art all over (Jefferson st especially). Some of the best vintage and thrift in town! And then once you’re all wound up go shake it out at the House of Yes.
If you want to head into “the city” my favorite area is downtown: east/west/greenwich village. Buvette has the best brunch (and cappuccino to rival the italians) and from there you’ve got Washington Square Park, Christopher Street (iconic queer historical area! Stonewall Inn!) and some of the oldest jazz bars in the city… 55 Bar, Fat Cats, Arthurs, Smalls…
The parks are not to be missed. People think New York is all about concrete but it really comes alive in the “wilderness” of Central Park, Prospect Park, McCarren, etc, etc where people can gather and frolic in a different way than the grid system provides.
Find yourself a rooftop and take in the view! She may be rough around the edges but this is the greatest city on earth~! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh boy– (or oh girl is actually more appropriate, haha!) I have had the great privilege in my life and career to be surrounded by strong beautiful womxn who challenge me and inspire me to take risks. I am almost ashamed to say how long it took me to realize that that was my situation– my inheritance if you will. For so many years I took it for granted, thought it was normal. It wasn’t until I started seeing it, recognizing it’s power, acknowledging its blessings, that I really started to make work– work with purpose, work that I believe in and that I try to infuse with all the power and goddess energy that has been afforded me throughout my life. And the more I looked at it– at all the nurturing mothers of my lineage, the ball-busting glass ceiling smashers I’ve had the privilege to call “Boss”, the free spirits in full bloom who have blown through my life and out on the wind– the more I look at all of them, the more I realize just how many more there are! How this network of energy really binds us. Sure, there are distractions– work/life balances, hustles, rents due, raises and losses and fallings out– but I take comfort in the idea that these connections are ancient and will withstand any storm so long as we give them space.
Emily Sierra (clouds pic, herbs with hat pic) Ariana Malik (black hat/forest pics, profile pic in desert)