We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Vos and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anna, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I fell into hand lettering in 2016 thanks to many hours scrolling the picture app while holding a sleeping baby (my second). At first, lettering was just a refreshing break from diapers and entertaining my toddler. Soon, however, I had some friends commissioning pieces, and the Rochester Brainery let me add a Brush Calligraphy class onto my teaching schedule with them. (PS — look them up! They have tons of zoom classes these days.) I snagged a last-minute spot in a craft show at the Brainery that December with my best friend, and I was hooked. I love vending at those things — meeting people, seeing all the other incredible artists, the rush of a busy day. Rochester has an incredibly active arts community, and lots of folks show up to support small businesses!

Since then, I’ve grown my business into something I’m really proud of. I focus now more on products than commissions, and I spend time making fine art, mostly drawing fat bodies. I’m learning to let myself play, and I’m committed to exploring softness and queerness in all my work.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I started making art, I was really drawn (pun intended) to quotes from movies and books I loved. Soon I found there were two problems: 1) That work didn’t feel very personal to me. 2) You cannot legally sell other folks’ quotes, even if it’s in a movie you love. So I started exploring hand lettering encouraging words and phrases, and that really felt good.

In the years since I started this journey, I’ve unearthed my own queerness and neurodivergence. I understand myself now in a way I didn’t have access to before, because I did some intentional work to open up and make work that feels real and personal and necessary. I started going to life drawing (shout-out to my Fat Life Drawing fam!) and feeling more free to express whatever it was that was swirling inside my chest.

Now, I approach my work with the aim to celebrate and explore queerness and softness. Queerness is a gift that has asked me to reexamine many of the “institutions” we participate in in our lives. Softness, for me, is a posture of tenderness toward self and fellow humans and the world. I find when I prioritize those things, I can be kinder to myself and others and get to a place where I can create from the heart.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Rochester, NY, and we are incredibly lucky to have a lot of cool stuff! I would take my bestie to Highland Park, which is a Frederick Law Olmsted park right near my house. If they came in the spring, we could see all the lilacs, magnolias, and azaleas in full bloom! We would also have to hit up the public market, and then I’d want to take them to Good Luck, which is my favorite restaurant. If we had more time, we’d have to have some beach time at Lake Ontario, check out the Strong Museum of Play, and we’d have to get ice cream at Pittsford Farms Dairy!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been very lucky finding business coaches who have helped me zoom in on my vision and how my business works. My first coach was Erika Tebbens, who introduced me to a now-dear-friend, Megan Dowd. Both of these women were instrumental in helping me really launch a vision that had legs. This year, I joined a coaching cohort with artist Lisa Congdon, and it’s been incredibly helpful as my business grows.

Website: annaparade.com

Instagram: @annaparade

Facebook: annaparadeshop

Image Credits
First photo (of woman looking at art on the wall) is by Christian Rivera.

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