July 5, 2013

Spotlight: Anna Gogusey

Anna Gogusey of "Wanda Loves You" draws your thoughts; be afraid. 

Anna Gogusey's illustrations remind me of commonly expressed thoughts on the Modern Art movement (this isn't a train of pretentious thoughts - just keep rolling with me). I scroll through her portfolio, laughing at the captions and admiring her wit, but often thinking "hey, I thought that," or "well, duh." These thoughts often arise when people view a Warhol or Rothko, wondering why this is art because "I could have done that." But did you? Did you do that? And I think back to Anna's work and I think, "did I do that?" No, of course I didn't, because I'm not that witty, and I'm certainly not that artistic or capable of making such coherent work.

The point I'm trying to make here is Anna Gogusey's illustrations express everything you've been thinking, as you're thinking it, but before you write it down, because you didn't think that far. Luckily, she has. The captions surrounding her images of pop culture icons, bands, or subjects we encounter daily are hilarious, appropriate, and, above all, real. Maybe this is why it's so easy to fall in love and identify with Gogusey's art, because she's in your brain and it's scary but you relish it. On second thought, it definitely is. 

THE LE SIGH: Looking through the sketches on your site, your erase marks are visible, and it's interesting to see your process. How long does the average illustration take?

ANNA GOGUSEY: It's very quick. It usually takes me a while to find the idea, but once I have it, I can make an illustration in thirty minutes. I don't really sketch; I've been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, so I know what I can do, and I don't have to think about the line. That's why, if I do erase, you can see the marks, because I don't go at it very lightly.

TLS: I can tell Retard Magazine is really wonderful, but because I don't speak French very well, I'm not sure what it's all about! Could you explain what kind of things you guys publish and how you contribute to it?

AG: I originally started Retard Magazine with three of my friends; two of them were moving to Montreal, one of theme was staying in Paris, and I was moving to Texas. We figured we could write, I could illustrate, and it would be a good way to keep contact while doing something together. So we didn't have the ambition to make anything big out of it, we just wanted to write about all kinds of topics freely. Basically, we just want every contributor to write about what they like and what they think is interesting; as long as it's well written and clever, we publish it. It's usually very random, so we recently had an article about some girl's relationship with a snail she found in her lettuce, a guide to stay celibate, a whole series of articles about serial killers.

We can publish anything we want, so we do it. I'm self-proclaimed AD of the magazine, but basically, I illustrate and choose illustrations, make the posters for our parties and take care of anything visual. Sometimes I write, actually; I just finished an article on high school/coming-of-age movies. They're my other passion, after drawing.

TLS: So I know your middle name is Wanda, but how did the name "Wanda Loves You" come about?

AG: It was the name of my first blog in high school. I think I chose that name because I don't consider myself an artist. I'm an illustrator, I work for people. It's kind of about making people happy, and I needed to include that in my website name - that "you."

TLS: I love the way you combine photographs with illustrations – how do you envision the photos and subsequent drawings that surround them? Do you see a photo and the rest of the drawing instantly comes to mind or is it a more drawn out process?

AG: I can't really tell. I think it goes both ways. Sometimes I'm going to get an idea from the photo itself, sometimes I have to look for a photo to fit the image in my head. Some collages take me hours to put together, especially when they're very minimalistic, because the photo is a base I can only modify to a certain extent. I pretty much only do those collages for myself, never really for commission work. It's my personal treat to my brain.

TLS: You do a lot of illustrations for band posters – what music are you listening to right now?

AG: I've always loved music and I can't play anything, so making posters is my way of getting involved. I go through phases of bands I like, but msot of the time I listen to garage punk, folk punk, psych and that type of thing. A bit of electronic music, too. I like when people sing kind of out of key, like Beat Happening. I've been listening to a lot of Total Slacker and Hell Shovel (I like their project with Acid Baby Jesus called Voyager 8). Just heard Lorde too; she's pretty good, but I can't tell if I'm going to start hating her in a few months.

TLS: Is the sarcastic girl at the computer saying the hilariously real quips you?
AG: Hahaha, yes. I work at home and sometimes I think about something and I really want to tell someone, but there's no one around, so I just draw it and put it on my blog. I think you go slightly crazy when you work by yourself all the time; drawing it helps.

TLS: The captions you include in a lot of your drawings are often really dark but in a hilarious, sarcastic way, because they're probably thoughts most human beings have daily. Is this your way of getting it all out or do the captions just come natural?

AG: It depends on a lot of things. A lot of the captions come from songs I'm listening to, but most of the time, it just comes naturally and it's kind of concerning, if you think about it, because most of the them are a bit too dark. When I made my Deer/Too Bad poster, it was already a painful image and I made it worse with that sarcastic TOO BAD. Everyone went "but whyyy?" I don't know. Why not?

TLS: Your embroidery for shoes surrounding the SXSW festival were really awesome – how did you get involved in that? Did you get to go to SXSW and if so, what was your favorite memory?

AG: My friend Mason, who's a really awesome artist from Austin that has been working with Converse at SXSW for a few years, recommended me for the custom shop, and they were very interested by the embroidery because no one really does that. I mean, I feel like it's starting to be a little bit more of a thing now, with the comeback of the DIY culture, but it's still a lot of effort to just pick up and start embroidering. I went to see a lot of things during the festival. I think one of the best hsows I saw was Thee Oh Sees randomly playing on top of a building downtown. I just got a call from a friend at the last minute too - nobody knew they were playing.

TLS: If you could have one lady in all of history, dead or alive, sit for a portrait, who would you pick?

AG: I first thought of Simone de Beauvoir, just because I would have loved to meet her. She seemed to be very impressive, not only by her work, but her whole person. I probably would lose my ability to speak, though, or something like that, and look like a total dumbass.

But then I thought of Frida Kahlo, because I'm very inspired by her work; she was very interesting physically, and it's always kind of weird to draw another artist. I just wen to her house in Coyoacan in Mexico, and it was very moving to see all her things and imagine her life there. I wish I could have met her.

Check out Anna's site, "Wanda Loves You" here.

Written by Molly Morris