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Meet Anna Koon of a2n2 in Jamaica Plain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Koon.

Anna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
From the time I was in diapers, I was always creating. My parent wasn’t quite sure where I got my artistic nature, but they were determined to cultivate it. My father encouraged me to apply to the Rhode Island School of Design, where I received my BFA.

I was born while my father was at Harvard Business School, so throughout my life he gave me good advice about being an entrepreneur. I formed my first business at thirteen-a day camp in my parents’ backyard. I solicited the help of two other neighborhood babysitters, and together we made hundreds of dollars that summer.

Art school did not provide a lot of guidance when it came to owning and operating a business, so I have made it a point to learn from every job I have had along the way. I feel you can especially learn from the bad ones: Make note of the mistakes being made. Over 15 years ago I started doing freelance consulting for small businesses in Boston. I took the practices and principles I was using on the job and applied them to my art career. Treating my art career as a career transformed everything. I became more intentional about every component of operating a creative business. I found people were receptive to what I was doing, and pleasantly surprised at the ease of doing business with me. More opportunities to exhibit and sell came my way. Eventually I had to acknowledge that my heart wasn’t in consulting anymore. I truly wanted to create full-time. But it’s hard to give up a reliable paycheck! Fortunately for me, at the beginning of 2013, I needed surgery. While the doctors promised recovery would take only two weeks, I felt that this was the “diving board” I had been waiting for. It was terrifying, but I used my impending surgery as a way to empower my clients to go on without me. Thank goodness, I did! My recuperation took two months as the surgery was more complicated than originally expected. I could rest easy knowing my former clients had all the tools they needed to succeed-if not improve-without my assistance. And I was so eager to get started on my full-time career, I propped myself up on some pillows and started working on a commissioned painting. My business grew by 25% in the first year, which was a wonderful affirmation that I had made the right decision.

As my art career developed, people started to ask if I would be a guest speaker at various events for artists. From there, I was invited to teach. Over five years ago I developed the Focusing Series, a professional development series targeted to solopreneurs, craftspeople, and artists. At times, there has been a team of up to seven instructors-all successful entrepreneurs. We teach for various organizations all over Massachusetts. Additionally, I offer coaching sessions for creatives and entrepreneurs. Whether in a classroom, or a private session, I am honored to come alongside others and help them pursue their dreams.

I am blessed to have loyal customers, whether they be art collectors, students, or coaching clients (some are all of the above!). Most weeks you can find me in the studio creating new paintings almost daily. My work is inspired by the fact I walk everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. I walk from Jamaica Plain to Waban or Belmont. etc. Because we live in a city with so much green space, my work is inspired by what I find along the sidewalks and trails I trek. To further lessen my carbon footprint, my paintings are primarily on reclaimed wood I buy from a local furniture maker. I love giving new life to something that would otherwise be discarded. My work is mixed media to add depth and dimension. And I encourage people to touch my work as it is meant to be textural and tactile.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It can be hard to deal with the inevitable ebbs and flows of entrepreneurship. There are quiet seasons, when you start to wonder if there is ever going to be another sale. But I try to remember certain times of the year are like that, and there are things I can do to better manage my cash flow. For the most part, everyone I work with is lovely, but occasionally you do stumble upon someone who either doesn’t get art, or feels for whatever reason that you are inferior to them. I try to weed those folks out quickly before they rob me of too much of my time and energy.

If you’ve been in business long enough you are going to make mistakes. I try to think of them as a form of progress in their own right-especially if I learn from them.

Please tell us about a2n2.
I am first and foremost a full-time painter, creating mixed media, textural art on reclaimed wood. My work is mostly on the smaller scale, collectible, affordable, and tactile. Customers often switch up their a2n2 art collection based on mood, season, or holiday. I love how creative my customers get with their displays. They often come up with more imagination and inspiration than I do!

In addition to exhibiting at live events, and in galleries, I partner with other female-0wned businesses. This includes an interior design firm, a print design company for apparel and home-goods, and four home décor and gift shops. The best part of operating my own business is the relationships I develop over time with my customers and business partners. I have never met many of them face to face, yet I feel like I know them well from interacting with them throughout the years. These connections truly are my greatest blessings.

My main goal is to speak to the heart of those who buy my paintings. I want my work to nurture, comfort, inspire, and add a dash or two of happy to one’s home or workspace.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My parents called me the Bird Nest Spotter. I would point out nests to my family. And we would investigate the ones in our yard. You can understand why I paint so many birds. I am obsessed with them. When I was a child, I would watch birds fly and long to fly with them. That’s why I worked as a flight attendant for a handful of years!

Pricing:

  • Most of my work is in the range of $40-2000. The vast majority of paintings are $250 or under.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Headshot (D.A.Dixon)
Workshop (Arts Worchester)
Anna Koon

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