My name is Anna Joyce. I am an appliqué artist and textile designer living and working in Portland, Oregon, with my husband and two daughters. I was born and raised in Oregon, and have a degree in printmaking from California College of the Arts. After I graduated from college in 2000, I didn’t have a printmaking studio. To satisfy my need to make, I started working with textiles, using a sewing machine I was given as a wedding gift. Working with fabric has become my passion and I now use my training as an artist to create all of the products in my shop, Anna Joyce.
I make art because it makes me happy and I cannot imagine spending my life doing anything else. I grew up in a home where both of my parents were professional artists, and a lot of importance was placed on having a creative practice. My mother (who is also a print maker) would run her press with me on her back when I was a baby, and as I got older I spent a lot of time with my father in his photography studio and darkroom. Being surrounded by art and handmade items has made my life more meaningful and my memories richer. I love making things with my hands and watching an idea come to life.
My design process is intuitive, relaxed, and rooted in the belief that we can and should live with art and craft everyday. Vintage fabric, folk art, shapes in nature, and playing with color and patterns inspire me. My ideas are sparked by shapes or lines that catch my attention, and I translate that idea into a textile design or appliqué by “drawing” it with my scissors. I have shapes that I return to again and again and mix and match in different combinations to create new designs. Circles, leaves, flowers, stripes – I play with these motifs and use new materials, colors and fabrics to keep them fresh. You can see me creating an applique pillow from start to finish and catch a glimpse of my creative process in this fun little video I made.
My favorite thing I have ever made is my first textile collection. It had been a dream of mine to print my designs on fabric for so many years, and pulling that collection together was a very satisfying experience. I design my textiles without the aid of a computer, and oftentimes the patterns I use to shape and collage my designs together are sourced from vintage fabrics that I have been collecting for years. I will take my favorite scraps of fabric and photocopy them onto paper and then hand cut my designs into collages that are then turned into screens for printing. Some of the patterns I used in that collection had moved with me all over the country and seen me through getting married, the passing of my father, and the birth of my two children. It was an enormous personal accomplishment to draw on my background in printmaking to create my own hand printed textiles. The collection is deeply personal and filled with joy.
I think my easygoing approach to design, my eye for mixing colors and patterns, and my exuberant aesthetic sets my work apart. I have tried to follow the trends, but it always feels inauthentic and ends up falling flat. My favorite thing that a customer has said to me is “Looking at your designs makes me happy.” And I can say without hesitation that is because I was happy when I made them.
In our increasingly mass-produced world, having handmade goods in your life is important. I make items that people can use and enjoy every day. Bringing a little bit of pattern and craft into my customer’s lives keeps me inspired and motivated to keep growing my business and developing new products. There is nothing more inspiring to me than having a customer use and enjoy a product that I created by hand! It keeps me motivated to know that people are connecting with my work, and that something I made might become a favorite gift, an heirloom, or a cherished object that makes the everyday more special.
My daughters are still young, so I need my work schedule to be flexible. Etsy gives me the freedom to be an artist and a businesswoman on my own terms. Having the freedom to set my own hours makes the balance of being a mother and a designer full time more manageable. It is a lot of hard work and late nights, but I feel proud to be setting an example for my girls of what it looks like to work doing a job you really love.
I did not know that I had the capacity to work as hard as I do – and that I would find so much happiness from my work. Before I started Anna Joyce I knew I was an artist, but I did not know that I was filled with so much ambition and drive. I really believe that this is just the beginning, and I am so excited for the future!