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11th September 2020
Meet the Artists – Sneaky Raccoon
Sneaky Raccoon is the artist alias of Anna Mullin, a graphic illustrator and designer. Enthralled by the natural world and a love of colour, Anna’s illustrations often feature animals or character creations.
She enjoys producing visually reductive artwork, with each project being individually tailored to the client or desired audience. Working in both design and illustration for over a decade has led to Anna creating notable brand logos and campaign work for clients such as Sealskinz and Pitcher & Piano, as well as being the creator of brand characters for clients like Heinz, with her work also translating effortlessly into animation for clients like the Vegetarian Society and BAE Systems.
We spoke to Anna about her Harry Potter cupboard, how she met The Artworks and roast potatoes…
Where do you live?
In Stockport, Cheshire — next to a nature reserve!
Where is your studio located?
This year I have a new studio space at home which is inside a wardrobe space in the spare room — it’s a bit like Harry Potter’s cupboard except mine is over the stairs and less magical!
Can you describe your creative process?
My process is organic and instinctual. I rarely sketch ideas in a pencil. I prefer to start drawing digitally and let the drawing evolve and change as it develops. It is a process that has come about with time and by learning to trust myself to follow my own visual instincts.
What does a typical working day look like?
Actually, I’m away from my desk unless I need to work on a project. Being in the garden or by pursuing other interests such as going for walks helps to free my mind from searching for solutions at my desk. Then I can work with purpose when I return.
Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work?
I don’t listen to music with words as I find it distracting. I only listen to ambient or natural sounds like the ocean waves or sounds of the rainforest. I sometimes listen to science podcasts when I don’t need to focus as much like when editing or soothing curves.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
For ten years now, since 2010!
What drew you to Artworks?
My studio space at the time was in London and literally on the floor above The Artworks office. So one day I popped down stairs for a cup of tea and a chat to show them some of my animal artworks on my iPad. My work can be very graphic and bold (what with coming from a design background) as well as colourful — but we all felt that I could offer a different approach for client briefs because of these traits.
What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?
I don’t enjoy reading generally, but I did like stories of huge imagination when I was child — everything from Paddington bear, to James and the Giant Peach and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I like characters. I feel that animation, film, travelling and the natural world have all inspired my work; but more than anything, I love animals of all kinds!
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
A scientist working in conservation or a marine biologist working somewhere warm and sunny!
What was the most important lesson you learned at Art School, if you went!
To follow your own passions and interests, even if it breaks the rules a bit and your teachers don’t like it. Rebel! You are not defined forever by the work you do then. Explore and find your own direction.
What inspires you the most to create?
A desire to do something with purpose, which normally comes after a lot of thought. I don’t draw for the sake of drawing.
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
Anything animal related or reductive graphically. Commissions for clients who have projects that do good such as charities or have sound company ethics are my favourites to work with.
What would your dream commission be?
A project for a client or product that does good by putting wildlife, environment, planet and people first. I try to be as eco-friendly, waste and plastic-free as possible in my day-to-day lifestyle, while trying to support charities, local businesses and independent start-ups that share these ideals through their products. I would love to work with more planet and environmentally friendly clients — for example, on a campaign for electric cars or to help create visual graphic language for scientists and organisations to help make content and information more accessible to everyone around the world.
Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?
I have two cats who hate it when I spend any length of time staring at the big shiny box that is my computer monitor, and not paying attention to them — however their interruptions do encourage me to take frequent breaks!
What 5 things could you not live without?
- Silence — as I find noise irritating to my well-being.
- Sunshine — because gloomy days affect my mood.
- Heat — as I’m always cold even when it’s 30 degrees outside.
- Animals, and my cats — because their faces make everything instantly better. Compassion is a high-held value to me.
- Sight — being such a visual person, it’s the human sense I wouldn’t want to be without because I love colour and feel so sensitive towards it.
What is your very favourite meal?
Anything with vegetables, especially roasted potatoes.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I bake vegan cakes to share with my neighbours, or choose to spend time in the garden with my cats even if I am not very good at gardening. I like being outdoors in green-spaces, anywhere there are lots of trees so I tend to walk a lot around where I live. I also love watching films and documentaries as I feel fully immersed both visually and audibly. Inspiration can come from costume design, typefaces, shapes, anywhere really.
What is your current dream travel destination?
Borneo in Maylasia, as one of my clients has a wildlife sanctuary there, so I would love to have the opportunity to visit and help out more in person with the animals and the wonderful team there.
To see more of Sneaky Racoon’s work, click here.