Interview: Anzenna Warren – Artist

On Greaveburn’s little outing to the Asylum convention in Lincoln recently, I met some damn fine folks. One of those folks was Anzenna Warren, a young artist with some serious penmanship skills. She bought a copy of Greaveburn and I took a look at her portfolio while we chatted, surrounded by a myriad of Steampunks from all over the world. It was an insanely perfect swapping or artistic materials the like of which I’ve never had the pleasure to experience before. And now, dear friends, I share with you some of Anzenna’s fantasic images, plus a little interview-style chat with the lady herself. Get your laughing tackle around this:

1.     Obligatory starter for ten…tell us a little about yourself.

I originally grew up in Dulwich, South East London until last November when Ma, Pa, sis and I packed up and left for Lincoln. All very sudden. We visited Lincoln for a holiday that summer and loved everything about it. Fresher air, such wonderful people. Honestly, I have never been called ‘duck’ before going to Lincs! In the same year we viewed houses, bought a darn lovely one and moved North-ways. Now we are living happily with our two budgies, koi karp and three beautiful black cats. The End.

2. When did you first set pen/pencil/paintbrush to paper?

I’ve always drawn as a kid. Always. Thankfully for my parents I didn’t discover the walls with my wandering crayons. Kids doodle for a lot their lives but I really noticed I it enjoyed as a hobby about Year 2 or 3 with the boom of Pokémon. What was this new art? From Japan? So there WAS more animation than Cartoon Network and Aardman!  I never traced my pictures, drawing Pikachu on my book covers and for my friends from sight then memory. By Year 4, Digimon had come out and a group of friends and I created our own evolving monsters; giving them stats, fake trading cards and making battles. I vow to hunt out those pictures and redraw ‘em, 2012 style!

I’ve never been able to paint. I used to ‘conveniently miss’ the art lessons where we were demanded to paint things because I was so dreadful, it was embarrassing. Honestly, a blind, limbless monkey, possibly dead could do better than I. *Sips tea. Continues.*

 3. Who’s your favourite artist, and how would you say they influenced your own style?

I have very many inspirations but Jamie Hewlett in particular. I don’t always draw in his style- I have my own, of course. His was of drawing is so unique from Tank Girl to Gorillaz and all the other projects in between. I like the way he puts so much comedy into a piece, but can easily shock you with something heartfelt. And the music videos? *New Yorker accent* GEDDOUTA’ERE! I have a print of his work ‘Chums’ that he painted on a trip to Bangladesh to see the harrowing effects of floods due to climate change, which will have pride of place on my bedroom wall once it is redecorated.

Fro those not in the know, that’s a human/mutant kangaroo hybrid. Obvs.

 Some other inspirations are: Chris Riddell Hergé, Stan Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, Matt Groening, Egon Scheile, Roy Litchenstein, Aubrey Beardsley, Beano/Dandy, Warner Bros, eBoy, Banksy. I highly recommend Googling those who are unknown to you. I would love to don the title of ‘Studio Artist’. Much like a Studio Musician can play all styles, I’d like to be able to draw in all styles- and do backgrounds, for goodness’ sake!

My artist friends are also a huge inspiration, real life and online. I attended school with: Rebecca, who could make paper art of anything and drew some of the most striking eyes and flowers I have ever seen. Sadie, who used ‘found objects’ dredged up from the Thames and bits from abandoned houses, making them new again. Posola, who uses textiles and makes custom jewellery with her heart as the centrepiece. My best friend, Ophelia who has possibly the most wickedly creative, twisted mind!  We always bat around new ideas. They say you pick your friends, and I think I chose very well.

4. When I first saw your artwork, I thought that they were coloured using Photoshop, but that’s not so. What techniques do you use to get such a wonderful finished product?

More discipline than an Amish nun! I’m a self-named perfectionist. I despise ‘hairy lines’ unless working in someone else’s style and like a clean, smooth, graphic finish. I’d be a hypocrite if I said computer art wasn’t the way forward. I adore it and ultimately would like to work in CG-animated movies. I just prefer to utilise my natural skill without having to rely on the ‘undo’ button or eraser tool. Besides, in a power cut, the only PC I need is Pencil and Creativity! *Geeky snort-laugh*

 Tools of the trade are Biros (Bic Fine), fineliners, Letraset ProMarkers Photoshop and Illustrator. When I first started with ProMarkers, I was dreadful! There’s a real knack to them. Instead of shading in tidy, uniformed lines, you’re better off scribbling in a whole area as quick as possible and wait for it to soak in. Layering and blending colours is good too. They have so many in their range, everything imaginable short of Neon Brown.

 If I had to cement a routine to the creation of my art, this is more or less IT.

  • An image pops up randomly in my head, say, in a deep sleep, on the loo or walking through town and I’d go out of my way to note it down. Keywords.
  • At the next given point I’d do some rough thumbnail sketches working out poses and placement.
  • A full page sketch is next. I work on until I am happy and ready to ink.
  • Inked, I scan it, mainly to be safe. I hate making mistakes on original pieces when working traditionally so having a back up file is a must-have.
  • Weighing up my technical skills on both Photoshop and by hand, it’s a case of which I feel works better for the piece. Really detailed or realistic = biro. Wanting a professional finish or more technical effects = Photoshop. Quick piece, a personal gift = ProMarkers.

5. So when you’re not doodling, what do you get up to? Video games! I’ve gone back to playing all the games I wanted to play as a kid, but was too young. The GTA series, The Warriors, The Godfather, Red Dead Revolver, Reservoir Dogs and so on all for the PS2. I’m no good at them, but I just like to have fun, tolchock a few grahzny chellovecks, like.

I’m an aspiring, amateur movie buff, working my way through the cult classics and controversial clips. Mostly 70s movies- they sure knew how to make a film then! Also thrillers, particularly Hitchcock. His movies are so well thought through (also thanks to a lot of great stories he adapted them from) that I fear if he had wanted to, he could have committed the Perfect Murder himself! …Maybe he did… he was too good. The man who knew too much…

 I digress.

 I’m not always indoors! I borrow Motherington’s pushbike for a scenic ride around the village. I like to attend comedy events, having been to many a BBC recording in London. Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You and suchlike. There’s a great entertainment scene in Lincoln and it’s just getting better. Baking is also a lot of fun.

6.What brought you to Steampunk?
I attend a lot of Expos and conventions, usually manga and comic-books ones. Until I moved, I was a regular at the MCM Expo in London. There were always people in anime costumes, internet memes, video game characters, furries, superheros and so on. Gradually over the years, a new look arrived. People in top hats and militaria, canes, moustaches and sideburns, parasols, gowns and bustles carrying teapots just for show! I’d ask them what programme or game they were from and they’d shrug: ‘this is just me, how I wanted to dress’.

 I actually managed to put a name to the look when I attended The Lincolnshire Steam Fair in 2011. One of the biggest events in the Lincolnshire calendar, it displays steam-powered technology such as farming equipment, classy cars, air-shows, organs, stalls, shows and a steam-powered Victorian fun-fair. I don’t know what persuaded me to put goggles on my hat that day, but I did and was noticed by some lovely, dapper Steampunk gentlewomen and a chappie. They told me all about it and practically signed me up to Brass Goggles (a Steampunk community website) on the spot!

 Steampunk is for everyone. That’s why I was so happy at The Asylum event at Lincoln Castle, even my family dressed up- and they called me ‘strange’ when I went to conventions…

7. Your outfit at the Asylum convention this year was based on A Clockwork Orange. Was it Anthony Burgess or Stanley Kubrick that got you dressing like Droog?

I have to say somewhat shamefully, Kubrick. I love his interpretation, my favourite movie in fact, and there is no doubting he is a great director but in comparison to the literary work, there’s no match. The viewer doesn’t get into the head of Alex as much as the book does, heavily laden with the fantastically written Nadsat I now use daily (swearing mostly, since no one knows what I’m going on about) and really being part of the story rather than the observer. He tells his side, actively referring to himself as ‘Your Humble Narrator’, and wonderfully so. Despite this, I loathe the final chapter, 21. I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t read it (BUT WILL READ ‘CAUSE I SAY SO), but it didn’t strike me with the same chord as the rest of the book. Let’s just say, the publishers and Kubrick, in my opinion, had the right mind to omit it when first published / scripted.

Did I watch the movie out of a vague Hipster-esque interest? Yes. But I watch it again and again because films of such quality are few and far between and simply watching the master at work, perfection personified, the cogs turning in his brain almost audible on the booming Beethoven soundtrack… O bliss, bliss and harmony.

 I wore the iconic strikingly white, bowler topped, braced and booted uniform as imagined by lovely old Stanny K. In the book, it is black and resembles something a little rockier. Before next year or another gathering, I’d like to put much more of a Steampunk twist to it. The lower eyelash to become a goggle-eyepatch, a large wind-up key in the back and real deadly cut-throat britva! Or even the head straps of torture used in the Ludovico Technique. Hopefully I’d look a little more like Alex, and less like Dim after my diet…

8. Any plans for next year’s outfit?

I suppose I was a little brainwashed by the shear amount of pith helmets I saw! I’d love to be an explorer. I have many jars and trinkets and doo-dads about that I could use as evidence of my many adventures. I’m not too handy with making things, so I unless someone makes all my gadgets, I can’t be an inventor. Something like my character Professor Phineas Farflung. If I get enough money, I’d like to be a Steampunk furry. I haven’t seen one of those before and I love genre cross-overs. Hmm… It depends on whether my mechanical wings are finished by then, thus a different outfit entirely!

9. So what are you working on next, and where can we see more of your work?

I’m currently working on a business plan with the Prince’s Trust to become self employed and start getting my artwork printed on merchandise. Also I will be opening international commissions via PayPal as soon as I get off Jobseekers Allowance. *weeps* More obscurity, obscenity, observations and possibly some …objects? ‘OB’ words are hard… I’m constantly drawing, so nothing to fear. I’ve been rather inspired to write some more thanks to you, dear Craig! The adventure of Professor Phineas Farflung is in its beginner stages and some shorts are on the way… so watch this space!
It’s been real horrorshow to govoreet with you.

For the love of Bog, ignore the name of the deviantart page! I was 13 when I made it and I am too poor to change it! 

And here’s where you can find more of Anzenna’s work!


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