Neal MannFocus, Anna Clark

Focus: Anna Clark Interview

Neal MannFocus, Anna Clark
Focus: Anna Clark Interview

Focus explores the creative talent within the climbing community.

UK-based climber and creative designer Anna Clark creates work with a beautiful simplicity. The Canadian lives in the British climbing mecca of Sheffield and her work takes inspiration from the environment around her. 

How did you become a creative designer?

I've always played around with design in some sense. Probably the true beginning was playing around with Publisher back in the day, and making up brands and brochures for my parents. I didn't really know what I was doing, I just had a strong idea of aesthetics. After I got my BFA I felt a little stuck trying to use my artistic skills, so looked into courses that would help develop my commercial awareness. I lucked into the University of Creative Arts where I studied design and communication. The course completely changed my perception of design, and my classmates were incredible—they taught me so much. From there, I worked some random jobs before landing the dream job: Combining my passion for climbing with my passion for design by working at a climbing brand. 

Where do you find influences for your work and how do you go about producing a piece?

I find influence all over the place really, I subscribe to 'the more you see, the more ideas you'll have' philosophy. I suppose a favourite go-to for inspiration is propaganda art. The compositions and messages are so crafted, and the messages so strong. I also absolutely love art deco and Danish design. I generally start producing a piece by exploring or sketching ideas out either on paper or in my head. I then work up the ideas on the computer. Sometimes the sketches work, sometimes they don't—but you nearly always have happy accidents while working up a design. Sometimes these accidents become the final piece, and sometimes they help me develop the idea.

You've started a new daily project. How does that work?

When I wake up I look for an interesting fact relevant to the day. I then give myself half an hour to come up with an idea and another half hour to produce it. Using only black and white, I produce a poster or a graphic that communicates the fact. It's a really good 'loosening' exercise to start the day and start idea generation. It's also intended to push me stylistically, so that I experiment with different graphic styles. I'm still struggling with that bit! The project also allows me to indulge my interests and do something completely outside my usual commercial work. 

What kind of commercial work do you look to do?

I mainly work with brands and people that focus on the outdoors, or getting people outside. I tend to work closely with what I love, so climbing brands and events feature quite highly. I would like to work with natural conservation and historical preservation companies too.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a similar path?

I think the single most important thing to any creative career is curiosity. Keeping an open mindset and continually learning more and different skills, as well as expanding your horizons as much as possible will help you develop interesting connections. I'm quickly learning that a good compliment to curiosity is communication, and learning to craft arguments for your work. That—and stubbornness