Anna makes life about leaning into flow (& away from resistance), welcoming change, and demanding better. She is learning how to be “neck-down” through surfing and taking those lessons into the real world. A generous treasure for this tired month of September, we know you’ll enjoy this one <3
Anna, you have such a naturally inspiring presence that comes from a certain sense of self witnessed in your artistic expression. What can you tell us about your experience of inspiration, expression, and self in your art practice?
What I can tell you today about inspiration, expression, or “the self” will be different tomorrow. Like the clouds or the sea, my relationship towards myself and my work is ever-changing. I can’t give a fixed answer, and perhaps this is the crux of the matter: I try to remember that how I show up to my practice and my personal experiences is mutable — more water, less rock.
It doesn’t come naturally to me, but besides having the time for it, the most important thing about my creative practice is how much grace and permission I bring to it. I am mostly protective of letting my expression be exactly what it is. I try to catch myself when I get mentally caught up in hustling or what I think I should be, what the work should be. This looks like meditating every day so that I can listen closely and be a keen observer of my thought patterns. It also looks like allowing myself to change course as much as I want to, or not working on anything at all for long stretches of time — simply being instead of doing.
Resistance is something I think about often: how much am I bringing to a given situation or project, and which road leads to relief? This is not to say that certain processes or relationships shouldn’t feel intense sometimes or be a little tiring, even overwhelming — but making anything with force never turns out right. I don’t think it should feel hard. If it feels hard, I nourish something else for a while. Wherever I feel flow, that is where I try to go. It all comes out so much better when my body feels like a smile.
If we know anything at all about being here (earth), it’s that timing is everything, nothing is permanent, and change is abundant (at times, necessary). How have you been welcoming the changes in your life this season? Is there anything mobilizing in your life right now that you’d like to share with us?
For a long time, drawing was the basis of my practice and what I shared with people most often. Since my time spent in Mexico, writing now takes up most of my interior landscape. These days I’m barely drawing. Speaking to the last question again, I can see how this shift could occupy my mind with thoughts like “am I blocked?” or “will I ever draw again?” but I choose not to concern myself with what the change means. I welcome it because it’s happening. I also welcome it because I’m excited. More than ever before, I’m thrilled about writing. I just moved onto a ranch with eight brilliant people after living more or less alone for way too long. The abundance of ideas and personalities swirling around the table, it’s such a gift.
I’m also happy about having a booth at West Coast Craft in San Francisco this November for the second year in a row. Not everybody loves trade shows, but after exclusively running the poster shop online for years, getting the chance to set up and interact with people in real life feels like a kiss on the head.
You said once that “surfing is [your] one true love.” We love activities that take us out of our heads and into our bodies (it looks different for everyone!). Talk to us about that feeling– do you find this sort of activity necessary for you, and if so, what does it offer?
This question brings me back to the first, which is about being in a state of flow. I intentionally seek activities that require more presence than my general dawdling about, and surfing is one of them. I’m incredibly cerebral; I think my life’s work is just to learn how to be more neck-down and in my body.
I am humbled constantly by my time in the ocean, like literally tumbled all the way to the beach and spit out on the sand not knowing which way is up. I really have to leave everything I carry with me at the shore - and when I don’t, when I’m hung up or weighed down, it reveals itself swiftly and often mercilessly.
I suck at surfing regularly, sometimes to the point of wanting to quit. Alas, I’m convinced that sucking at things and doing them anyway is like being in the fast lane to self-compassion and acceptance, which I always need more of (though I hate it while it’s happening to me).
We’re lucky if we are given grace to be beginners. We all start somewhere, but this murky and inevitable period of having no idea what we are doing is totally glossed over in my opinion. It’s a disservice to trying something new, which is what keeps me alive. What if the emphasis on an activity isn’t about being good or bad at it, but on how much we love doing it? Where does play live? Must it be so elusive?
I was raised by a perfectionist, and so if I wasn’t a natural or very good at something immediately, I was given a story that it just wasn’t “my thing”. This really ate away at my confidence until I was well into my twenties. I accepted the view I got from sitting on the sidelines, I said no to trying things, I missed out on a lot. I’m still pretty contained — I have to make a conscious effort to do things for the sake of play, joy, or experimentation. Just last week I climbed a tree for probably the third time ever. I had help.
Any activity that connects me with sources of fear and uncertainty is extremely useful in keeping perspective, especially when it comes to the desire to share myself with the world so earnestly. It’s hard to be scared of writing something publicly or showing a new drawing after taking a set wave on the head.
Anna Fusco on Instagram: @lordcowboy
Anna on Substack: lordcowboy.substack.com
Anna’s Website: lordcowboy.com
Joy Newell @joynewell