Introduce yourself. What is your name and where are you from?
Anna Breland, I’m from Madison, Mississippi.
What attracted you to the University of Mississippi Department of Art & Art History?
Growing up in an “Ole Miss family,” I fell in love with the University and Oxford at a young age. But knowing I wanted to be an artist I was unsure of the opportunities the University had to offer. After high school I accepted a scholarship to Northwest Community College here in Oxford, and during that time I realized all that UM’s Art Department and the BFA program had to offer.
What made you pick the area of concertation you’re currently studying?
I’ve always been a creative person. As a kid I would tell anyone who would listen that I wanted to be an artist and that I was going to make movie posters and book covers. Later on, I realized I had been describing graphic design, and after researching the field I was sure it was exactly what I wanted to do.
What type of artist do you consider yourself?
One of the things I love about design is that there are so many different ways you can express it. So, I think of myself as an artist, illustrator, painter, photographer, hand letterer, printmaker, and more. But I’m a graphic designer first and everything else falls under that umbrella for me.
What type of artwork do you create?
All kinds! I really enjoy exploring new avenues and learning different processes. Of course, most of my work is digital, but I also like to incorporate handmade quality in my work. A lot of my illustrations and lettering pieces are hand-drawn, scanned in, and then digitally fine-tuned.
What artists inspire you?
Paula Scher is one of the first designers I learned about, while I was still trying to sort out what I wanted to do for a career. Learning about the way she became a powerhouse in the industry really motivated me. I also love Jessica Hische’s lettering and illustration styles, both of these women are big career inspirations for me.
Could you talk about your plans BFA Thesis?
For my thesis, I’m developing a stationery line featuring calendars and planners. In these, I’m abstracting landscapes that feature color palettes that represent what different times of the year mean to me. My goal with these products is to help other creatives feel organized, motivated, and inspired.
How has the Department of Art & Art History fostered your growth as an artist?
I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without Meek Hall! I came into the department with a passion for art but did not have much confidence in my work. Being surrounded by fellow artists and amazing professors, I’ve been pushed to feel more pride in my work and that confidence has taught me to create things that I love instead of making to impress others.
Which professors mentored/inspired you the most?
Each professor I’ve had has taught me invaluable lessons and new skills. Ginny has been an amazing advisor and has confidence in me which motivates me to work harder. Tyler has always helped me focus on the professional industry and what will come after school. Lauren has introduced me to a love for printmaking and has given me creative freedom to work on projects that I’m proud to have in my portfolio.
What was your favorite class during your years here?
In general, I have loved all my design classes, but my favorite has to be a tie between Lauren’s printmaking classes and Jackson’s painting class.
Have you attended any conferences with your student organization?
In Spring 2019 the graphic design club, GRID, went to Crop Con in Baton Rouge, a graphic design conference where we were able to learn about professional design and the industry as a whole.
Did you take advantage of any internships?
Yes, I’m currently the Graphic Design Intern for the Art Department.
Could you describe any good experiences here in the department?
One of my favorite things the art department has to offer is lectures and workshops by visiting artists. When I graduate I’ll definitely miss the resources and ability to learn from artists all over the world.
What does the Department of Art & Art History mean to you?
There’s a real sense of community in the department. There’s a healthy amount of friendly competition, but everyone is extremely supportive of each other.
What are your plans after graduation?
As of right now, I don’t have anything set in stone. Ideally, I would like to find a job that will allow me to move to somewhere completely new since I’ve been in Mississippi my whole life. Ideally, I’ll be somewhere where I can work closely with other artists.
Is there any advice you would like to give to incoming art students?
Don’t be afraid to go after what you’re interested in. I was intimidated by interviewing for the BFA program but pushing myself to do it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has helped me create a portfolio that emphasizes what I want to do in my career.
Can we find you/your work on social media?
Yes! My design Instagram is @abrelandesign, and I’m currently posting sneak peeks into my thesis show.
What are you listening to right now?
I’m really into podcasts, especially while I’m working. Lately, I’ve been listening to Armchair Expert and My Favorite Murder.
Are you binge watching anything at the moment?
I really don’t have a lot of time to watch tv lately, but I’ve been meaning to rewatch Mad Men.
What is your favorite Oxford spot to hang out?
I love Lamar park during the day! On the weekends though, the Library.
What’s your go-to restaurant in Oxford?
Proud Larry’s. Partly because I work there, but mostly because it’s the best food in town.
What is your favorite time of year in Oxford?
Fall in Oxford is beautiful, but I think the best time is winter break when most of the students are gone and the town is relaxing.
Interviewer: Frank Estrada | Photographer: Olivia Whittington