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Art & Life with Anna McNaught

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna McNaught.

Anna, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My high school art teacher informed me I would never amount to anything let alone an artist or designer. This was the driving statement that started it all and sometimes, that’s all it takes. In 2013, I packed my belongings and moved across the country to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fashion photography. It was a rude awakening to discover that this world I desperately wanted to be a part of was ultra-exclusive, largely deceptive and filled with empty promises. For a very select few, it works out, but for me, this wasn’t the path that I was meant to take. I spent over six months pounding the Hollywood pavement, submitting dozens of job applications on a daily basis, and searching Craigslist for anything I could do related to my career choice or not. I eventually found a part-time job selling solar energy systems door-to-door to make some much-needed money.

By the end of 2014, I landed a job as an in-house graphic designer, but something was lacking. I realized I had lost my creativity. I was at rock bottom and reduced to tears on a regular basis. I was ready to turn tail and head home. I would have, but something was holding me here. If I was going to survive, I needed to reinvent the direction in which I was headed.

In the largely male-dominated-digital-manipulation world on Instagram, I wanted to be the premier female photographer and digital artist. I would make a niche for myself, combining my love of photography and graphic design. If there wasn’t a job for me, I was going to create it. I took a chance and started posting my surrealistic photography creations. These pieces quickly gained recognition opening up a whole world of art shows, galleries, and new creative challenges. I wanted to return my appreciation to the community.

After long hours of research, classes and pep talks, I started a blog (The Liked Photo) to teach people how to take better photos and market themselves more effectively on Instagram. Now, here I am, a few years later with over 100k followers and a successful, growing business. I recently decided to leave my full-time job to pursue freelance work. Setting my own schedule also allows me the luxury of travel to expand my horizons. I find inspiration in these experiences that I hope will become the creative drive in my work. This is just the beginning. With my motivation and determination, I plan to continue evolving and expanding as an artist and exceeding the limits presupposed by others!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m a photographer, graphic designer, and digital artist.

A few years ago, I became known for my surreal and colorful photoshop creations. I basically take my photography and some stock images and combine them in photoshop to create fantasy worlds or dream locations. I started creating this type of work as a way for me to express what was in my dreams and my imagination. It’s also a way to escape from the everyday mundaneness.

I hope people can view my pieces as an escape, inspiration, and gain a desire to see the world in a new light.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
The biggest challenge over the past few years for me was realizing that you really have to put yourself out there. I was a little naive in the beginning and thought the work would come to me. It’s also difficult in the beginning to receive negative feedback about your work. I remember feeling hurt and shut down, but eventually, you have to turn it into constructive criticism and work even harder. Every day takes an extreme amount of motivation and dedication. I’ve had to really push myself and tell myself that if this is my dream, I’m the only one who can make it happen. Another challenge that artists face these days is a saturated market.

Everyone on Instagram thinks that they are a photographer just because they have a phone or an editor just because they downloaded Photoshop. It takes so much more than that. Now we have to really work to stand out from the crowd as well as learning how to properly market ourselves! I invested in business and digital marketing classes to push my name and business, and it was worth every penny.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The best place to see all my work is on Instagram @annamcnaughty

And follow my travels and behind the scenes on my second-page @leavethemap.

I do gallery shows and pop up art events here and there around Los Angeles as well. Follow me on Instagram to learn about when and where!

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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