Artist Profile: Andy Anissimoff

Squamish, B.C.–based Artist Andy Anissimoff advises: “Don’t worry what people think, it makes it hard to think.” Words :: Feet Banks.

 

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Floaty Back.

 

Messages on the Wall

For a visual artist, Andy Anissimoff has a unique relationship with words. 

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“I write messages on the wall at my studio,” says the 41-year-old Squamish resident. “I work alone so I have lots of time to think. I sometimes write things on pieces of cardboard in paint and stick them on the walls to remind myself of what’s important and to help find balance.”

Originally from Ontario, Anissimoff always had an artistic streak. He studied industrial design in college and moved to B.C. immediately after graduating in 2003. “I turned down a really good design job opportunity and came for the mountains. I was installing trailer hitches for eight hours a day, living in Vancouver and looking for design work when I lucked into meeting the guy who was bringing the first batches of Red Bull into B.C. He hired me as a rep and told me to choose what area I wanted to cover. I chose the Sea to Sky, moved to Whistler in 2004, and sold the first can of Red Bull in Canada to the Boot Pub.”

 

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Glacier Bay, Joffre Lake.

 

Living in the mountains, Anissimoff dabbled in photography but found it didn’t really fulfill his artistic needs. “By 2008, I’d left Whistler for Squamish and was working at No Limits Motorsports. I’d started painting and selling stuff here and there. I didn’t want to be a ski bum, but I’d also been scared my whole life—I had the drive to be an artist but I didn’t think it was a responsible way to make a living: the classic scene where your brain is saying, ‘that will never happen.’”

“Drive Overrides Fear”

Anissimoff continued creating in his spare time, capturing the landscapes of his backyard in acrylic on canvas. By 2013, he felt driven enough to go all in on his passion. “I found an Elon Musk quote, ‘drive overrides fear’ so that went on the wall. Then, I cashed in my RRSPs and quit everything to do art full time. I was selling at farmers’ markets and doing okay, it was enough to give me the confidence to keep working. Confidence is everything to an artist. If you don’t believe it, no one else will!”

 

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Howe Sound.

 

Focusing primarily on large-scale landscape paintings, Anissimoff’s easy-flowing brush strokes and bold colours work together to create a semi-abstract/interpretive realism take on the expansive (and often local) mountain and forest scenes he paints. His training in 3D at design school also found its way into his painting style.

Confident Brush Strokes

“Even as far back as public school, I remember being inspired by the Group of Seven,” he says. “Thousands of hours later, I have a few different styles that I play with but I’ve never had a great attention span so I was kind of forced to develop less complex styles to satisfy the way I paint: keep it fun, experiment a lot, and focus on well-placed, confident brush strokes, composition and colour balance rather than highly technical detail. For every painting I finish, there are probably ten that didn’t work out.”

 

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Rainbow Lake.

 

For any full-time artist, the first few years can contain a lot of uncertainty. Anissimoff remembers being driven by an overbearing sense of urgency early in his career—a workaholic who’d wake up at 5:30 a.m. and paint until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., skipping days dirt biking or snowmobiling with friends for fear that the next piece may not sell or the next commission call might not come. It was time to write another message of wisdom, his own this time, on the wall.

 

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Photo supplied by Andy Anissimoff

 

Finding Balance

“I wrote ‘Knowing that you will not know is what you need to know,’” he says. “And this helped because I had to give in to the fact that I don’t know where my work comes from, or when it will dry up. And for sure, the harder you work the luckier you get, but there is a breaking point. I was pretty hard on myself for a while, but it’s been nice these past few years to find more balance and slow it down and enjoy this beautiful place we live in.”

 

“Work it, overwork it, and make it work—that’s what I always say… or at least that’s what it says on my wall.”

 

Anissimoff currently maintains a gallery on Cleveland Avenue in Squamish and a working studio on Mamquam Road. When he’s not painting, he’s often out in the mountains riding his dirt bike, mountain bike, or snowmobile and snowboard, recharging his creative spirit with adventure and fresh views.   

 

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Shadow Bear.

 

“In the mountains there’s an endless amount of randomness,” he says. “Every storm or season changes everything and it’s never the same view twice. The excitement for what’s just around the next corner stokes my excitement to get out there. How juicy is that next peak gonna be?”

That excitement is Andy Anissimoff’s drive. And drive is his secret sauce.

“Work it, overwork it, and make it work—that’s what I always say… or at least that’s what it says on my wall.” 

artinbc.com

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