Always Strange

Illustrator, Sculptor, Mixed Media Artist

Seattle Art

Everything is Connected

Always Strange Art, Seattle Art, Funny art, coloring, adult coloring books, hobby art, creepy cuteAnna SokolovComment

The first Always Strange coloring book was a hit! Inspired by its success I decided to create another one just in time for the holidays. The goal was to move closer toward the "adult coloring book" style in order to provide more detail. I had just the thing - all of these connected creatures that jumpstarted my current style are now gathered in a single coloring book. Any way you turn it - there are creatures to find! 

This book was created differently than my first book "Creatures in Strangeland" - it's less like a story book and resembles a traditional coloring book with many details and viewing angles (whichever way you turn a page, you'll see new creatures). In fact, this layout allows two people to color at the same time while sitting across from each other. I'm all about the collaborative process! Here are some in-progress images of this coloring book!

Creatures in Strangeland - An Adult Coloring Book

Always Strange Art, Seattle Art, Funny artAnna SokolovComment

Front and back view of the book and the continuous scene from Strangeland, where this little green girl lives with her dog

After a long period of deliberation and excuse-making I finally sat down and started planning the first ever printed booklet of Always Strange creature art. Over the years I have amassed quite a collection of individual character illustrations, some of which have been turned into one-of-a-kind original pieces (woodburnings, watercolors, prints, etc). Although these originals were fun to create and show at exhibitions, I felt sad to part with the art making process after they were framed or sealed. As an artist, you spend a long amount of time creating something and this process becomes very intimate. Once you're done, it's almost like saying goodbye to a dear friend who leaves after a visit.

This is why I thought a coloring book would help solve my problem. With a coloring book I'd get to create something and finalize it for sale but someone who purchases it can pick up right where I left off. This way the process continues and someone else gets to enjoy it with me. 

A single page from the book - original elephants on Dali-esque legs with extra detail added in just for the coloring book.

The book assembly process was a new learning experience for me. After having finally figured some things out the majority of the work was technical and administrative. Between multiple bouts of editing for quality and size, and running back and forth to the print shop, this book went through a total of six versions. Dear friends and fellow artists provided vital feedback on the content and its appearance. It's sometimes hard to hear criticism, especially about your first "baby", but it is this feedback that drives the product closer to something that people would want to buy and color. 

Now a little bit about Strangeland and its inhabitants. Every single time I pick up my favorite micron pen and draw a whimsical creature almost all of them end up sharing the same lumps and protrusions - something that has marked my style over the years. Just like people who live in the same country or neighborhood who share a language and a culture my creatures have enough in common with each other to necessitate a unique space. That's where the Strangeland idea came from - it's a land where all creatures designed by Always Strange live and play! 

This first coloring book introduces Strangeland and showcases some of its dwellers. They pose for you like in old portraits, often holding their favorite items to give you a better idea of who they might be. Throughout the book's pages you will also find clues about the scenery of Strangeland, its architecture and landmarks. In the next Always Strange book, this land of creatures will open up and present itself to you in greater detail. 


Street Art in Belltown

Seattle Art, Wood burning, Funny art, Always Strange ArtAnna SokolovComment

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in two street art events in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.  One was held outside the Belltown Community Center as part of a promotional effort for the Belltown Artwalk, and the other is called Belltown Beats. Both times I chose to focus on showcasing my process, both on paper and on wood. 

Belltown ArtWalk It turns out that when you're casually working on something in the middle of the street people just come up and talk to you. And although you can't really control who these people will be (there's a side story here about a drunk/high guy who came up and started painting the blue dragon without asking while occasionally taking swigs from a beer can that he kept tucked in the front band of his shorts) overall it's a great opportunity to pull in strangers for an impromptu collaboration. Throughout the night about ten different folks agreed to add their mark to the brown paper. Some even incorporated their imagery into my existing creatureland. 

Belltown Beats For this event I set up my wood burning supplies on a single table, next to finished originals (which were done using the same process) and prints for sale. Hooked up to an available outdoor electricity source I was able to jump right into the pyrography, and create an image of a circus elephant following the pencil lines I made earlier, as a guide. Nearby, another table was set up with all kinds of art supplies for anyone who wanted to make a quick masterpiece. The kids particularly enjoyed it, especially a little girl who was visiting the states with her parents from Germany. They had to figure out how to carry around a still-wet, slightly expressionist piece their little blonde budding artist whipped up in 10 minutes.

Overall, I really enjoy creating around other people. Having others watch my every move establishes a momentum that helps me keep moving forward and not get caught up in the small details - is the tail too long? Oh no, I should erase this part and re-draw it. There's just no time for that.