We had the good fortune of connecting with Anya Boz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anya, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I work with a relatively loose schedule. It’s important for me to leave my schedule flexible enough to make time for my friends and family and also avoid burning myself out. I recognize that not everyone has the luxury of working when they “feel like it,” but it plays an important factor in my satisfaction in my work and life. Being self employed without strict hours can give me anxieties about how I should be working at any given time. I think the guilt was much more apparent when I first quit my day job. Now that I take longer to make each room guardian and they sell for more than when I started, I try to give myself the permission to take time away from work without guilt. I can grind when I need to grind, but I don’t find it particularly fulfilling to force myself to work when I could be using that time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always been inspired by the idea of spirits and unseen beings that affect our physical world, and the room guardian concept was a manifestation of that. They are these little critters that seem like a familiar creature like a fox or rabbit, but there’s something about them that’s not quite full animal, something more spiritual. They are creatures that one can easily imagine living amongst us, but have enough pieces of fantasy to remain mysterious and magical. Of course if you don’t subscribe to the belief of spirits, room guardians are just interesting art, but for those of us that do, or are just unsure for that matter, they are a little reminder that a healthy sense of wonder can make the most ordinary of things a little more exciting. My ultimate life goal going out of high school was to be an artist who could support myself financially with my work, so I applied to a bunch of art schools. Unfortunately, as many of us know, even with scholarships, art school was just terribly expensive. So instead so I took some time away from school to work and contemplate my future. During this time, I began making and selling my room guardians and they were gaining a lot of traction on Etsy. It got to the point where I had to cut off my orders and take off my listings on Etsy to catch up. My day job started to feel like a side job when I realized I would be making more money if I used the time I was at my job to work on room guardians. In 2014 a little over two years after I first opened my etsy store, I decided to quit my job and make room guardians for a living. After getting all my finances and taxes set up, I didn’t run into any problems with not being able to sell my work. I got lucky enough to tap into my own niche market that had more demand than supply. The only limit to my ability to sell was the limit of how many room guardians I could make. It’s really exciting to look at my old work and see how much I’ve improved over the years. When I saw other artists’ work that was better than mine, it didn’t really make me want to quit. It instead kind of ignited a sort of competitiveness inside me that pushed me to improve and reach their level. If you do something hundreds of times, you’re inevitably going to get better at it. I always thought that I would plateau at some point. I figured I would someday reach the best that I could be, but step by step I’ll improve upon something until over time, all the separate improvements together evolve my work into something greater than I ever thought it could be. I also always imagined that as I got better over time, I would be able to make my room guardians faster than before, but I’ve actually found it to be the opposite. As I improve I take more time to perfect my work. Instead of finding enjoyment only in the finished product, I find enjoyment in the process and the tedious details that I was too impatient to work on as a beginner. I think what catches a lot of people up, especially with 3d art that requires certain structural building knowledge, is focusing on the exact process and getting everything perfect step by step, but really most artists have come up with their own experimental version of whatever the “proper” process is. Perhaps that’s something that really helped me stay motivated. I didn’t even know that other people made similar things to mine. I didn’t even know how to categorize them when I first posted my room guardians on deviantart. My thoughts in creating my first room guardian was never, “I want to make an art doll, how do I do that?” they were more “I have an idea for a sculpture, I’ll use what I find to make it.” My first room guardians were not nearly as well built as my modern ones. I was focused on the way they looked rather than the structural quality, but it was just art that I made for myself and as I started making it for others, I gradually improved my methods and materials. There really is no “right” way to do any of it. Experimentation is just the best teacher. Sometimes all it takes is getting started and you’ll find a way. Your first try will have flaws. Your first try might fail, it might look terrible, but getting caught up on doing things exactly how someone else is doing it to avoid doing something “wrong” can discourage you from just trying to do something with the things you have. I guarantee you, if I tried looking up art doll tutorials when I was first starting, I probably would have dropped my current method with chickenwire because no one else made them that way. But now, I have a unique method of building an art doll that I have perfected through my own experimentation. In my opinion, there are no “wrong” decisions when exploring your artistic journey, sometimes all it takes is making a decision. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be where I am today. I know success can be fickle for many artists that work even harder than do, and I do not take that knowledge lightly. It’s hard to separate financial success from artistic legitimacy in a capitalist world, but I think it’s important for other creatives not to quit creating when they don’t see the praise from the public they might want. Art is fluid and primal. It does not adhere to human laws and often cannot be tamed to fit in the small mold we use to define “success”. Just let those creatures running around inside your brain out in whatever way you can.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would take a day trip to the Bishop Arts District and check out all the quirky local shops and maybe stop in Deep Ellum for dinner at Revolver Taco Lounge and one of the near venues for a concert in the evening. I would love to show them the Dallas World Aquarium and the DMA and we would have to check out a Drag Show at Station 4 We could check out the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens and eat dinner at one of the great places like Spiral Diner or Spice on W Magnolia in the Southside. I’d show them the Foundry District in Fort Worth and go to Doc’s Records for some cool vintage finds and we could eat at Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar for amazing sushi on W 7th street. We could ride bikes along the Trinity River and see the new murals on the floodgates along the trails and check out a cool art show at Mañanaland.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents played a big factor in my success for not pushing me too hard toward one life direction and allowing me to discover my own path. They encouraged me to harbor my creativity as well as build practical life tools by letting me make my own decisions without micromanaging my choices. When I stepped into freelancing, I was walking into the business side of things basically blind. Without the help of my friend Karen Suesens who helped set up my business and finances, I would be much worse off. She has patiently walked me through the less creative aspects of being an independent artist that do not come so naturally to me. I owe much of my success to her.

Website: www.anyabozartist.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/anyaboz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/anyabozartist
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsEmd9Y92XZiQtYNEaOtj9w?view_as=subscriber

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