The Q&A: Anthony Freda

By Peggy Roalf   Monday April 27, 2015

Q: A native Long Islander, what do you like about living near the Sound?

A: Originally from Port Jefferson, NY, I grew up a couple of miles from where we currently live, on the north shore of Long Island. We live in a nineteenth century home that once served as a convent. It's a peaceful place to work, but watching my son experience childhood in the same place I did can lead to sometimes overwhelming bouts of nostalgia.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: My notebooks are filled with very rough sketches of ideas and rambling thought crimes. I have not been able to digitally reproduce the quality and expression of line I get from ink flowing onto paper. I am in awe of those artists who are able to bridge that gap between man and machine that I feel when using a Wacom tablet. I prefer starting with traditional media and surfaces, and scanning them into the digital realm.

Q: What do you like best about your workspace?

A: The view. 


Q: Do you think it needs improvement, if so, what would you change?

A: Whenever I see one of those blog posts showcasing the amazing studios of famous artists, I experience severe studio envy. Then I remember that some of the most beautiful images ever made were drawn in a cave in Lascaux, France.

Q: How do you organize an assignment before you start drawing? Do you make lists and thumbnails?

A: Sometimes a concept presents itself to me immediately, and I know it's the right solution. When ideas are more elusive, I make a list of keywords from the story and draw their visual counterparts.Then it's just a matter of making connections.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When it stops making me angry.

Q: What was the strangest or most unusual assignment you’ve taken?

A:  Field and Stream once asked me to paint a deer on, well...a deer.

They liked the work I do on found objects and actually mailed me the hide of a White-tailed Deer. Not a vegan-freindly assignment, to be sure.


Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak's pictures still make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: The Obama Files, by my friend and antiwar icon Cindy Sheehan. Full disclosure: She asked me to illustrate the cover.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: I would recreate an old schoolroom and spend a year drawing my own history lesson on the blackboards with white colored pencil.

Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?

A: BookFaces of the Enemy: The Psychology of Enmity, by Sam Keen is essential for any visual communicator who wants to understand how archetypes have been used by war-justifying societies to create hate-bonds of consensual paranoia. It's also a great reference source for historic propaganda art. It reminds me that images can have the power to move history. Blog: The Jealous Curator, because they are jealous of me. DART: because I don't have to remember to go to a website. It's just sitting in my inbox waiting to inspire me.


Q: What was the painting or drawing or film that most affected your approach to art? [the Thunderbolt] 

A: There is not one single creation that I can point to, but anything by theseartists who I am jealous of ( in random order); William Blake, Kris Kuksi, Paul Klee, Edward Kienholz, Stanley Kubrick, The Clayton Brothers, and every other great artist of the last 20,000 years.

Q: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

A: I would go back to the East Village circa 1990 and buy real estate. 

Q: Where do you teach—and what do you like best about teaching?

A: I have been a mentor in the graduate mentorship programs at SVA and FIT. I love giving students information that I never got in art school. I also taught a workshop with Marshall Arisman and Victor Stabin. I think learned as much as the students just watching Marshall.

Q: What advice would you give a young artist about applying to an art school or college?

A: You have to be objective enough to know that you are going into the right profession. If you are certain that you should be spending your life making pictures, then apply to the best schools and follow your blisters. The friends you make in art school will shape your personal and professional life. I am still working with people I met at Pratt. I contributed to several books by Michael Fleishman that offer offer some great advice to students.

Q: What would be your last supper?

Linguini with calm sauce, at Vincent's Clam Bar, Mott and Houston St.


Anthony Freda has created illustrations for numerous print and digital publications in mainstream and alternative media. Recent clients include: State Farm Insurance, American Civil Liberties Union, Golf Digest, Reader's Digest and the Wall St. Journal.

An illustration commissioned by Minh Uong of The Village Voice has been acquired by The National September 11th Museum to be part of their permanent collection. Freda's work has also been

Selected to be part of American Illustration 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23, 28, 31, and 34.



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