In a fast-paced world filled with the hustle and bustle of modern life, Anna Laura Sullivan emerges as a beacon of tranquillity. She uses vibrant comics of woodland creatures to convey messages of self-compassion and universal understanding. The 26-year-old artist, based in Brooklyn, has crafted a unique corner of the internet that intentionally embraces a slower, softer pace, encouraging people to stop and take in the moment, reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well-Being.

Panel from Sacred space: the kitchen sink by Anna Laura Sullivan. Image courtesy of @annalaura_art/Instagram.

Sullivan's artistic journey has evolved from black-and-white art to the lively, watercolour-infused world she shares with her Instagram followers. Her intentional rejection of the fast-paced sleekness of the modern world is embodied in the children's book sort of  aesthetic that defines the world of her earnest little animal characters. In this sense, she has become today’s Beatrix Potter, charming her viewers with the serene life of mischievous woodland animals that audiences can access from anywhere in the world due to  Instagram being her publishing method of choice. 

“I’m not trying to teach, I’m just trying to give you a gentle nudge toward what you already know,” expressed Sullivan in an interview with Vulture magazine. Hence through her creations, she aims to amplify compassion, self-understanding, and the recognition of beauty even in moments of suffering, asserting that these are innate qualities within her viewers.

Illustration by Beatrix Potter. Image courtesy of Lizzie Harper.

Growing up, Sullivan was the perpetual new kid due to her father's military service. This greatly influenced her artistic perspective since it made her very observant and open to new experiences. She was also one of the last generations to grow up without social media, hence she spent a lot of her childhood in nature. The unhurried pace of her early years fostered a deep connection with the outdoors, it made silence feel like home and provided a foundation for her current artistic endeavours that requires a lot of quiet moments spent painting and writing.

However, her artwork wasn’t always so joyful and warm. Sullivan acknowledges a period of sadness and depression during her college and high school years where she created dark paintings as a form of expression. During this time, she discovered the profundity of joy and gratitude, realizing that embracing positivity is a powerful way to overcome adversity.

Comic panel showing Anna Laura Sullivan’s animal character finding joy in the mundane. Image courtesy of @annalaura_art/Instagram.

Sullivan's creative process involves carrying a journal everywhere she goes to capture fleeting moments of joy she never wants to forget. Each comic strip is a reflection of her personal experiences, creating a deep connection between the artist and her work. Her animal characters also carry with them a universal quality, serving as vessels for the myriad expressions of love that resonate with diverse audiences.

Spirituality is also another crucial part of her art as Sullivan views it as applied poetry—a means to find meaning in everyday experiences, echoing the impact Studio Ghibli had on her by highlighting the significance of seemingly insignificant experiences. In further exploring the intersection of spirituality and art, Sullivan shares her personal journey into Buddhism and how it influenced her to create monkey characters. The monkeys are a tool for her to articulate her thoughts and convey messages from her "monkey mind."

Monkeys in a comic panel by Anna Laura Sullivan. Image courtesy of @annalaura_art/Instagram.

Psychology Today recognizes the “monkey mind” as a Buddhist principle that refers to an anxious, unsettled, or confused mind, hence a need to control this mind by hearing them out and giving them creative output.

As for her artistic style, Sullivan remains open to change, acknowledging the uncertainty of life that might just change her current bright watercolour style. While her watercolours have resonated deeply with her audience, she expresses a willingness to explore new avenues that can help her better convey the core message of her work.

In essence, Anna Laura Sullivan's art transcends the digital realm, becoming a source of solace and inspiration for a global audience. Through her whimsical characters and profound messages, she contributes to the pursuit of good health and well-being, inviting individuals to recognize the boundless beauty within themselves and the world around them.

You've successfully subscribed to Arts Help
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.