Anna Murphy is an artist and muralist living in Chicago. Below, we dive into her journey, what makes her most excited to wake up every day, and some really strong advice for finding a mentor.
- Name: Anna Murphy
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Role: Artist/Muralist
- Reason for Waking Up Every Day: Passion for her dream job
- Next Thing She’s Going to Learn: Yoga skills / how to do a handstand
- Go-To Learning Resource: Instagram & YouTube
- Favorite Place in Chicago: Ping Tom Park in Chinatown
- Find Out More: @annapmurphy
Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
I was born and raised in the beautiful countryside of England (my father is English, mother American) and at age 13 I moved to Frankfort, Kentucky with my family, where my mother’s family lives. I feel fortunate to have experienced two different cultures so early in life, giving me a different kind of perspective, and an understanding of rebuilding and reinventing oneself. It was towards the end of high school when I fell in love with drawing and painting, it became very therapeutic for me, and it was at that time that I knew it was something I could enjoy and pursue for the rest of my life.
I feel fortunate to have experienced two different cultures so early in life, giving me a different kind of perspective, and an understanding of rebuilding and reinventing oneself.
In 2011 I graduated with a BFA in painting form the University of Louisville. Shortly after this I moved to Chicago to peruse a career in the arts, knowing it would be bursting with creative opportunities. I spent a few years working as a creative assistant for a professional artist, traveling nationally and internationally to create and install artwork. Additionally, I had a three-year residency teaching painting at Soho House Chicago, as well as co-lead an outdoor mural program for youth through After School Matters.
Since then, I’ve gone on to acquire my own studio space at the Cermak Center in Pilsen, and now have found a perfect balance between fine art/studio work and public mural art. I feel honored to have been named one of the top 10 Chicago artists to look out for in 2020 by Artist Replete.
What made you want to pursue your profession/area of focus?
Painting is not only a way to heal myself and my own mind and soul, but it also gives me the wonderful opportunity to inspire and uplift others. This is my reason for all the work I create, to inspire, uplift, and move people to feel good. I get to explore philosophical questions and topics that are important to me, and most importantly have fun doing it. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love every day. Creating something from nothing has always felt like magic to me, and my hope is that when people view my work they will feel that same magic within themselves.
What gets you excited to wake up every day?
I love what I do, it really is a dream job. Especially in the summertime when I get to paint outside in the beautiful weather, and meet so many amazing people as they stop by to say hello. The kindness and generosity of strangers I meet on site really touches and moves me in the most beautiful ways. People bring me food, gifts, volunteer their time, and share so many kind words. I’ve made many friends this way! And the satisfaction of knowing that the murals I paint will bring people inspiration, joy, and happy memories for many years to come is a wonderful feeling.
What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself? Why?
The most important thing I have learned is that growth is what motivates me. Small increments of growth and improvement is what excites me and gets me out of bed every day. As well as pushing myself in my art practice; I love challenging myself to experience and learn new things. Seeing improvements, no matter how small, is what life is all about. Small improvements eventually add up to be huge changes. Some of the things I am working on now are teaching myself Spanish, taking dance classes, and working on my master’s certification in neuro-linguistic programming.
What’s the next thing you’re going to learn or teach yourself? Why?
I would like to improve my yoga skills, and I have a goal of learning how to do a handstand. Especially because us painters need extra help with our neck, shoulders, and back from using a paintbrush all day!
Seeing improvements, no matter how small, is what life is all about. Small improvements eventually add up to be huge changes.
Do you have advice for finding a strong mentor/ building a relationship with one?
When I first moved to Chicago, I spent two years working as a creative assistant for an internationally successful artist, Carlos Rolon (Dzine). This was an invaluable education in not only creative processes, of how world stage-level artwork is produced and created, but also the business side of things. Seeing first-hand how a successful business and art studio is run was an immensely valuable learning experience, along with getting an up-close view into the art world, and traveling to galleries and museums around the world.
This is also where I met my fiancé, and love of my life, Hector Gonzalez, who is also an amazing artist and creative, and has been a huge part in helping me become the artist and person I am today. I would recommend any artist who is starting out to gain the experience of working for a professional artist who they respect.
Favorite resources for ongoing learning?
I find a lot of new artists who inspire me though Instagram and YouTube. Seeing other artists studio practices and journeys as creatives is one of the best sources of inspiration for me in my own practice, giving me new ideas on how to approach work and find inspiration.
I also believe that art is a spiritual practice, and a huge part of my life is devoted to creating growth in my own spiritually. In fact, it is what I value most, above all. I have many spiritual teachers whose work I cherish. Some of my favorites are Dr. Joe Dispenza, Gabrielle Bernstein, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Wim Hof, James Van Praagh, (who has an online school), and Deepak Choprah.
- Favorite books: Ask and It is Given (Esther Hicks), Super Attractor (Gabrielle Birnstein), Autoliberación Interior (Anthony de Mello), The Impersonal Life (Joseph Benner), Dying to Be Me (Anita Moorjani)
- Favorite podcasts: Infinite Potential (Deepak Chopra), School of Greatness (Lewis Howes), Psychic Insights (James Van Praagh), Under the Skin (Russell Brand)
I would recommend any artist who is starting out to gain the experience of working for a professional artist who they respect.
What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why?
Ping Tom Park in Chinatown. I fell in love with this magical park years before I ever had the honor of painting murals in it. It’s just a few blocks from my studio, and is gorgeous beyond words. It is right on the river and has an amazing view of the Chicago skyline. There is also a river taxi that stops there and takes you through the city to downtown. Getting to spend two beautiful summers painting murals there was an absolute dream.
Related: check out more of Anna’s mural in Ping Tom Park, plus other top murals in Chicago, here!
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
It’s a tie between Hawaii, Greece, and the Redwood Forest in California. Each place is so magical in their own way. The Redwoods are so humbling for the soul, the sheer size of the trees will take your breath away. It seems as though a dinosaur could step out from behind a tree at any moment, surrounded by giant ferns and plants. Seeing it in a misty rain adds a whole other level of magic.
I visited Maui last summer, and it will always have a special place in my heart. It’s so incredibly lush and bursting with beauty and life. The whole island transmitted an energy of serenity and peace that was evident the moment I stepped off the plane. The beaches and waterfalls were beautiful beyond anything I had ever seen. Mykonos and Santorini, Greece are also heaven on earth. I could eat a fresh Greek salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! And the beaches were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Oh my gosh now I am reminded of snorkeling in Aruba, which was my favorite snorkeling experience… I can’t choose! Nature is my absolute favorite thing ever!
Photos courtesy of Anna Murphy.
Bonus: What’s the one thing you wish people would ask you?
‘Would you like to pet my dog?!’ Dogs are also my absolute favorite thing ever.