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Academy Graduate Anne Faith Nicholls Conquers Multiple Mediums

It makes sense that nationally recognized artist and Academy of Art University alumna Anne Faith Nicholls began her education in business. Her stunning paintings and mixed media illustrations are garnering national attention partially due to her savvy business skills in the art industry. With a highly anticipated solo show and book due in December as well as an upcoming national ad campaign, Anne is on her way to becoming one of the most sought-after artist and illustrators.

Keep an Eye on the Clouds Close By

While Anne was attending business school in Seattle, she made extra money by selling her paintings at local coffee shops. When this venture actually started to become lucrative, Anne decided that she wanted to pursue a career as an artist and attend art school. After surveying schools all over the country, Anne chose Academy of Art University and enrolled to work towards an Illustration degree.

At the Academy, Anne met an assortment of creative and talented people who not only inspired her, but also motivated her. She further cemented her business skills at the Academy and rounded out her education by taking art history classes. This love of art history continues to influence her work.

“I had an art history class with Eileen Everett and she got me fired up for it,” Anne recalled.

Her love of art history led her to tour of Italy through the Academy’s study abroad program. For three and a half weeks, Academy instructor Everett took students on a whirlwind tour of Italy where they got an up-close view of some of the world’s most famous art.

Lady Lade

After graduating from Academy of Art University, Anne worked in an ad agency and did a couple of other odd jobs before deciding to devote her career to her art. She learned quickly that the best way to show in galleries was to align herself with them. She started attending local art shows and hobnobbed with fellow artists and gallery owners. Meanwhile, she began refining and developing a truly unique body of work.

“Everything in my work is unapologetically autobiographical,” she said. “The way I choose to tell my story is through symbols.”

Recurring characters and symbols make appearances in Anne’s work: foxes, dogs, birds, a baby whale, forest fires and rain clouds all denote different parts of Anne’s experience. The different girls in Anne’s paintings are usually self-portraits and sometimes bear wounds on their chests, referring to the heart surgery she had as a child.

“The easy solution to being original is painting yourself,” said Anne.

Anne has also transferred her talents to commercial work. She designed and illustrated the CD cover and packaging for California band Strata’s new album. She is also being featured in the VANS shoes winter ad campaign. A professional camera crew came from New York to San Francisco to shoot Anne in her studio with her artwork. She is currently on the VANS website and will soon be in major national magazines. The exposure for her work has been priceless and Anne understands how important it is take advantage of such opportunities.

“Basically, I do anything to get my name out there,” she said. “I am trying to brand myself because it is the best way to make money.”

On December 1, Anne will be opening her most personal solo show to date at San Francisco’s Shooting Gallery. “Low Tide Collection” will feature a new body of work as well as the debut of her book, Collect My Thoughts, which she has been working on all year.

Anne with a new painting from the Low Tide Collection/Photo by Christopher Flach

Anne remembers her time at Academy of Art University fondly and encourages Academy students to work through any challenges they might encounter.

“Stick with it and get your degree because you feel so confident once you get it.”


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