I found Anna Brones on instagram via She Explores - a publication I've written for a few times and messaged her one day when she shared something about the Swedish tradition she adores - Fika - the coffee break that often also includes treats! I told her, without even realizing it, Fika made it's way into our wedding vows. She asked if I had her book, and I said no (I didn't even know she had a book at the time - turns out she has several) and she sent us a signed copy of "Fika". See, Kaleigh would only go xc skiing with me in the early years (before she grew to love it) if I promised her coffee and cookies afterwards. Enter Anna Brones and a collaboration we couldn't be more delighted to share with you!
Tell me about yourself
My name is Anna Brones and I do a lot of things. For work, I am a writer, artist and producer. I've written a few books, I started a publication called Comestible, and I also do papercut illustration. For fun, I like to be outside, preferably on a bicycle or making coffee, and doing anything creative. I'm half Swedish, and born in the Pacific Northwest, so those landscapes and cultures are very important to me and show up a lot in my work. If I had to boil down all the things I do, I think that the common threads are place and presence. In most of my work, whether I am writing about food, Scandinavian lifestyle, sustainable fashion or creativity, the goal is always to challenge people to think differently, but also to focus on slowing down and being in the moment. I think that so much of what we do is in a rush, and there is so much to be gained if we can take the time to ground ourselves into our surroundings and be present, and celebrate that place and the community that it's part of.
What are your three favorite things to do outside?
Ride my bike
Tell us about Fika
Fika is the iconic Swedish coffee break. In Swedish, the word "fika" functions as both a noun and a verb. Usually there is a social component to it, although you can fika alone, and while you can fika with just a cup of coffee, there's most often something to go with it, like a baked good. I like to think of "fika" as the tradition of slow coffee. It's not downing a cup in front of your computer. It's taking a break, even a short one, and just checking out of your every day routine for a bit.
What would you tell someone who wants to get into paper cutting but doesn't know where to start?
Take a piece of paper and a cutting device (scissors or knife) and just start cutting shapes. Matisse called it "drawing with scissors" and I love that sentiment. Papercutting can be quite technical and there are a lot of papercut artists who have an incredible mastery of detail, like Masayo Fukuda, Karen Bit Vejle and Annie Vought. But it's an art form that also encourages a lot of fluidity and natural forms, so I always encourage people to focus on finding a bit of flow when they are starting. Try to relax and let go a bit. I think the best thing to do is just take a piece of paper and cut one line or shape, and then keep adding to it to see where it goes. If you're looking to go beyond that, start thinking about the story that you want to tell with your work. I personally love both Nikki McClure and Hannah Viano's work for exactly that reason. They both have an eye for detail but also invoke emotion with their work, telling a whole story with their pieces.
Best advice you've ever been given as an outdoorswoman/artist?
I've been working on this ongoing series of papercuts called Women's Wisdom Project, where I ask women about pieces of wisdom that someone gave to them, and it's funny to be asked that question myself. I don't think it's a specific tidbit of advice, but I do think that when it comes to my relationship with the outdoors, I keep coming back to my Swedish grandmother. She passed away last fall, at almost the age of 104. She was a woman who very much appreciated the small things in the every day. When she would go for a walk in the summer, she would always come home with a handful of wildflowers to put in a vase, just to bring a little element of nature and happiness into her kitchen. We were back in Sweden for her memorial, and I was going through old photos.
There were so many of her and my grandfather, or even my mom and I with them, out on adventures; drinking coffee by the lake, out riding bicycles, etc. These weren't epic adventures, she didn't summit any mountains or hold any records, but she did have a love and appreciation for the world around her and a sense of curiosity that always kept her asking questions. She passed that on to my mother, and both of them passed that along to me. Whether I am outside or making art, I try to hold onto this sense of appreciation and curiosity in my every day life, to honor all of the small moments.