She pieced together her artistic life with mosaics, and the results are rippling out to beautify the world.
Anne Marie Price is a southern California creative known for her mosaic art. Her body of work includes mosaics on stones, on surfboards, and even on sandy beaches. While she was a stay-at-home mom in Wisconsin, she began refining her mosaic art skills by watching instructional videos and connecting with mosaic artists online. After she became a single mom with a full-time job, she had less time for her craft, but she later moved her family to Huntington Beach and began focusing full-time on her artistic career. The decision proved to be the right one. She continued the work, won a prestigious scholarship for mosaic arts, and became a teacher of the craft. In an interview, Anne Marie opened up about the transition into her art career and offered encouragement to everyone looking for a creative outlet.
When did you first try mosaics, and how did you develop your skills to this point?
My very first mosaic I ever made was in a high school art class. I read books all the time as a kid (still do), and I was reading about the story of Sacagawea, and we were allowed to pick any style of art we wanted to create a project in class. I was always drawn to stained glass and mosaic art, so I decided to make a stained glass mosaic of Sacagawea on an old window. I didn’t come back to creating mosaics again until I was a stay-at-home mom to my two daughters. In 2003 I decided to try it again, and that was it. I knew this was what I wanted to do and learn more about.
I’ve taken a few classes after being awarded the Society of American Mosaic Artist’s Robin Brett Scholarship a few years back and learned a lot from them, but for the most part I am self-taught and used books and just asked questions in mosaic-related groups online.
Your journey as an artist is inspiring, and a geographical move you made is an important part of that story. What was it like to move to southern California and start focusing on your creative career full-time?
Moving to California was a huge change for me and my daughters. Felt a bit like moving to another country, coming from a smaller town in the Midwest, but we adapted over time, and I can’t imagine not living here now. With anything new and different, it just takes time.
Focusing on my career full-time has had its challenges. I’m no different than any artist in such a competitive field. I have learned to do without and put a lot of energy into figuring out my path as an artist, but there have been so many good things that I have experienced and had the opportunity to do because of this life choice. I’ve met so many wonderful artists here who inspire me as well. It seems to balance out, and I guess I just decided early on that if I’m not enjoying the process anymore, this is when I will stop. I have yet to feel anything close to stopping, so I guess I’m in for the long haul.
What are the greatest challenges and rewards of your craft?
Being creative all the time is probably my biggest challenge. I’m very emotionally connected to what I create and what comes out. If I’m in a mental slump, it’s hard for me to just create. As someone who works hard and is very much the type to put my head down and plow through work that needs to be done, this can be very frustrating at times. So during those times, I focus on the business end of things to stay busy and focused, and then I eventually force myself to do something small to get into the swing of things again. Doing encourages creativity. It’s like fanning the flame until you get that fire going good.
The reward for me is always when I am in what I call “the zone”: when I have an idea and I can’t stop thinking about it and planning it out and then creating what I envision. For me the reward really is the act of creating. Finishing a piece is my zen. My peace. But in the depths of working an idea out, that’s the passion, the process of creating—that’s the sweet spot for me.
You recently began sharing beach art incorporating natural elements along with plastic waste. What inspired you to create it?
I’ve always been a beach comber, and I’m not good at just sitting still doing nothing, so I guess the beach art evolved while I sat on the beach with all I would collect from the beach. It was a way to practice creativity in a situation where I could use only what I found around me. Some days the majority of what I found were plastics and trash. I would pick up as much as I could to dispose of properly, and it would always make my heart just hurt seeing all there was and how everyone just walked past it. I just decided one day to start incorporating it into the mosaic beach art I made. Maybe if people saw it in my art there on the beach, they would notice it more and it would leave more of an impact to see exactly what I was using. Like that toothbrush, straws, or plastic bottle caps. I leave it for a day when I use any plastics so people can see it, and then I pick it up the following day so I get the message across and then do my part to pick it up.
Has the public response surprised you?
The response has been incredibly positive, and it did surprise me. But more importantly, I think it helped some people to think about it more. When you see something, it tends to stick with you better than just being told it’s happening. And taking a creative approach makes people appreciate the art but also feel the seriousness of those everyday pieces of plastic they don’t normally think twice about. I know it has with me. I just thought maybe it would for others too.
What are your everyday inspirations?
Nature has always been a constant inspiration. It is just so inspiring to see how plants, animals, the earth…it all has a way of existing and thriving and carrying on with so many parts at play. It is all set up to rely on each other too. That has always fascinated me. People inspire me. All the different types of people around me or that inspire me. My environment in the moment inspires me. The landscape or the way a place feels. The not-so-pretty things, the common things—they inspire me too. I guess as an artist, we just are naturally drawn to seeing the details in everything, so for me, I see patterns and things that appear simple but are really very complex when you look closer. That is, for certain, why I am a mosaic artist. I just get the rhythm of patterns I see all around me and how each part makes up the whole, how it’s all connected.
What’s one truth you’ve learned as an artist?
You have to—and I mean you really have to—have a strong sense of self. You have to be able to block out all the noise: all the ways people try to make art a competition, all the moments when you don’t feel adequate and have a true confidence in your own voice having worth. You have to know you have something unique to say or just something you feel compelled or passionate to say, even if it’s been said before, and not be afraid to make it your own version. You have to be okay with not everyone getting it or liking it. You have to take risks and feel uncertain before you figure it out. You have to remember why you have always felt this need to express and create, and nurture that, right along with the sometimes-mundane work. Like anything, if you get lazy or complacent, you lose the original spark of what makes you you. Don’t lose “you” and what makes you do what you do in the only way you can do it.
That’s fantastic advice! Before we go, is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I have really, truly enjoyed this path of how I choose to create through mosaic art. For me, the possibilities are just so endless with mosaics, and each piece I create I try to do better than the last piece, so I am constantly inspired and challenged. I just can’t think of a better way for me, a better or more authentic life for me. I feel very fortunate to have found my “thing” through mosaic art, and I just can’t help but wish that for everyone, no matter what that spark or passion is for them. Whether full-time or part of the time or just on the weekends, find that one thing that just keeps you motivated, gives you a personal purpose, and brings you true joy.
You can keep up with Anne Marie Price on Instagram and Facebook. If you’d like to learn how to make mosaics with her enthusiastic guidance, Anne Marie is now offering classes both in person and online. And you can shop her variety of beautiful mosaics on her site!