We love art and we know you love art, too. That’s why we created our Exclusive Artist Program. We’re collaborating with a handful of independent artists whose work can only be found in galleries to bring their creative vision to our Ballard customers. They create artwork exclusively for us — you won’t find these pieces anywhere else — and you get to enjoy the next best thing to original art at an affordable price.
We want you to get to know our Exclusive Artists, starting with Andrea Costa. We were lucky enough to discover her right here in our hometown of Atlanta. Read our Q&A and take a peek into the world of an artist whose work we admire.
Ballard Designs: First, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Andrea Costa: I grew up on a farm outside of Atlanta, from age 9 into my twenty-somethings in Hampton, Georgia. I eventually moved back to Atlanta and worked in marketing before moving into interior design. That job is what led me to painting.
BD: How so?
AC: I was looking for affordable, original artwork for my clients’ homes and just couldn’t find the right kinds of pieces back then. I thought, “why keep looking for something that I know I can do?” Plus, I knew the palettes that I needed. So I just started painting and it took off. Nine years later, I stopped doing interior design and started painting full time.
BD: Did you have formal training as an artist?
AC: I was the worst art student in high school! But I had a really great art instructor in college — he just turned on the light switch for me. After college, I got a real job in marketing, but I had a child and became a stay-at-home-mom. It was then that I started taking art classes from Chris DiDomizio, this Old World Master teacher here in Atlanta. I studied under him for seven years and he really taught me how to paint with discipline and to how to mix my colors.
BD: You primarily paint landscapes, but you also do a lot of abstract as well. Why is that?
AC: I am a Gemini, which may explain why I have two sides. One is a more disciplined side where I paint landscapes and they’re kind of loose impressionism. And then I have that more abstract side — the real artist side of me — that’s fun and creative and colorful and energetic. What I love about my artwork is that you can place the two pieces together in a room and it doesn’t feel boring. They hang well together.
BD: How would you describe your art? Are there similarities between the two types?
AC: I try to evoke a feeling when I paint, whether it’s a landscape or an abstract. I like to paint my artwork in an ethereal fashion where people feel like they’re in a dream or they think they really want to be there, because maybe a landscape reminds them of a place they’ve traveled to. They just want to enter the painting and be there. And I definitely have a favored palette. Not only am I drawn to these colors, but coming from my interior design background, I feel like this palette is hot in the marketplace and goes with a lot of interiors. It’s muddied, it’s natural and doesn’t have a lot of intense or super bright colors. Many people are looking for peaceful colors. Although, I have to say, bright colors are making a comeback, and I just may add a new line.
BD: How do you decide whether to paint a realism or abstract piece?
AC: It really comes down to the mood I’m in that day. Do I feel like being more disciplined or splashing it on the canvas and seeing what comes out of it? It’s a more organic process when I’m painting abstracts. Those take me so much longer than painting landscapes. I paint layers and layers and layers and keep looking at it and thinking about it until I feel like I’m done. And that may take a week or a month versus painting a landscape in a day. I know a lot of people look at abstract art and think a kindergartener can do it — I used to think that. But to achieve a really good balance and a great composition and something that’s interesting all at the same time is a lot more challenging than painting a landscape.
BD: What inspires your work?
AC: I am very inspired by my past and spending many hours outdoors. Like I said, I grew up on a farm with lots of expansive land with fields and trees. Living in the city, you just don’t get that. Cityscapes can be painted beautifully, but that is not what draws me in as an artist. I’ve also spent lots of time on the lake and I just think lakes are so beautiful. When people come home after a long day of work, that’s what they want to see or the mood they want evoked. It’s peaceful.
BD: Has your style changed or evolved over time?
AC: I think it has as I’ve gained confidence over time and my work has been well received. I hate to say it, but out of sheer boredom of doing the same thing over and over I think, “how am I going to change this today and make it better?” I may loosen up my brushstrokes or get bigger brushes and use different colors. I think the more I know, the more I don’t know. But you really can’t mess up. It’s just paint. Hopefully, over time my work continues to evolve.
BD: So what does the creative process in your studio look like? Can you describe a typical day?
AC: When I get up, I get my cup of coffee and I go downstairs and turn on my music. I love all types of music, so it depends on what the mood is for the day. And then I pick a canvas size that I’m feeling. I usually have a couple of commissions in the background, and I think, “am I feeling that today?” I really go by how I feel and what mood I’m in. Then I put my canvas on the easel, mix my paint, then go at it and finish about eight to 10 hours later. Some days it’s a really long day and some days, not so long. If I’m having a great day, I just kick it out and I’m happy with it. Other days I really struggle to make it work — and I think that’s probably true for anybody. Other times, I paint all day and hate it the next day, and I paint right over it. Nothing is sacred. I want to feel like with every painting I paint, there’s me in there.
BD: Do you work on one piece until it’s finished?
AC: I do that with my landscapes, because I paint wet on to wet paint. That’s how you get your soft edges and a very blended look. But on an abstract I may put it aside when I’m stumped and I’ve taken it as far as I can at the moment, and I may pick it up a month later or the next day. I just continue looking at it until I think, “okay, I know what I want to put in here now.”
BD: How do you envision people enjoying your art in their homes?
AC: Obviously, I hope they were drawn to the art in the gallery or in Ballard Designs’ catalog. And when they hang it in their home, I like to imagine them sitting with their cup of coffee in the morning enjoying the painting. I feel like I’m part of the painting, so we’re having a chat over a cup of coffee! A little piece of me is in every piece of my artwork, so I always hope they’re enjoying the artwork as well as feeling like they have a little part of the artist. I’m really a people person, honestly. I can paint for so many days, and then I have to get out and talk to people and have fun and then I can go back downstairs.
BD: Before you became a Ballard Designs Exclusive Artist, you primarily sold your original artwork in galleries. Why did you decide to work with Ballard?
AC: Being an Atlanta girl and former interior designer, I have always loved the catalog. It gives you a lot of great options at a great price for your home. I also have a little bit of a history: 20 years ago my neighbor was Beth Lacefield. It was around the time she started her career by working with Ballard and it really took off. At the same time, I was painting and my career started taking off. So for Ballard to come back around in my life, it just seemed like a really great connection. I never thought I would be here. It’s special and very meaningful for me. What a milestone in my career! It’s my first venture into giclées, so it’s a mutual enthusiasm between the two of us.
We couldn’t agree more.
Thank you so much, Andrea for letting us have a peak into your studio!