Artist / Teacher / Musician
Georgia Andersen is a curious soul. When she's not grading the assignments of her Spanish class students, she's most certainly studying interests of her own.
Multi-Instrumentalist, entrepreneur, world traveler, Georgia's melody is movement.
Please introduce yourself.
I'm Georgia Andersen, I was born and raised here in Wichita. I'm an artist, teacher, and musician. If I'm not doing one of those things, I'm probably playing chess with my husband Torin. Occasionally Morse Code comes into play, I've been learning that for a few years for a reason that I still don't really know.
What mediums or projects do you primarily focus on?
The majority of the visual art that I do is for my Etsy store The Big Harumph. Which is primarily linoleum block prints, occasionally there is some other stuff on there. I paint sometimes but there has to be a specific deadline for me to really work with anything other than linoleum.
What encourages your creativity?
Having time and space. Being in a really affordable place like Wichita helps with that too. The Etsy shop for example. That started because I had a whole summer off and Torin and I had just moved to our house. Naturally you want to fill it with something like music or art. Time and space, that’s where creativity comes from.
Your Etsy shop is quite successful, has it always been?
I started the store in Mid-June of 2009. I was working obsessively, I had a lot of time to do that, so I was really focused. I was putting in full working days printing, carving, researching how to list items, SEO, marketing, how to photograph stuff with the crappy camera that I had at the time. I made this $2 sale after two months so I figured I was making (not counting the expenses of running the business) about a cent every 2 hours. At the end of those two months it wasn't very good, but June to December, 31st of 2009 I think it was maybe $150 in sales. It was like "alright, this is probably a little better return...", which at the time I wasn't even considering. I literally looked back today and figured all of that out, now it's a lot higher.
"I made this $2 sale after two months so I figured I was making about a cent every 2 hours."
Georgia sketching in her home studio.
Where did your interest for drawing and music come from?
Both my parents are really creative people in very different ways. My Dad is an artist and we were always drawing when I was a kid. I have this sketchbook he gave me, we had collaborated on all the drawings and he just gave it to me last Christmas. Going back through those after 25 years of not seeing them was pretty crazy, the sketches are really weird. My Mom sent me to piano lessons when I was 7 or 8. I picked it up really quick but I was never that dedicated to practicing the things that I should have been practicing. I always wanted to kind of play my own stuff. Pretty quickly I started trying to play my favorite songs by ear.
Have you taken any formal music lessons?
I took a little over 10 years on piano. I took one guitar class in middle school which was kind of awesome. Other than that I haven’t had any lessons, but after you have those two instruments you can figure similar instruments out. I can fake my way through the accordion, vibes, ukulele, and bass. I don’t know any of the proper technics or anything so holding the vibraphone mallets, for example, I’m sure I look pretty ridiculous.
Do you prefer studying multiple instruments instead of just one?
I feel like most people I know are pretty focused on doing one thing and doing one thing really well. That’s something I’ve thought a lot about too, if I picked one thing and focused on doing that one thing really well, I’d be a badass because I can be so focused and obsessive. It's great to diversify interests, but if you have too many things taking up your creative space, you're going to be mediocre at a lot of different things. I think a lot of people who are creative and curious have that same inner struggle. I don’t feel like I’m where I want to be with many of the things I do.
What is your current relationship with music creation?
I’ve been in quite a few bands, I really like writing music. I love collaborating with people and I hate playing shows... it’s always been like that from the beginning. So I have never really sought out a band, I’ve never tired to “get the guys together". I’ve played a ton of shows and never had any connection with actually seeking one out. Now I just write and play music at home, I don’t really play out very often. Torin and I write music together and should play out more but we don’t. I think it’s to the point now where we would need to put together a really big band to record it properly, how we want it to be. Since I don’t have any interest in playing shows, it’s not fair for me to ask anybody to learn all these songs they're probably only going to play 3 times total.
“I think a lot of people who are creative and curious have that same inner struggle. I don’t feel like I’m where I want to be with many of the things I do."
Recent Wichita State University commercial that Georgia and Torin Andersen created an original music composition for.
What is your music space set up at home?
At home I have the piano, set of vibes, Rhodes organ. My grandpa passed away and I have his old guitar, it’s missing a string. I don’t know why I haven’t replaced it, but it’s fun to play. Ukulele. My favorite sound on any new song that I’ve done was accidental. I was recording with the piano and it was pretty quiet stuff so I had the microphone up pretty loud, but Torin was putting away dishes. So it’s super quiet minimal piano stuff and then “Clank, clank, clank...” with the spoons and metal. At the time I’m cursing him, “I’m trying to record this, come on, respect, you know what it’s like, help me out.” but at the end of it, it was like “this is awesome!” it had so many layers at that point it was an extra cool percussive thing. - Listen to Georgia's track "Sunday, 2014"
Does collaborating artisticly as a married couple ever cause trouble?
I’m pretty blunt and upfront and I’m not worried about feelings and like “oh... well what if it sounds like this instead?”. I don’t sugar coat anything and Torin’s the exact same way with me. We’ve known each other for 12 years, it seems like when there is a deadline it really brings it out of you. Usually it’s not like that in day to day stuff, I try for it not to be, I'm a little more blunt than I probably should be, in every aspect.
You often travel outside of Wichita, what influenced you to find new sights and experiences?
My Dad, when he was 25 he spent the majority of a year backpacking throughout Europe. He always had such great stories, every time anything on the History Channel or National Geographic, whatever movie, it didn’t matter where it was in Europe he would always say “Oh I’ve been there, I remember that place" or "I had a really great time in that restaurant". Everything, he would recognize everything. He took me to Europe and we went backpacking for the summer when I was 20 and I was just hooked after that. Probably up until that point I would have been fine if I'd never gone anywhere.
What destinations inspire you the most?
I don’t know if I’ll be going back to Europe anytime soon, there are a lot of amazing things in the America’s to see, not in the United States but through Argentina. I like Central America a lot, it seems to be an ignored region of the world. Maybe 8 years ago I went backpacking through Central America. Then last year I went back and I spent a little over a month in Nicaragua, Torin met up and we traveled around that country for a week and a half after that. Machu Picchu is next on the list, I hope that’s not too far in the future. The hike, the mountains, it looks pretty amazing.
I always like coming back home though, I like Wichita. I think it’s kind of a natural desire for people to try and move out of their hometown. I don’t think I ever had that, I'm not sure why I’ve always been totally content here. I am glad the airport is being remodeled though, you'll no longer have to time warp to the 70’s and 80’s before you travel, that's a good thing.
"I think it’s kind of a natural desire for people to try and move out of their hometown. I don’t think I ever had that, I'm not sure why I’ve always been totally content here."
Georgia playing her grandfather's electric guitar. To hear more of her musical explorations visit her notes.scraps Soundcloud page.
In the last few years, what changes have you noticed in Wichita?
Wichita always seems on the cusp of something. The last couple of years of going down to Commerce St. on Final Friday, it’s insane. So many people, so many galleries. Lots of cool things happening in the street, performance art, vendors of all kinds, food, whatever you can think of. A creative person in Wichita can do whatever they want, they can have anything, everything is open. Anybody can find a gallery or a music venue to have a show within a relatively short amount of time, which may make it seem like it has this "small town vibe”, but we still are producing a good amount of amazing work. That’s another thing, a lot of the artists here are doing amazing work for very personal reasons and they don’t give a crap about outside exposure. That is why I love so many of the artists here in town, and musicians too. They're not concerned about “making it” they just explore and do.
Do you see Wichita pushing past that cusp and becoming a destination?
Yes, and a lot of good people are working really hard to make this happen, but to help it happen more quickly, we have to market ourselves better, individually and collectively. Like I said, one of the reasons I love this city so much is that a lot of people are so intrinsically motivated, but as a result, there are some brilliant folks here who get overlooked. To get more exposure as a city, we need to get more proud... proud of ourselves and proud of each other. Keep doing cool things, and keep supporting people who are doing cool things and it will continue to snowball.