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Meet… Anna Kövecses

Anna Kövecses is a Hungarian illustrator and artist whose inspiration comes from living by the Mediterranean, growing up in Eastern Europe and being the mother of three small children. Her digital collages are characterised by simple organic shapes, bright colours and ‘an atmosphere of simple naivety’. Here, she explains what ‘home’ and ‘privacy’ mean to her – and how she devised the visual themes for this year’s Life at Home Report.

Where and how do you live?

Right now our family lives between many places. Our only permanent home is our sailboat, and we split the rest of the year between Hungary and Cyprus, where our kids go to school. Last year we sold our belongings and bought a boat with plans to sail around the world. Our journey to now has provided some invaluable life lessons and changed our perspective. We decided to postpone our sailing-around-the-world plan and instead relocate to the calm and friendly Ionian islands. We’re also secretly searching for the perfect place to settle and build a real home with walls and a roof, and hope to find this dream place during the journey.

What’s the most important thing about home for you?

As we have called so many different places home in recent years, I honestly feel that I’m pretty great at establishing the feeling of home anywhere. Size, shape, style and neighbourhood are not quite as important as a table where our family gathers to have dinner, do homework, make art or watch a movie together. Also the first thing I do anywhere is to fill the walls with my kids’ art and unpack the espresso maker I carry around in my suitcase all the time.

What does privacy mean to you?

Privacy is a rare phenomenon in the life of any travelling family. Living on a boat with four other people of different sizes and needs inevitably means being in charge all the time. My husband and I work hard to squeeze in an hour of alone time separately for each other every day. If I’m lucky, I get to do some drawing or painting, but often it’s just about sitting with a cup of tea and reading a book or staring at the wall. 

"It's funny how mundane activities like doing the dishes or having a shower get tremendous value because they provide some much needed privacy"

What drives your creativity?

I’ve observed a repeating pattern in the arch of my creativity: there’s this period when I feel totally uninspired and empty and powerless, making me feel like I’m down deep in a valley. Then something happens: I see a movie, read a book, get a glimpse of a sign by the road…and this spark ignites a creative flood that spreads everywhere and surges upward, carrying me to the top of the mountain. At these moments I feel like I have superpowers… Suddenly I see the beauty in everything and I’m ready for everything, fully armed. At these times I juggle three-to-four different personal projects simultaneously, and my kids miraculously eat all the vegetables I put on their plates.

Can you tell us why you chose the iconography, forms and colours you did to show privacy and life at home?

The concept for this illustration was to show a large scene filled with people of different ages, genders and cultural backgrounds, enjoying a moment of privacy in their homes. I wanted to lace the individual scenes together in a way that allows this diversity to come through, yet still radiate the feeling of privacy. The simple minimalist forms that flow through the illustrations allow the small pieces to stick together like puzzles. Blocks of backgrounds here and there act as fragments of walls, while house plants double as dividers between the spaces. The colour palette is an extension of the classic IKEA blue and yellow, featuring natural shades of sand, pink, brown, sky-blue and lush green. They helped me bring in a layer of earthiness and nature, and allowed me to feature a wide range of skin colours to illustrate diversity.