For this week’s blog, I am interviewing an artist I found on Etsy. I’m pleased to introduce Donna Sanna. Donna’s work is so magical that I immediately knew I needed to interview her. She creates a world of digital animal characters that live in a world called “Fancyville.” Each character has his or her own name and story. Donna will tell you in her own words about her artistic journey and how animals inspire her creatively.
Eirwen (her name means white as snow) is a beautiful showgirl, but no ordinary showgirl. During the winter, she uses her magic emerald ring to create soft as cotton powdery snow that she swirls into intricate designs. Then she dances, putting on a show that is as spectacular as the view. She dresses lightly as the magic snow is a cozy 75 degrees, slowly disappearing as the show comes to an end. And that's a Fancyville winter.
Animals not only inspire my work, but my everyday life. Over the years I have rescued and rehabilitated many wild and domestic animals. It all started with a little tree toad when I was 10 years old, which I accidentally and unknowingly killed with fresh water. A half century later, I’m still not over it. The animals, whether mammals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures, etc., have been a source of wonder, intrigue, and pure joy all of my life. I cannot imagine a world without them. Bugs….that’s a little bit of a different story.
I’ve always had pets. At times, multiple pets: 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 iguanas, a tankful of fancy guppies, a beta fish, and the constant stream of wild orphans. But as the years passed by, so did my babies, none of which I replaced. When I finally lost my last cat at 23 years old, I think I wanted to die myself. I lasted 4 months without a pet…crying the entire way home from work, knowing no one was there to greet me. Finally, I adopted my incredibly beautiful German Shepherd, Anja (pronounced Ahn-ya). For the next 12 years, it was just she and I. Then, in 2009, I lost my job at the peak of the economic collapse. Two years later, and still no work, I lost my beloved Anja. By this time, as a single homeowner, the last thing I could afford was to responsibly take care of a pet. This, I do believe, was the loneliest time of my life. Desperate to create income streams, a friend told me about Etsy. To make a long story short, after brain-burning thought, for months, a conversation with my dear mother about my situation, along with the grief of losing my dog, led to what is now the family of anthropomorphs that reside in “Fancyville,” the happy town within my Animal Fancy shop. They all have names and roles in the community. I needed to create a world in which I could feel happy again. To date, while I am working a full time job, I am unable to have pets in a rental townhome after a decision to sell my home. Not to be defeated by petlessness (if that’s a word), I befriended my backyard squirrels. They all have names too and I’m certain they think I’m a walking, talking oak tree that produces all kinds of shelled nuts. My only regret is that I can’t pick them up and scratch behind their cute little ears when they come to feet and look at me with that, “can I have a cookie?” expression.
Blue skinned and beautiful, Queen Azura lives in the only dark castle in Fancyville. She is quite powerful, very vocal, and a force to be reckoned with. In fact, she has complete rule over the planet Neptune. Of course she made it blue, being that she tends to be a bit narcissistic. But she also made Neptune the planet of dreams and wishes, filling Fancyville with a fantastic imagination. Ironically, it keeps all of Fancyville feeling anything but blue.
Like most children, I’m pretty certain I started creating just about anything by the time I was able to hold a crayon. I made all kinds of things out of anything scrap I could find. The compelling need to always be making “something” just never went away. So to answer your question, it’s been about since the .06 cent stamp.
My work is created entirely digitally although my camera comes in quite handy when I see an irresistible face. Once I have the ingredients for an image, it all takes place on this computer.
Well, this is a tough question. I love all animals so much that to choose a favorite out of my 300+ characters is quite difficult. But artistically speaking, I’m very happy with Emma. Working with the sheer organza fabric around her face and hands was challenging and I’m happy with the way it turned out.
Beautiful, ethereal Emma is the keeper of all dreams and wishes. Every now and then, even in Fancyville, life has it's distractions that cause dreams to fade from memory. Emma's special powers ensure that no dreams are ever lost or forgotten. She never speaks a word, just uses her magic to restore lost dreams in any of the animal's minds.
Yes, I have much respect for the real people in these old vintage photographs I use in my art. I can only hope that I am somehow keeping them alive, albeit reincarnated, and hope they would be happy to know that they’re still bringing happiness to those on the worldly earth. Also, I would like to thank the thousands of people around the world that enjoy my artwork. This is my greatest inspiration. Animals make us smile, and my customers and people just browsing my shop are so kind to send messages telling me how much they enjoy my art. So, to all of you, thank you so much for making me feel useful and for the opportunity to bring a smile into your lives. I am grateful to connect with the world in this way, and to have ample opportunity to donate my artwork to charitable causes that bring awareness and a hope to end the suffering and abuse of animals all over our sometimes cruel world. Many many thanks, Mary and Jon, for this interview, and for your own amazing contributions to animal welfare.
Thank you Donna for taking time to share your amazing work with us!
To read more of her character's stories and see more of Donna and her animal family visit her at www.animalfancy.etsy.com.