Ed Anderson is an Idaho-based artist known for his iconic scenes using bold colors and lines to present subjects from bush pilots to bull trout and bugling bull elk. We sat down with Ed to learn more about how he got into art, developed his style, and what has influenced him along his journey.
When did you first get interested in being an artist?
I’ve been doing art my whole life. My mom supported and encouraged it at a young age. I eventually landed in an advanced program in high school which led to architecture school at the University of Minnesota where I received a ROTC scholarship.
So you were in the military, where did that lead you?
Upon graduation I had the opportunity to serve in the US Air Force as an officer in Mountain Home, Idaho. I fell in love with the state. While I was in the service my passion was the mountains and most specifically, skiing. I wanted more than anything to own a condo at a big resort. There was only one problem, I couldn’t afford it. North of Boise they were talking about building the first destination ski resort in 30 some years, Tamarack. I went to check it out, got in line to buy property, and immediately knew it wasn’t the place to be.
Sounds like that was an important moment where you may have changed perspectives on things?
I was about to give up on a place in the mountains. Then, in 2003, I found what is now The No Business Lodge. My dad and I built the business to service the new resort until the economy collapsed in ’08 and ’09. Valley County was hit harder than anywhere in the country, we lost ALL of our customers. I was essentially unemployed. I needed to find new revenue sources and I had a bunch of free time, so a friend and I started fishing and hunting the river bottom around the Lodge wondering if there might be potential for guiding.
That was a tough time for a lot of people. What happened next?
Well at that time, the only trade I’d ever known was art. I taught myself just enough graphic design to get some jobs and learned how to do chalk boards in bars and restaurants. My concepts for my other art were definitely taking shape in my outdoor experience, but painting was definitely a side gig. I did manage to get a solo show in Sun Valley in 2012. It was mostly black and white portraits, but the owner knew about my journal where I would sketch my travels into the field. He sent me onto the street to promote the show and told me to do my sketches on butcher paper. The response was immediate and awesome. I sold every piece I cranked out that day.
That must have been a very encouraging experience, did you dive into art full force after that?
I went back to the studio and started to invent the painting style, which I call a controlled mess. Again, the response was great. I had some great publications pick up the work and quickly had some collectors. The quick gestures and bold lines lend to a bunch of different size canvases and the speed with which I paint lets me translate ideas fast.
How did you continue to develop your style? What subjects and stories are you most excited about telling in the future?
All of my work is derived from my journals and the stories I get to tell with it. I’m very fortunate to have great publications, non-profits and brands supporting and using what I do. Though I do a ton of fish and wildlife pieces, I consider the work more broadly “Americana.” I have interest in bush pilots, musicians, sports and adventurers. I hope over the next few years to use the work to discover and tell stories about our country in a much broader scope. Obviously, the travel component is a big part of that… I’ll be on a bunch of planes in the coming years getting into trouble around the world.