Meet ‘Pop & Toast’ artist Anna McKeown

This Women’s Day, we speak to Irish artist Anna McKeown. Known as ‘Pop & Toast’, Anna burst onto the art scene in 2018 with her eye-catching paintings and fashionable sculptural bottles. Characterized by her trademark splashes of colour, each abstract piece symbolizes a celebration or a moment in time. Anna will showcase her vibrant hand-painted Champagne bottle prints at Iris Dubai from Friday, March 17, as part of the ‘Art of Iris’ Exhibition series.

Tell us about the art exhibition at Iris?

My champagne bottles have become a signature for my brand, and each painting signifies a particular connection to a place, a person, a time gone by, but most of all, a celebration. I will showcase a range of my bottle artwork as part of ‘The 5am Club,’ at Iris Dubai.

In June I will be showcasing a new NFT (non-fungible token) gallery – the first of its kind in the world. I will be exhibiting 10 pieces of artwork which will be transformed into 10 unique NFTs. I also have a continuous stream of commissions which are for private clients.

Can you tell us a bit about what exactly or who inspired you to become an artist?

I have always had a passion for art from an early age. I only ever saw myself working in a creative career, such as interior design, teaching, curation, consultancy or as an artist. I studied art history and contemporary studies alongside Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, so different genres and artists have influenced me over the years. I also spent time studying Fine Art in Cal Arts in Los Angeles, alongside pioneering artists from around the world, which paved the way to the creative journey I am on.

Prior to working as an artist, I was an arts educator for nearly a decade. I taught students for years to aspire, dream and always try their best to reach their goals – a few years ago, I decided to follow my own teachings and actually live my dream of being an artist, and I haven’t looked back.

Who would say are the most influential female artists that you admire and why?

I have been influenced by many different genres and artists over the years – such as the Female Abstract Expressionists from the 1950s, particularly De Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, with their freedom of expression and use of bright colours. I have also admired the 1990’s Brit Shock art movement, with artists such as Tracey Emin, Jenny Saville and Vanessa Beecroft. This was followed with a fond appreciation for abstract figurative female artists, such as Dana Schutz and Marlene Dumas.

I also admire Yayoi Kusama, for her bold collaborations with fashion powerhouses, such as her most recent work with Louis Vuitton. Yayoi Kusama is known around the world as an artist with a signature style of inserting motifs that transform empty canvases into colourful printed works of art. The addition of her characteristic polka dots represents an image of infinity. Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama unite through the pursuit of perfection in their craft. They both want the users of the accessories to recognise the time and effort invested in creating these pieces, truly works of art in their own right – I love the ridge between art and fashion.

What are some of your career highlights?

Within the first year of Pop & Toast I had a continuous stream of commissions for public and private clients. Showcasing in popular Dubai venues has catapulted my brand within an international arena and I have private customers now on a global scale.

Not only do I now work on a waiting list basis for original paintings, I supply prints to galleries and interior companies across the UK. I was also approached by Terra Virtua, the first fully immersive blockchain-driven VR platform.  I worked closely with the platform to create Pop & Toast’s first-ever NFTs –  which were launched last year and all sold out within less than 24 hours. That was a proud moment.

Any words or wisdom for budding female artists in the region?

I am a firm believer in collaboration and believe that helping each other in any way possible is the way forward – supporting others in their practice and journey – always learning from each other. Keep working on your dreams, and don’t give up – there is always someone out there who will celebrate you and your achievements. Back yourself, be confident and be open to working with others and new pathways.

About Anna McKeown

Anna McKeown, also known as ‘Pop and Toast,’ is an Irish artist based in Dubai. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2009 and has exhibited her work worldwide, featured in publications such as British Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Pop and Toast draws inspiration from fashion, popular culture, and iconic photographers such as Helmut Newton and Mario Testino. Her work, which includes bold and seductive bottle paintings, is highly sought after by collectors of glamorous art, with clients such as Clase Azul, McConnell’s Whiskey, and Jawbox.

Influenced by fashion, glamour and glossy magazines, Anna’s vibrant artwork perfectly complements the eclectic interior of Iris Dubai. Distinctive pieces of artwork part of ‘The 5am Club’ series will be exhibited at Iris on Friday, March 17th.