Let's Meet: Anne Fisher Needlepoint

Headshot of Anne Fisher Needlepoint Designer
Anne of Anne Fisher Needlepoint

This week we're heading all the way to Pennsylvania to meet Anne of Anne Fisher Needlepoint!

Anne's worked in the needlepoint industry for over 20 years. Starting out as a custom painter for her local needlepoint shop, she's now stocked in needlepoint shops all over the USA! Anne's style is one of timeless elegance and she's designed many breathtaking custom pieces.

It's time to cosy up for a hand stitched adventure with Anne as she chats about the challenges she's faced, what everyday life is like as a needlepoint designer and much more!

Hello Anne, we'd love to know more about you and how you got into needlepoint...
I was so honoured to be asked to part of this wonderful “Let’s Meet” series. Writing about myself is not my forte but here goes. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my brother and my parents where I started taking art classes at a very young age. I graduated from an all-girls high school and went to a small New England liberal arts college. I spent every summer of my life on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

We lived in a house with my 4 cousins, aunt, uncle and grandmother and everyone on the block knew each other. Generations of families grew up together. One of my greatest blessings is being able to bring my children there and continue in that tradition.

After college I moved to Boston to work in an art gallery and, let’s be honest, to be closer to my boyfriend from Cape Cod. I moved back home to be closer to my parents after my brother died, married my boyfriend and before we knew it had 2 children 13 months apart (Dillon our daughter and Connor our son).

Geometric repeat pattern needlepoint clutch bag design in orange and yellow
Handpainted Canvases for a Clutch Bag Front and Back by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

My husband went to law school while the kids were very young and I wanted to be able to contribute something but selfishly still stay home with the children. Luckily for me I ran into a friend who owned a needlepoint business. I asked her where I could get plain canvas because I wanted to paint a piece to stitch for my mother. She immediately put me to work painting custom belts and pillows.

She soon opened a storefront and I was the custom painter. I could paint while the kids were napping, at nursery school or when they went to bed. It was perfect. When the store was sold, I got passed along with the inventory so to speak.

After painting custom pieces for 15 years I was pushed, gently, by friends and store owners to branch out. I started the wholesale side October of 2018 and haven’t looked back. With a freshman and sophomore in college I have more time to devote to the business and watch it grow.

Needlepoint zigzag eyeglass cases, whale keyring, zip pouch, dog commerband
Finished designs by Anne Fisher Needlepoint- Top R (L-R) Blue Orient and Zigzag Eyeglass cases Bottom R (L-R) Zigzag clutch, Puppy and Checked Commerbands

Silly facts about me: I played the flute for 8 years but I have always wanted to play the cello. I love to play paddle tennis but I’m not patient enough. My first concert was Wham! (I can’t believe I’m admitting that) and my favorite band is Pearl Jam.

I love to cook and, in another life, would own a small bistro and cook all day. I laugh so hard I cry – not often enough but when it happens I can’t stop. I am very shy around people and have a fear of public speaking (not great when you have to market yourself constantly).

I love anything blue and white and am obsessed with old black and white movies. I am turning 47 in April.

Pink and orange needlepoint cuff with repeat pattern design
Pink Self-finished Cuff by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

What does your creative process look like?
I love sitting at my desk with a piece of blank canvas and imaging the design. I do not sketch the design on paper first, I sketch and paint directly on the canvas. Almost every client wants to see a proof of the piece before I paint it and I think it’s easier for them to see what it’s really going to look like if I show them on scrim vs. paper.

If I’m painting a belt I paint each icon and then move onto the next. When I’m painting a larger piece I always paint the detail first. I keep lots of leftover pieces of scrim to paint new designs before committing. That way I can play with colors and sizing more easily.

I go through a lot of brushes! Needlepoint canvas is very hard on brushes so there is no need to invest in expensive ones. You really need a few small ones and 1 or 2 larger ones for background painting.

Sledge with wreath needlepoint ornament canvases
Sledge Ornament with Wreath by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

How do you make sure repeats of the same design are all exactly the same? If I were doing this I know there’d be a lot of do overs!
The first thing I do after I paint a canvas is take a picture of it and scan it into my computer. That way if I need to repaint something for a client (I can’t tell you how many people have left canvases on a plane or in a hotel during a trip) I have the photo for reference. I also try to keep notes on each project for reference.

Hand painting each canvas is very time consuming. When I began the wholesale side of the business I started out painting every single canvas myself and it took hours – especially the very complicated designs. Thankfully there are services that can help with large orders when the demand is high.

Blue and white needlepoint canvases handpainted zigzag and repeat patterns
Eyeglass cases, keyrings and clutch bag needlepoint canvases by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

Do you needlepoint as well as paint canvases?
I don’t think you can be a needlepoint painter and not be a needlepointer. Especially if you stitch paint, like I do. It is incredibly helpful to understand where the stitches are going when designing a canvas.

I began needlepointing small pieces my mother would bring back from her trips to Bermuda. I wish I had more time to stitch honestly - there are so many canvases in my stash just waiting to see the light of day.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from trips I have taken and from spending summers on Long Beach Island, New Jersey and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I like simple, practical designs that allow the client to embellish in their own way.

Anne stitching a clutch bag needlepoint canvas on holiday
Holiday stitching with Anne Fisher Needlepoint

How do you work with a custom order client to make their dream a reality?
I began my needlepoint career painting only custom one of a kind pieces. I would speak with the client about their idea and begin by sketching their vision on canvas. That allows me the ability to go back and make any changes without repainting an entirely new piece.

Once we agree on the vision I paint the piece. I like the freedom to do custom work and to see something completely new and unique each time. One special piece I did was a clutch that a bride was going to carry on her wedding day.

Blue and white personalised bridal clutch bag
Personalised Bridal Clutch by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

You sell your canvases at Trunk Shows. As we don’t have those here in the UK, would you tell us a bit about them?
A trunk show is arranged by a needlepoint store who would like to showcase your designs for a designated amount of time (normally a month) without having to purchase all the designs. Most stores will offer a discount on your pieces while the show is at their store and they advertise on their website and social media which is wonderful marketing for me.

I try to send one trunk show out a month so I don’t have too much inventory out at one time. When the show is complete the store mails back what did not sell and a check for what did. It’s a wonderful way to get my canvases to parts of the country that may not be familiar with them. I also try to send samples so people can see the finished pieces.

Anne Fisher's needlepoint canvases on a wall display in a sewing shop
Anne Fisher Trunk Show at Erica Wilson

What does a typical day look like at Anne Fisher Needlepoint?
Both my husband and I work out of our home so a “typical” day starts with coffee and catching up on the news. I then go to my office and he goes to his. I spend more time than I would like answering emails, dealing with invoicing/accounting and keeping up on marketing. It’s the side of a small business that no one tells you about!

I paint for about 6 to 8 hours a day. When my husband tells me it’s getting late, I stop, make dinner and hang with him. If I’m in the middle of a big project I go back to work. Without having the kids home I have the ability to keep my own hours – which is a blessing and a curse.

I am so blessed to be creative each day. I couldn’t ask for a better profession.

Needlepoint belt design depicting images of skiing, moutains and cable car
Custom needlepoint belt design by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

What challenges have you faced?
Starting the wholesale side of the business over a year ago was an eye opener. I had to learn very quickly how to manage my inventory and my time. I am very lucky to have so many wonderful designers in the industry who helped answer any and all questions – no matter how ridiculous. Without them I would have been lost.

The custom side comes with its own challenges. Rule number one: the customer is always right. Rule number two: you have to learn how to say no. I am still learning how to do this! One of my dear friends once said to me, “There is no such thing as a needlepoint emergency”.

What’s your favourite design?
My favorite design right now is the Provence Pillow. I painted it to remind me of all the beautiful French linens I love so much. I can’t wait to show everyone at the Spring Needlepoint Show in March where it will debut along with the Backgammon Board. Another obsession right now.

Floral repeat pattern pillow needlepoint canvas and backgammon boards
Provence pillow and backgammon boards by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

Which indie designers do you love?
There are so many amazing designers out there right now it would be hard to pick! I am in awe of all the young women who have been able to bring needlepoint into the mainstream with their kitschy and cool designs. I think the support we all give each other within the industry is so important. It’s not your grandmother's needlepoint anymore.

Do you listen to podcasts while you stitch?
I don’t listen to podcasts but I love to listen to old black and white movies, reruns of Grey’s Anatomy and Jane Austen movies while I’m working.

What advice would you give budding needlepointers?
Don’t be afraid to try a canvas that might look challenging. Start with one color and work your way through the canvas. My favorite part of a new project is when I pick out the threads and think about the stitches I’m going to use. Grab a book at your local needlepoint store and try something new.

Most stores have scrap pieces of scrim around and will show you how to get started. Needlepoint allows you to explore with color and texture and gives you free reign to try something new. In the end you have a project that is individual to you and what was going on in your life at the time. Once you’re hooked you’re hooked for life 😊

Needlepoint canvas of a man on one knee proposing to a woman under a suspension bridge
Custom engagement needlepoint canvas by Anne Fisher Needlepoint

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Anne! It was such a pleasure to meet you and learn more about you and your love of needlepoint, as a stitcher and as a designer.

Need more Anne Fisher in your life? Head to Anne Fisher Needlepoint to see Anne's whole catalogue, her stockists and examples of finished canvases. Don't forget to follow Anne's journey on Instagram too.

Last time Brooke of Thorn Alexander shared her story with us, if you missed it then, Let's Meet: Brooke of Thorn Alexander! Next time we'll be meeting Emma of The Maker's Marks and I can't wait!

We love hearing from you, please leave your thoughts or questions for Anne in the comments.

Did you enjoy this post? Sign up to my newsletter to get more stitchy goodness delivered directly to your inbox. I can't promise it'll be weekly but I can promise it'll be a healthy dose of floss-filled fun.

I'll be back soon...until then, have a stitch-tastic time!

Shannan, Bobbin and Fred xX

Fred the goat asking for social shares if you enjoyed this post

No comments

Search This Blog

Powered by Blogger.