High Profile: Ana Davidson of Saint Joan Studio
“Funny thing. I noticed it when I was in high school, and was sitting around with my friends—we were all really stoned and I felt the freedom to describe the synesthesia. ‘A’ is always red and so is the number two. Three is always yellow, E is always yellow… I just starting listing off all these colors that are tied to numbers and letters. And all my friends were all like you’re fucking crazy! I know you’re stoned Ana, but that’s, like, not a thing. No one else sees this, no one knows what you’re talking about. I didn’t talk about it again. I felt a little shamed. I was like, wow, you are a mega freak!
It wasn’t until about 10 years later until I said spoke about it again. Another person was talking about synesthesia. They had it, or a friend maybe? And they were describing it, and it was like that’s what I was trying to describe to my friends all those years ago. I went home and did a bunch of research. Went to a doctor and did all the tests, and yea, it was pretty clear. I didn’t know that this way of thinking was different than anyone else’s. It was so ingrained in me. I didn’t think to articulate it because I thought it was normal.”
Ana Davidson has a form of synesthesia in which she associates colors to certain numbers, letters, spans of time, songs, and a variety of different things. She doesn’t see those colors projected in the world like other synesthetes, but rather specific colors are bound to set numbers, letters, and sometimes objects.
Like every woman, Ana is not just one thing. She’s a fashion and prop stylist, costume designer, artist, musician, tarot and astrology reader, designer, maker, and friend. But through all these talents, one common thread weaves through each one, her relationship to color.
“If I have to go into the same office, in the same place, day after day, it brings a little soul death.”
“Costume designers use color to show you who is in a group. I love using color that way. Sometimes I’ll just want the characters to really compliment the background, almost monochromatic.”
In 2018 she worked on projects with brands such as ByGeorge, Verizon, Mineral Health, and Understated Leather. And the woman don’t stop there. You can find her work in publishers like Mother Muse, Paris!, Teeth Magazine, and KEIN Magazine. And did I mention Kesha? Yep, she styles music videos too. “I personally feel better when there’s more variety. If I have to go into the same office, in the same place, day after day, it brings a little soul death.”
Ana approaches her career with a sense of legacy and destiny. “Everything you do is preparation for where you end up.” She comes from a long line of customers and stylists dating back to her great aunt was the costumer to Susan Hayward in Durango, Mexico.
As a child though, Ana was a natural musician. A classically trained pianist starting at the age of six, she was also a singer/songwriter until her twenties. Although Ana’s musical career didn’t go platinum, it gave her an advantage in the behind the scenes world of rock n roll. “I used to play my own music in front of my friends and family, I’d make albums and self-release. It was this whole other life I had. And then sometime in my twenties, I just stopped. I just put down my guitar and piano and just stopped completely. A few years ago, people started hiring me for music videos and I just thought it was perfect. I totally understand these weird musicians, the way they work. I also totally understand this fantasyland we live in in the music video. Like the Shakey Graves video was supposed to be a creative joke, and it was just so much fun.”
“Everything you do is preparation for where you end up.”
Ana’s connection with color influences her uncanny ability to read people. Yes, this comes in handy in her work as a stylist, but it’s her work as an astrologist where she uses all of her natural abilities to read you as a person so she can paint you as a planet.
That’s right, she paints people as planets, and it’s awesome as it sounds. What started as astrology portraits Ana would give her friends on their birthdays, she now offers this as a service. (best gift ever btw for your chill, weed-smoking, best pal).
“I’ve been reading charts and tarot cards for friends for years, since I was a teenager. Since these astrology paintings can be so personalized, it made sense to turn it into a reading. When I make them, I think about that friend, their personality, I look up their chart for color references, but it’s all connected. My interpretation of who you are, what I read from the chart, the vibe you’re giving off while we’re sitting together, it all plays a part.”
When you look at Ana’s body of work, you’ll notice how she thoughtfully balances the objects against their setting. Ana fixates on how people or objects compliment with their environment. A signature style of hers is using inanimate objects as wearable pieces. Rope hats and tinsel earrings are spotted throughout her portfolio. She plays with color in relation to space and time like a musician plays with a new instrument, effortlessly pushing her experimental and playful range.
So yea, Ana is a pretty cool human. Working on creative projects with other women is pure, shiny joy. One that is new to this entrepreneur, but highly recommend for increase happiness in work and life.
The BARBARI X Saint Joan Asher started as many great things start, with a joint (or herbal spliff). Combining all the elements of your alter – ashtray, incense & an incense burner, inspired by the OG queen herself, mother earth.
5 steps to find your inner artists: with Ana Davidson
Rather than simply take you through how she made The Asher, we thought it might be more interesting to give you a peek into her creative process, and how she opens up her mind to actually create. We present to you a few steps on how to find your inner artist by Ana Davidson so that we can all see the world with a little with a little more color.
Step 1: See the earth as your very own art-o-rama
BARBARI: Where do you source your materials from?
ANA: Local stores in Austin like Jerry’s Art-O-Rama, the earth, and Etsy. I’ve also amassed an insane amount of clothing and craft materials over time. I try to recycle them for projects as often as possible.
Step 2: Ask yourself, “is this art?”
BARBARI: What is your source of inspiration for your products?
ANA: I’m very tactile and I like to collect raw, natural materials and keep them around my house. After having these things around for a few days products tend to just appear.
Step 3: Play with fire
BARBARI: How does nature impact your designs?
ANA: My mom was born and raised in Mexico and I grew up in a house that was filled with nature-based rituals. It’s an old form of Catholicism involving Saint worship that is prevalent in Mexico. There was a ritual for every season, but between October and January especially, the house would be filled with the smell of essential oils, and smoke from incense, herbs and candles. It was very magical. I try to recreate that magic by incorporating ritual and organic elements into each product.
Step 4: Make space to get weird
BARBARI: Do you have a creative process for designing and creating these pieces?
ANA: Like having space to spread out where I can be free of judgement and distractions. It’s hard for me to get into a creative state of mind if I’m in a dark, confined space or have to worry about what someone else might think. I need to give myself freedom and time to get weird. If I don’t do that for myself regularly, it takes longer to drop in the next time around and I end up frustrated and unproductive.
Step 5: Hang out with more women
BARBARI: What was your inspiration for the Asher?
ANA: My inspiration for the Asher was drawn from women, like you and Valarie, that are at the forefront of the Cannabis movement and insist on having products that are beautiful as well as functional. Women who use cannabis not only as a form of relaxation but also as a form of self-expression. I wanted to create a product that would facilitate that as much as possible.