Artist Emily Anderson Offers Her Bluebird Fairies in an App | Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Artist Emily Anderson Offers Her Bluebird Fairies in an App


Published September 30, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated September 30, 2020 at 10:41 a.m.

  • Images Courtesy Of Emily Anderson

For years, Emily Anderson has been a regular at the South End Art Hop with a table full of fairies. More specifically, Bluebird Fairies — a series of informal drawings of fairies with quirky, encouraging phrases written in their speech bubbles, available as prints or a deck of cards. "Fairy that lifts you up off the floor and points you toward the light," reads one card. "Fairy of being what you eat," says another.

Anderson draws the fairies with her nondominant hand and treats them like a "less-intense tarot," she said, to be used when she, or anyone, needs encouragement or an intention for the day. Along with decks of 63 fairy cards, Anderson has sold individual prints and held drawing classes. But at this year's Art Hop, she was promoting something she actually created two years ago — an app called Fairy of the Day. With just a tap, any smartphone owner can see their day's fairy or several fairies.

  • Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
  • Emily Anderson

Anderson, an artist and former puppeteer with Bread and Puppet Theater, started out drawing demons roughly 13 years ago. Unlike the fairies, her demons, which she still draws, represent specific gripes and pains that have haunted her. "Demon who stuck the little seeds all over the back of my pantsuit" was one she'd drawn on the day she met with Seven Days for an interview.

But every demon drawing also includes a written antidote, a turn toward the positive. Seeds on the back of a pantsuit, for example, become reminders of nature's touch.

Originally, the demons were an exercise for Anderson, an attempt to let go of the need for perfection in her art and help process "the noise in my head," she said. Before long, she turned to drawing fairies, symbols of the good things in life.

"I was going through a huge transition in my life," she said. "I was always going through my cards and being like, 'Which ones are really speaking to me right now?'"

A friend saw them and insisted that she make prints, so Bluebird Fairies made its Art Hop debut six years ago.

Anderson enjoyed watching people respond to the fairies. She numbered them and had people choose a number for their card and fairy of the day. This, she explained, eventually evolved into the deck of fairy cards.

"I just started to accumulate so many amazing conversations based on these 63 fairies, which then just made me realize how much people are needing that opportunity to stop worrying and be compassionate for themselves, and to give themselves sort of a respite," she said. "Even just having a little conversation is an incredible respite."

Anderson even met her now-husband at Art Hop when he expressed interest in the fairies. Fairy of the Day, she noted, was his suggestion. The app was designed by artists and programmers at Sundae Month, a Vermont-based video game production studio, and includes 37 new fairies that weren't in the original deck. Though the app was finished in 2018, Anderson hasn't promoted it widely until now. She tends to take her time when making business moves, she said.

Anderson is inclined toward deep conversations, she mused, but thinks the lighthearted, messy nature of her fairy drawings keeps anything from getting too intense. For instance, the fairies all have what she calls "earnest eyebrows," like a shallow U-shape. They're essentially stick figures but really do look like they care about the viewer.

While Anderson acknowledges that the app and card deck are inherently different experiences, she hopes each serves a purpose in the lives of Bluebird Fairies enthusiasts. The app might provide a fairy on demand when someone needs a quick boost but doesn't have the time or space to get out a deck of fairy cards. Most importantly, she said, her fairies, whether digital or analog, are about connection — both with others and within oneself.

"If anything, doing this has gotten me to believe in the magic of human beings," she said.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Practical Magic"