Interviewed in April of 2014
Hometown: Beverly, MA
Current town: Somerville, MA
Website: Click Here
Email: Click Here
1.) Amanda you’re from Beverly, MA right up on the North Shore. Can you tell us a little about growing up there, and why you snubbed Montserrat College of Art to go to RISD? ;)
Hey! No hard feelings, Montserrat. Beverly’s awesome, but I was ready to bust out of my hometown bubble. RISD is considered one of the best and most rigorous art colleges in the country -- I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I spent a lot of my childhood going to art classes, playing video games, recreating my favorite characters (Pikachu, Yoshi, my Neopets), and tormenting/being tormented by my three younger siblings. We were constantly surrounded by pets: dogs, cats, a rabbit, a parakeet, hamsters, frogs. And nothing beats those New England summers. I feel very fortunate to have grown up here.
2.) Are there any specific locations here in New England that have had a profound meaning to you and your art? i.e.; Any place of major inspiration or childhood memory?
Some places that come to mind are Lynch Park, Good Harbor Beach, my parents’ old basement, and T3: the legendary art room in the old Bev High School. How these may have influenced my work is a bit of a mystery, even to myself, but they do recall a lot of good memories.
3.) In your current position you work as a graphic designer for Stoneham Theatre. Can you tell us about the various types of design projects you tackle during your day job? (Postcards, Posters, Web design? anything like that?)
Playbills, show artwork, title treatments, season brochures, website updates, e-blasts, print and web ads, billboards, invitations, posters, postcards, t-shirts. My assignments are split between different departments within the theater: marketing, development, education. I’m a busy bee!
4.) You have a successful Etsy store where you’ve leveraged many of your designs for greeting cards, buttons, and the like. With today’s thriving online marketplace, how has this ability to bring your wares “virtually” everywhere helped to expand your brand and clientele?
I opened my Etsy shop in 2011 with one item in inventory -- a birthday card featuring my illustration titled Ten Little Corgi Pups. How many Corgi lovers are there in the world? WAY more than I expected. I’ve shipped my work all over the US, and to the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong. I’ve accumulated a following just by making an occasional appearance within the Corgi community on Tumblr! A handful of them have commissioned me to do portraits of their fur babies. In 2012, I got an e-mail from a professor in Texas inquiring about a personal painting-in-progress I had posted on Tumblr. He happened to stumble upon my work while Googling Corgi art. It’s fun, too, to participate at art sales every now and then and have someone come over to the table like, “Oh! I’ve seen your stuff on Etsy!” It’s been incredible. The internet is fascinating.
5.) Your illustration style is very balanced, precise and organized. Does this actually carry over to your workplace or studio space?
Any outside chance your studio is a total disaster, and these cute, clean, and beautiful paintings came from that?
Ahhhh. Yes... lots of outside chance. When I’m busy, it’s reflected in my work area -- stuff gets strewn everywhere. Eventually I hit a wall though, and I won’t be able to concentrate again until everything’s out of my way. Stress cleaning is a thing.
6.) Your work has a consistency to it no matter what the medium. You work both traditionally and digitally. How do you maintain your style and palette so seamlessly, and how do you decide what medium to work in from piece to piece?
I love the process of painting so much that at first I avoided working digitally whenever I could -- most of my student work was done traditionally. But I’m so meticulous with my drawings anyway that it’s pretty easy to switch gears. All of my sketches are done by hand, manipulated in Photoshop, and then traced. The thought process for both is generally the same. Whether I work traditionally or digitally usually depends on if and how the illustration will be reproduced later on. Art I make for myself is more likely to be done as acrylic on canvas just for the sake of wanting to paint.
7.) Your first children’s book I See. You See. We ALL See! came out in January. How did you find the collaboration process? Is this book part of a series? Is children’s book illustration something you want to explore more?
I See. You See. We ALL See! is a board book self-published by Allison Joyce, a mother from Hingham. She co-wrote the text with her father Don McClain to encourage little ones, like her daughter Emma, to wear their prescription eyeglasses. Allison had a pretty clear idea about the direction of the book from the beginning, but allowed me to take lead with the art and was very open to my suggestions along the way. Being my first contract job -- one in which I had to fully illustrate and design 12 pages in a single month, communicating mostly via e-mail -- I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the process went. The book isn’t part of a series at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Allison has some more ideas up her sleeve. I’d love the opportunity to work on some more picture books.
8.) It’s obvious from your online portfolio that you gravitate towards certain themes in your personal work... I’m thinking about a certain Corgi. Is there a real life muse for this character?
Pica! (Pronounced “pie-kuh”). AKA Pica-chu, Bunny Butt, Corgisaur. And no, she’s not named after the eating disorder. You type nerds know where I’m at. Check out her dogblog: picathecorgi.tumblr.com.
9. Dream client? Go.
Chronicle Books, hands down! Target would be pretty cool, too.
10.) What’s been the most challenging part of building a career as an artist? i.e.; family, $$$, time, inspiration, networking, etc….
Probably time and money. Most of my energy is fed into my day job since it’s steady work and my leading source of income. I’m not at a point yet where my illustration is in high demand. It’s easy for my motivation to drop after a long day in the office, so finding a balance between my day job and my personal work is tough. It helps to have outside commitments to nudge me into productivity -- like commissions or other hard-line assignments. I’m a stickler for deadlines, but not necessarily my own.
11.) Can you give us a couple of artists you’ve been looking at? Who’s about to blow up? Give us a couple of people to Google.
Jessica Hische, Aaron Meshon, Chris Cyr, Dana Tanamachi, Sam Wolfe Connelly, JooHee Yoon, Chelsea Bloxsom (Love & A Sandwich), Lauren Minco, Allison Cole, Susie Ghahremani. Some of my current faves!
12.) What’s next for you? Any future project or client?
A few small commissions coming up -- and hopefully more personal work! I’ve been dying to do some public art, so if you know anyone that has a wall yearning for attention...
13.) You’ve said before in interviews that your eventual goal is to be a full-time freelance illustrator. What about that career attracts you? Is it the variety of projects, the thrill of the hunt, or the being your own boss?
Getting a variety of different projects and clients would probably be the best part! It would keep things interesting and open up more opportunities for my work to be seen and shared. Having the flexibility in creating my own schedule would be sweet, too.
14.) Now that you are 2 years out of school... what is something school didn’t teach you that you think all graduating seniors need to know?
Printing processes, negotiation, making career moves. Though maybe the only real way to know is to experience it firsthand. I’m still learning.
15.) One last question? Ever thought about a career in animation? It sure seems like it would be a seamless transition. Your style of work almost begs to be animated!
Aw, shucks! Thank you. I’d love to explore animation at some point. **