Artist of the Month: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Amber Vittoria
In the world of art, design and all things creative, there’s no shortage of snake oil purveyors. Gatekeepers galore. Perfectly packaged personas.
Which is why Amber Vittoria has always been such a refreshing presence. We first featured the New York City–based illustrator and designer as a New Visual Artist (formerly our annual “15 Under 30” issue) in 2017. In the years since, her striking work has proliferated and blossomed in new directions, with clients including The New York Times, Warby Parker, Google, K-Swiss, Gucci, Adidas and more.
Alongside that work—which showcases the world as brilliantly seen through her eyes, and which she describes simply as focusing “on femininity and the female form, leveraging physical traits such as overtly extended limbs and rounded features”—there’s the artist herself, whose candid, authentic and honest presence inspires.
Here, she discusses her creative roots, her advice to budding illustrators, the life of a freelance creative—and the unexpected source of her signature vibrant color palette.
You’re originally from Carmel, New York, and back in 2017 when we talked for the NVA issue of PRINT, you recounted your earliest creative memory to us. I’m wondering if you could tell us that again.
Every year at our elementary school we would do a self-portrait on 11 by 15 paper, and they would keep them all and staple them all together with all the days that we drew [them]. When we graduated fourth grade, we had these five portraits from kindergarten to fourth grade to look back on. And in second grade, I believe it was—I could double-check because I remember my outfit from that day [laughs]—I was drawing a portrait of myself, and the boy across from me was like, “Why are you drawing yourself like that? That’s not what you look like.” I’m like, “What? This is how I see myself. Go away. This is my portrait. Get out of here.”
I love that.
And he just kind of shrugged and went off on his own business of his own self-portrait. That was the first time that I [realized] I have—obviously not in as sophisticated words, being 8—full agency over what I put on the paper and how I see myself, and how I depict that.
That’s my favorite set of portraits that I, now, as an adult, like to refer back to as inspiration for my current work.
Your dad seems to work in finance. What about your mom? And how did they influence, or notice your talents, early on?
My dad works in finance, and my mom, she used to work a few secretarial jobs. I’m the eldest of two; I have a younger brother who is two years younger than me. When I was born, they were weighing the pros and cons of “do we get daycare or care for our newborn so we can both work?” And they did the math, and it cost about the same amount as my mom was making to have daycare, so she was like, “Well, I’ll just stay at home, then.”
So she was a stay-at-home mom for both of us. And then they both influenced my work greatly. They’ve always been big champions of me and my brother doing what we love in our lives. They were always very much … “regardless of what you end up falling in love with, life isn’t easy, but you will figure it out—and at least you have this thing that you love that you continue to explore throughout your life.” So they were big champions of that. Which I’m really grateful for.
And they both have my artwork everywhere. Artwork from middle school. I’m like, “Yeah, maybe we can swap that out …” [laughs]
How did your creativity manifest in your high school years?
I was really lucky to have a great set of art teachers. One, he was more focused on fine art; another, also focused on fine art, but he worked as a comic book artist, I believe for DC comics. And then another used to be a graphic designer at, I believe, IBM, before he started teaching.
So it was really fun to have those three different perspectives and they—our art program in high school—kind of let us play. So for kids that were really interested in art, we could take extra classes, and eat lunch with them and just hang out and draw all the time, which is very much what I did.
I really just played with everything. … And they would make sure we would hit off on all the requirements for college, if that’s the route we were seeking, which I was. And so figure drawings, and still-life drawings and paintings and things like that, but then for the rest of our portfolio, they very much encouraged us to experiment and play and just make what we felt was important to us at that time.
I found an ad in The New York Times congratulating The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers on the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2008, which included you. Do you remember the piece that you had in there?
Yeah. It was photography, actually. I think that’s … I think it was a series? I’d have to dig through my hard drives to confirm that, but yeah, I think it was four or five photos, and I believe all of them, maybe minus one or two, were done on a film camera that my mom actually gave my dad when they were dating, and then I stole from them as a teenager [laughs].
It was really exciting to win. I think that was the first time I ever was recognized for any of my work.
You went to Boston University, and you got your BFA in graphic design. Why did you choose design, and what sort of design did you hope to be doing after you graduated?
I wanted to go to a university or college that had an art program instead of just an art school. I think at the time, it was more like, “well, what if I go to school for art and realize I hate it? Then that’ll be uncomfortable to have to switch out of schools.”
And then the second [consideration] was to be able to befriend people that had majors outside of fine art, just to get different perspectives from different people. So BU’s program, at the time, had graphic design, painting and sculpture as majors, and I believe now they also have printmaking. But that didn’t happen until I was a senior in college, so I couldn’t get into that, but graphic design I really was drawn to because it allowed me to combine different types of media and to tell a story.
At the time I loved photography and I loved drawing and I loved painting, and I was 18, and I was like, “I don’t know what type of artist I want to be, so design sounds like it encompasses all the things. Great.”
BU’s program was really great because the first two years were more fine-art based, so painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking, and then the latter two years were more design thinking. At the time it was more of a print-focused program, so grid structures and books and things like that, layout, and typography. So I feel like that combination of the two kind of weirdly netted out illustration for me; being able to apply fine art practice and design thinking together in my brain started pushing me toward an illustrative path.
And then when I graduated, I was lucky enough to move home. It took about seven or eight months for me to find a full-time design job, but I was just freelancing jobs that I’d find on Craigslist, whether illustration or design. And then I started working full time in the city, and would freelance nights and weekends as an illustrator, but also try to still figure out who I was and what I was trying to say with my work.
I love too that you’re always super transparent about how you were able to move home after school, and that your parents helped you pay for schooling. Why do you feel it’s important to disclose that?
I guess a good parallel for me is seeing artists that are a little bit more successful, they would come to BU and give talks, and they’d be like, “And yeah, I started getting clients.” And I’d be like, “Wait, but how? How did you do that?” They’d say, “Yeah, they just started reaching out to me.”
“Yeah, but how did they know where to find you?”
And they’d be like, “They just did.” OK, that’s not helpful. So when I tell my story I try to be as specific as possible, because I feel like now, more so than back when I went to school—even though it wasn’t that long ago—people are starting to realize that college is really expensive; a majority of millennials are saddled with debt, and a lot of people, especially in the arts, are starting to question, “do I need to go to a four-year school?” So I like to say I loved going to school. I feel like it very much matched my personality and how I learned at the time, but obviously it was very expensive, and to have parents that let you move home and helped cover a majority of your education is definitely a privilege, and I think that if people were reading my story and making a decision of whether or not they should go to college, it’s just easier to be transparent about how I was able to financially get through it.
Totally. Did you intern at Sony in college, or after college?
In college. So that was, I think, the only unpaid internship I did, which in hindsight, eye roll. … It’s really expensive to get from where I grew up in New York down to the city every day. I asked, “Do you offer a stipend for travel?” And they were like, “No.” And I couldn’t afford to go down every day, so I was like, “Can I come down one day a week?” And they said, “Sure.” Which in hindsight is a waste [laughs].
But the one day I was there was really great; the art directors were all really lovely and they all worked on different sectors. So I worked with one that did a lot of album covers of jazz music that they had. So just seeing how they put album covers together, and learning things like how to use stock photography, and rights around stuff like that. … It was definitely awesome to have that learning experience, but I would advise anyone that ends up reading this or reading anything from any artist, don’t take an unpaid internship. It definitely comes from a position of privilege to be able to do so. I think that people should get paid for their labor.
That was something I didn’t know when I was 20, but at 30, I know.
... I mean, I’m glad I went to college because I feel like, I don’t know, 18-year-old me would have flailed around. But you don’t have to. I think that that’s good for people to know for certain fields. Obviously if you’re going to become a doctor, yeah, you’ve got to go to school, but if you’re an artist, you just have more power in deciding what makes the best sense for you and your learning.
After graduation, you worked at Victoria’s Secret. What was that experience like?
I was there for about, I want to say, a year and a half. The first part of that I would commute down every day, and then the second half of that, I was able to move into the city in Astoria.
Everyone [at Victoria’s Secret] was really lovely. I was the youngest person there, I believe, because it was just a few months after I graduated, so everyone really took on a mentorship role. It was really nice to learn how a team—it was a pretty decent-sized team, 10 to 20 people—work together to publish the website every day. So I learned a lot from that.
After a while, though—I didn’t realize it at the time—I feel like just looking at a specific type of imagery every day started to wear on my self-confidence a lot. I feel like advertising in general, it’s gotten a lot better, but especially then, you constantly saw the same depiction of what an “ideal woman” was.
That wore on me, in combination with the fact that I knew I eventually wanted to work for myself. I thought a good skillset to have would be to be able to juggle multiple clients, so I wanted to work at an agency at some point. Not forever, but just to learn that skill amongst people that already had that skill.
And so after that, you became social media designer and art director at VaynerMedia, right?
Yeah, so Vayner was pretty great. I met my husband there, which is awesome. [Vayner] is really where I learned how to leverage social media to put my artwork out there. And that’s really the time period where I started to figure out what type of artwork I wanted to make.
And so I took that knowledge and started to share my artwork on Instagram and hope for the best. Working at an agency … the days are pretty long sometimes, and it could be really draining hopping from client to client and doing pitches and having last-minute client edits. I don’t think that it was very healthy in terms of how available you would need to be. Vayner was definitely healthier than other agencies at the time, but I was so exhausted at the end of the day, I barely had any energy to make artwork for myself or freelance, and from that I started to grow kind of unhappy. Then I started to analyze why, and I realized dedicating all of my energy to my job is not the healthiest thing, and that’s when I decided to find a job that was a bit more of a proper 9 to 5, that allowed me more time to explore these experiments of drawing that I’d been doing for the last few years in my sketchbook more thoughtfully. So that’s when I decided leave for a job that was a little less taxing.
Was that at Avon?
That was Avon, and Avon was really great. … I was able to come home and still have emotional capacity to make artwork for myself, and then slowly start to bake in freelancing work into my free time instead of being fully dedicated to my full-time job.
And so in 2017, you went solo. What was that like? Was it terrifying? Empowering? Sort of inevitable, given the direction you were going?
I think a combo. “Inevitable,” I wouldn’t have said in 2017, but definitely terrifying and empowering. I remember, it was right around when my grandmother was really sick and shortly after passed away, and I was just like, “why am I balancing freelance work and full-time work”? I was in a fortunate position where I had enough money saved, that my now-husband was just like, “if you can’t make the rent, it’s OK. I can figure out how to cover you.” And having my parents as a support system, I think that was really important for me. I don’t have children. I didn’t have any debts, so I think that that all gave me the confidence to be like, “OK, if this really flunks, I can support myself for a few months and then I’ll just find another full-time job.”
I was fortunate to tap into the freelance clients that I had built up over the year and a half that I was at Avon, and lean into that. I was really scared. I think, funnily, looking back, the scariest part was health insurance. And this is before I had any of the health problems that I have now. They all happened while I was a freelancer. I have severe, severe allergies that put me in the hospital on average one to two times a year, that didn’t start until then. Well, they started before then—I just didn’t realize I was allergic to a lot of food until after. So I laugh looking back—I guess I was right about being afraid about health insurance.
But hopefully one day we’ll have universal healthcare and people won’t have that fear. I feel like that is what stops a lot of people from starting their own thing because it is expensive. I literally have a reserve just for my health, because of how expensive the ER and ambulances are, and EpiPens and all that jazz …
And I think that is probably the most valid part of my fear. The other part was imposter syndrome and, oh God, what if no one likes my work?
And having a few years behind me, I’m like, eh, even if no one liked your work, you would have figured it out. It would have been fine.
Back in 2017, you described it to us as “unsolicited emails and a prayer for a response.”
Yeah. True [laughs].
After you became independent you were a PRINT NVA, a Young Guns winner, Forbes 30 under 30. I’m curious about the pressure that accolades like that have on you in real time, for better or worse.
Yeah, I would say that, it’s funny, because when you get them you’re like, woohoo! Yes! That’s so cool! And then shortly after you go to make your next piece of art and you’re like, “Oh my God” [laughs].
It just seems like it would be wild pressure.
I notice that whenever I do win an award for my illustration or am noted in something, I’m always like, oh man, what’s my next thing? And so that’s when I [realize], well, that’s not very healthy. So this year that’s why I’ve decided to not apply to any awards and just make work and be happy with that, and then if next year I feel like there’s something I did that I would like to have an award for, I’ll apply and see if I can get it. But yeah, there’s definitely, I guess for lack of a more accurate term, imposter syndrome, where you’re like, Am I still good?
Tell us about how observing your teenage cousin’s Snapchats led to your Female Form series.
Oh, yeah. She’s much older now. I don’t even think she has social media anymore, which, good on her. She [was] sending selfies to all her different friends, and taking them over and over and over again and posing—which, these things are all fine. How you put yourself out, present yourself to the world, is great, but I felt like it started to fall under how society felt women should present themselves, and I was like, I feel like that is interesting, and I don’t know what that means. But I hope that people feel comfortable presenting themselves in what feels right to them, and not feel the pressure of society telling them how they should present themselves.
So that’s something I’ve always taken note of. I was also a little grateful that I was a bit older and that I wasn’t 13, 14, living through social media, because I don’t know how I could handle that. I give Gen Z a lot of credit for navigating all of these different platforms and how to present themselves online and what feels authentic to them. I feel like it takes a lot of emotional maturity to do that, and I did not have that.
Nor did I. I don’t know how anybody that age can navigate that, and the record of the permanent digital imprint that it causes. It’s wild to think about.
You’ve said that the key to good design is putting yourself into the work, and it’s a lesson that you picked up from James Victore. Did you pick it up by observation, or did he teach you at some point?
Well, I’ve been a huge fan of his work for a long time, and I think almost seven years ago now, he reached out to me on Twitter. He was like, “Hey, how old are you?” And he put “for professional reasons” in parentheses. And I was like, “I’m 24.” He said, “Great, I think you should apply for Young Guns.” … I just had gotten his book for Christmas, and I was like, “Can we meet so you can look over my work?” And he said, “Sure.”
So I went to his studio a few weeks later to show him my work, but secretly I just wanted him to sign my book. So I got there, and he’s like, “You didn’t have to come here. You could have just emailed me. You didn’t have to come all the way out here,” and I was just like, “well …” and I took my book [out], and he went to his wife and said, “Laura, she has my book,” and I was like, “Can you sign it?” [Laughs.]
[So it was] just learning through how he presents himself in his work that’s been really helpful for me, and just how honest he is in everything that he does, and everything that he puts out there, I think. It allowed me to connect with him before I even met him in person. I was like, I want that in my work in however I interpret that for my own style.
He’s been really helpful in that regard. Both after I met him and before.
At Pictoplasma in 2019, during a discussion about the notion of personal style in illustration, you said, “If you make something, it is in your style.” Can you expand upon that a little bit?
Yeah, I remember after I wrote that I was like, “Well, unless you’re copying somebody else.” [Laughs.] I feel like the older I’ve gotten, the less soundbite-y I get, which is tough because I feel like we grew up in a Twitter generation where everything’s a freaking soundbite.
A lot of students would ask me, “How do I find my style?”—like it’s a treasure chest buried somewhere—I’m like, “Well, if you make something that’s important to you, and that feels personal to you, that’s your style.” It doesn’t necessarily have to look similar; as long as it comes from you and comes from an honest place, then that’s who you are. I think we get hung up on a visual style just because that’s what most artists, myself included, tend to have.
But if you look back at any artist’s work chronologically, you see how their work ebbs and flows with time. Just like you being a human being, your work will change with you.
Totally. Tell us how you regard color in your work. Your palette is so alive and vibrant.
Thanks. Yeah, so, a lot of my color inspiration is actually from nature—going to different state and national parks, and I have a bunch of iPhone and camera photos of sunsets and certain flowers, and I feel like there are a lot of beautiful color combinations that exist in nature that I just try to either physically or mentally capture and then repurpose in my work somewhere down the line.
I love that.
I’ve seen 19 parks. My goal is to see all of them but then they keep adding them, which is a good thing, but not good for my goal.
Are you at the nerd level where you have the National Park Passport book?
Yeah, me too.
My husband got that for us a few years ago.
To get back to your color palette for a second, I love the notion that you’ve discussed before about how you invite people in with the palettes—they feel comfortable, and it enables them to have uncomfortable conversations once they’re in. I thought that was such a brilliant way to look at things.
Yeah, I was just having this conversation with my friend Danielle earlier about having conversations with people that don’t agree with you, and I feel like—and I fall prey to this too—especially in America, we see a lot of things in a very binary state, where it’s either good or bad, and we don’t see any nuance to anything. And I do this all the time, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m a Gemini or because I’m American, or because I’m both.
But I think that in order to connect with people, especially people that don’t necessarily have the same life as you—especially for my work, when it comes to empowering women—there are so many societal legislations that oppress women in so many different ways, and I feel I get across to more people when I’m able to make work that is inviting, that makes them feel comfortable enough to question how they’ve seen the world, and their worldview, up to that point.
That always seems to have worked better for me, especially in my artwork when I’m not there to have a conversation with somebody, to be able to put them at ease and say, “It’s OK to change your mind, and it’s OK to evolve beyond the person you were yesterday.”
I feel like that would be the ultimate goal for all of us, and sometimes that’s really, really hard because if we abandon our previous thoughts, then we also abandon the people that we associate those thoughts with, so I try to make it as inviting as possible to hopefully change peoples’ minds for the better.
What do you feel resonates with people most about your work?
It’s the biggest compliment to me, so I’m going to say that it resonates the most [laughs], but people see themselves in my work. Whenever I get messages [that say] “this piece reminds me of myself,” that, I think, is the best thing, because having not been able to see that many representations of myself out in the world—and I’m a straight white woman—I think that there are so many other people that also don’t see themselves. And whether it’s the media, or it’s fine art, or it’s other visual aspects of life, to be able to make artwork that even just a few people can resonate with and relate to is really an awesome feeling.
You’ve said that there’s really no correct way to live a freelance life, but what’s your best advice for budding or new illustrators today?
I would say read as many stories of different illustrators and their paths as possible. We all have emails. Definitely reach out via email, and ask questions and see how different people have led their lives as freelancers, and cherry pick what you feel like will work for you and your current situation. I think that’s the best way to go about it, because there really isn’t a right way. There are illustrators that have clients come to them from the get, and that wasn’t me.
Your collaboration with Tombolo was featured in Vanity Fair in 2019. When did you start to work with fashion brands, and is it something that you envisioned ever doing?
I probably started around that time, maybe a little earlier when I started freelancing. I love fashion. I mean, I’m not very good at the dressing aspect of it, but that’s fine. But I love looking at fashion. Fashion designers, I can never wrap my head around it, just because they’re making a piece of artwork that moves on a living being.
I could never do that [laughs]. So I’ve always had this admiration for designers, and to be able to make artwork that lives on fabric, that then is either created into something, whether it’s something as simple as being printed on an upcycled T-shirt or something [like] Tombolo, where it was a full-on pattern that was then cut and sewn … it’s really cool to see my artwork live in that way.
When I started sharing my work, and selling prints and drawings and paintings, a lot of people loved my work, which is flattering, but then they were like, “I can’t afford a print,” or “I can’t afford an original.” So I wanted to start making collaborations where my artwork lived on a product that can be also useful to somebody. So whether it’s a T-shirt or a candle or a pair of sneakers, that way they can have that double payoff of buying something that they need that they were looking to buy already, and then also have my artwork on it.
You’ve worked with so many brands, from Love Wellness to Warby Parker to Adidas to Happy Socks. How do you select the projects or brands that you partner with?
So, most of them, I’ll reach out to them. And so Love Wellness is a good example where I did that [and] we did a few social media illustrations, and then they had their product launch come out where I did illustrations for them, and they were like, “we think your artwork would be a good fit for this project—are you interested?”
But usually for the brands that do reach out to me, I want to make sure that the work that I’m making feels authentic to me. Sometimes people will reach out with projects where they say, “I love your work—can you illustrate this short that will then be animated for a directional video? I’m like, “thank you, that’s very kind, but I don’t know if my work is actually a fit for that. So I feel like it is definitely an instinctual thing … am I forcing myself to make something that I don’t feel comfortable making? And if that’s the case, then if I have the ability to pass on that project, I will. But that does come with a lot of privilege. I feel like you have to be financially stable to say no to a project.
So it’s definitely a balance of that. It’s definitely not a binary, yes or no. It just depends on the project and on the time period.
In one interview I came across, you said that you block off 30 minutes to an hour every other day to focus on Instagram. What are your thoughts on Instagram overall?
I definitely do that less, and it’s tough because with social media I feel like it gave me the ability to kind of circumvent the gate-keepers that were illustration agents, and find my own work and network myself. But now, Instagram is probably the most prevalent platform. It kind of has created its own gate-keeping in a sense.
When I do a cold outreach to brands, I don’t even put my social media handles in there. I want you to hire me for my work, not for the following I’ve been able to amass. Because that could go away tomorrow, and that’s not really why I want to work with you. So it’s tough because I feel like with, now, social media, people with bigger followings inadvertently become these gate-keepers. So I’m excited and curious as to what will eventually circumvent that. It’s a mixed feeling where it’s like these platforms gave me the ability to be able to freelance without needing to rely on old-world illustration rules, but now it’s starting to create its own set of rules that I think need to be disrupted.
Yeah, totally. And speaking of social, tell us about your Facebook residency, and the work that you did for it.
Yeah, so that was right before the pandemic. I think my last week was two weeks before everything shut down, which in hindsight, I’m like, how the hell did I not get sick? …
That was something that was interesting, too, because I definitely am vocal about a lot of the issues that Facebook has being tethered to Instagram, and all those rules that need to be disrupted.
But the program there, I thought it was really lovely that Facebook just lets artists make what they want. And they pay them and give them an entire studio space for, I think it’s six weeks, and the brief is very loose—“make something that’s about empathy” was my brief, and so I wanted to make portraits of women and hang them around the office to create the empathy for Facebook employees to have with their co-workers and with their peers, and just letting people be their full selves at work. I think it’s important to generate new and innovative ideas, and the only limitation was to make all the pieces on a risograph printer, which I, even though I’d done screenprinting in school, I had never played with a risograph printer.
So that was really lovely. I fell in love with that. And then when the pandemic happened and I had no access to any risograph studio, that’s what led me into being a little bit more confident with painting and doing my painted figures, because I’ve had a few painted figures that I’ve kept to myself over the years, and I just didn’t feel confident about them. But after that residency I felt like it unlocked something for me, and that led to the rest of the work that I’ve made throughout the year.
Yeah, the painted figures have been so good. It’s so cool to see the way that everything in your portfolio has evolved.
Thanks. I’m glad other people see it, because I see it clearly, but I’m the one making it [laughs]. So I’m like, hopefully other people could see how this has evolved, because it’s kind of hard to explain.
It’s kind of like one thing compounds on another, and you take subconscious decisions and you make them conscious. That’s kind of how my work has evolved, if I were to summarize it in a sentence.
Totally. Who do you admire and draw inspiration from in the creative space?
I would say a lot of people. Whenever I try to pull inspiration for my artwork, I try to do that not in the visual art space, because I want to be cognizant that I’m not subconsciously encroaching on somebody else’s turf, if you will. But I would say someone that inspires me on a daily basis is Danielle Evans. She does 3D and food lettering, and she also writes these incredible articles. She just wrote one about NFTs, and I’m like, chef’s kiss.
Yeah, her articles are great.
She’s just an incredible writer, incredible artist. I wish I could be that good at both those things. But she’s definitely a big inspiration to me.
What’s a project you’d love a chance to tackle or a brand you’d love to work with?
There are so many. Judy Chicago did a Lady Dior bag recently, and it’s awesome. It doesn’t have to be an immediate collaboration; I could be 90 when it happens, but it would be cool to have my artwork as a Lady Dior bag. I don’t know why. I think those bags are really pretty. That’s why [laughs]. It’d be cool to see my artwork on it. If I keep putting it out in the universe, hopefully it’ll happen in the next five decades.
What are you working on next?
So I have a few projects coming out, especially for Women’s History Month. I have a cool T-shirt collaboration where the brand is printing the artwork on upcycled shirts. So these are overstock shirts that they have that we made artwork about for Women’s History Month.
The Collective Arts cans are really cool. …
Just to be able to see my work on different items that are more accessible than art prints is always nice, and to see people have them in their homes is really cool. So I’ve got a few of those.
And then just painting for myself. I guess the biggest project—which is not art related—that I’m very proud of myself for was getting my parents vaccine appointments. … It was four hours of refreshing that freaking website. … So that’s my biggest project—day-to-day refreshing. I’m like, man, I should get in on sneaker drops or something. I’m pretty good at this [laughs].
How has the pandemic impacted your creativity overall?
I guess the tiny, tiny, tiny silver lining that is the pandemic is to be able to be home, and not moving around as much or traveling. It kind of gave me the time and space to start painting and to slow down my process. I always felt like I had to just take on as many projects as possible. That still definitely lurks in the back of my mind, but being able to be in one place allowed me to take a deep breath and think, all right, well you’ve got a lot of time now. Especially in the beginning when all of my projects got canceled.
I was like, you’ve got some time, so I guess make some art, and hopefully some of it sells, and kind of experiment. So that’s been the nice thing, being able to slow down a bit and experiment with some things that I just didn’t feel comfortable with either experimenting with or sharing in the past. I think this year has been like, eh, fuck it.
If you like it, share it. If other people like it, great; if they don’t, it’s fine.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and condensed.