Meet Amanda Michele
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your craft.
I’m an abstract artist and I work mostly in watercolor and pen on paper. I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband Matt and dog/studio assistant Molly. My art is often colorful and intricate. When I’m not painting, you can probably find me working my day job as a graphic designer at Pencils of Promise, out for a run in Prospect Park or waiting forever for the F train.
What was your AHA moment?
I’ve always loved making art. I remember sweet talking my preschool teachers out of nap time so I could illustrate the stories I would make them write for me (I was a bossy child), but I never really thought of artmaking as a career path until college.
I made the choice to major in Biology, because for it was subject I liked and it felt “practical” enough for me to get a job with someday. Three semesters in my botany professor assigned us a project to showcase what we learned over they class and it could be anything EXCEPT an essay.
I created a painting of a plant cell in various stages of mitosis and after grading it my teacher offered to buy it from me. Only then did I realize that maybe this art thing had potential and I switch my major the next day.
Where do you draw energy and inspiration for your work?
I'm fascinated with duality and the balance in between. I like to pair order and chaos which means I'm frequently inspired by nature (See! Those biology classes weren't a waste after all) but also by everyday moments and invoking the mix of feelings within that moment visually. I try to make work that is a reflection of life, a combination of structure and flow.
What’s one of your favorite moments of the creative process?
I think a lot about the decisions we make during the creative process. I find it amazing how we start out with infinite possibilities but with a brush stroke here or a line there we open one door and closes millions of others. We continue on and on closing more doors and discovering new ones until we have a finished work of art. I love that path of discovery and the energy of possibly at the start of a new piece but it's also terrifying.
As small business owners, I think it’s safe to say we learn as we go! What’s something you’ve learned from operating your business that you wish you could have told yourself when you started?
The biggest thing I've learned through this creative adventure is something I don't think you can just tell to someone, they either find it or they don't. It's self discipline. Being on your own as an artist you have to make your own structure, your own deadlines and your own direction. You have to do the things that aren't always fun (along with those things that are, obviously). At the start, it was almost like I was waiting for things to happen for me but now I'm always actively working to make my own opportunities. Being your own boss means bossing yourself around sometimes.
What roadblocks have you hit and overcome as a small business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is getting over imposter syndrome. I'm not able to work as an artist full-time at this moment so it's difficult to feel legitimate when you have to support yourself with another job. For a while that feeling of being a fake wannabe artist kept me from putting anything out there and it kept me from making work that was my own. It was only from talking to a lot of people, other young creatives and people who've "made it" to realize we all feel like fakes and we all start small and the path from here to success is one that you blaze for yourself.
What are your go-to podcasts, books or blogs?
Every year I re-read Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland. It's a great (and very short) book about the artistic process and it talks through a lot of the universal struggles we all face as creatives. Each time I read it, a different part hits me and I always finish it with a better understanding of my own work.
I also love podcasts and I highly recommend Creative Pep Talk by illustrator Andy J. Pizza. Andy has the most insightful monologues about creativity, motivation, growth and art marketing that he delivers with endearing enthusiasm and many ridiculous metaphors.
What is your favorite thing about the handmade community?
Just the fact that it’s a community in the truest sense of the word. I love the support I feel from other creatives. I suppose it's out there but I've never felt like I'm competing against other artists or makers, I just feel a sense of us all being on the same road together. To me, there's comfort in that.
What do you have planned for your business in the months to come? Any new projects, collabs, collections you can hint at?
Oh I have some big plans but I'm not really ready to reveal them yet. But a little hint, 2017 has been a year of experimentation so next I going to really dive in and expand my work and process.
Tell us about a small victory! The little things are so worthy of celebration! (Anything that made you do your happy dance.)
I dunno if this is a small victory because it always feels so huge to me but recently I've been contacted by a bunch of young artists on Instagram showing me their artwork that was inspired by my own. Every time, I am blown away! Sometimes I have a hard time believing anyone really likes my art, let alone like it enough to emulate it. I love seeing everyone own creative spin on my style and how they make it their own. I happy dance when I get them, for sure!