Amber Vittoria Is Wearing Her Big Girl Pants
Artist, Poet, and Author Amber Vittoria goes deep on making it as a digital artist, mental health, female representation in web3, money, ambition, body image, and her favorite tools of the trade.
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Hi Everyone -
Let’s be real: the NFT world can often feel like a major dude fest.
One of the most in-your-face ways this manifests is with language. Anyone who has spent time in an NFT Discord or Telegram chat knows that a lot of the language that people mindlessly throw around makes it sound like they wandered into a bar, only to find all their bros hanging out (“Alright fellas, what are we all minting tonight!?”)
Because this language is so blatant, it has become a talking point for outsiders who don’t spend much time in the space (“NFTs are just for single dudes trading monkeys in their parent’s basements.”)
But my experience is that this space is much more diverse than the critics give it credit for. You just have to follow the right people.
I can personally attest that my Twitter feed and DMs and my Discord chats are way more diverse than my typical IRL social gathering. Yes, there are a lot of young-ish dudes, but there are also many women, teenagers, older parents, people of color, people from countries all over the globe, extremely wealthy people, paycheck-to-paycheck people, hounds (OK, just one hound), etc.
Nonetheless, the critics are not totally wrong either. These bro vibes DO exist and they definitely serve to make some people feel like this space isn’t for them.
And I think that’s a damn shame.
The last thing I want is for an amazing artist who is “NFT-curious” to dip their toes in the water, only to feel unwelcome. No! I want the tokenized art scene to be a place where anyone can show up, make friends, and thrive.
That is one reason why I am personally committed to highlighting a wide variety of artists in my interviews.
Amber Vittoria (@amber_vittoria on Twitter) stands out in the NFT world not only for being a successful female artist, but also for representing a unique artistic style that is less flashy, less common, and yes, less typically “masculine” than a lot of the work that we’re used to seeing in the space.
Amber’s work, in her own words, “aims to represent the nuances of womanhood.”
Amber recently joined me from an Airbnb in Los Angeles where she was posted up for a few days while moving to LA from New York.
During our time together, we talked about all sorts of things, including:
The best and worst advice she has received as an artist in web3
Her favorite papers, paint, and pen
How she runs her business and her finances
The story of acquiring her first NFT (a Cryptopunk!)
Her favorite National Park
Artists on her grail acquisition list
…and so much more
One thing I took away from my conversation with Amber is that she has created a unique blueprint for how to “make it” in web3, which I think aspiring artists might find helpful.
Amber wasn’t always making and selling art for a living. She has spent most of her career doing design work, client work, and commercial art. Throughout this time, she maintained her own art practice and built up a following on Instagram and Twitter.
Then, when NFTs came along, she fully embraced her unique “off-chain” style and adapted it for her digital work. Through it all, Amber honed her core style, which is unique and recognizable.
There is a lot to glean from this conversation, so take your time, and enjoy!
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A conversation with Amber Vittoria
You just moved to LA from New York! How come?
We’ve been coming to LA every winter for the last few years. We'd rent out our apartment in New York for the month and then we'd Airbnb out here. Then over the last few years, a lot of our friends moved from New York to Los Angeles. And we're like, what are we doing? We grew up on the East Coast, and we've been New Yorkers our whole life. So we decided to try something new.
You recently wrote “Life is rare. Make what exists within it abundant.” I love this sentiment. And your work often does feel abundant - the colors, the poetry, the shapes. When do you feel most abundant?
I would say when I'm out in nature.
One goal of mine is to see all the US National Parks. That’s when I am fully disconnected from the internet and fully connected with the world around me. That’s usually when I feel most abundant and that abundance inspires my work.
How are you doing towards your National Park goal?
I've seen about 30 parks so far. [My husband] Dave has more. But we don't count his visits from when he was a kid. I think there are currently 64 parks total, so almost halfway.
What park is at the top of your list?
I would say Petrified Forest National Park.
It is not a forest. It used to be a forest and then all the trees that fell were petrified underwater and then have since come back to the surface.
They have these really beautiful and intricate shapes and they're crystallized into these beautiful rock formations now, so it is very otherworldly.
What does a day in the life of Amber look like right now?
Well, right now it looks like moving and building furniture [laughs].
But normally, and when I get back into my routine, it usually looks like getting up in the morning, and then I try to do some sort of cardio exercise - either exercise videos or going for long walks.
I used to run when I was younger. But as I've gotten older, my body has told me to stop doing that. So I'll usually go for a walk or do some form of cardio.
Then I eat breakfast, I'll check social, though I am trying to check social a bit less. Then I'll get into any client work that I have, as well as emails. And then I'll paint.
After work and art, I try to end the day with some reading. I just got a Kindle for Christmas, which is exciting. So I'm trying to incorporate that into my day-to-day.
What's for breakfast these days?
Oatmeal. I'm allergic to a lot of stuff. A lot of breakfast things are unfortunately eliminated from my morning routine, so I usually stick to oatmeal.
Can you talk about any specific influences or artists who have inspired your work?
I'd say a big one - and this is more overt looking at my earlier work than it is now - but a big one is George Condo. I love the way that he applies paint to canvas and the way that he creates a lot of emotion from the characters that he depicts.
Can you talk a little bit about the moment or the period when you learned about NFTs and then how you decided to actually make the transition into producing them?
I started investing a little bit in crypto in 2017, which is right around the time when I went freelance full-time. I didn't know the term NFT at that time, but I learned about CryptoKitties in 2018 or 2019, maybe. They were looking for freelance artists to draw the cats. I remember thinking, I could draw a cat, but that's not my style, but that will be interesting when artists can sell their own artwork on the blockchain like CryptoKitties.
Then the pandemic happened. In early 2021, a few of my husband's friends were talking about CryptoPunks, and they all got one or a few. That's really when I learned about NFTs.
My husband suggested that we buy one. I said, these are awesome, let’s buy a bunch of them! He told me that we could maybe afford one of them. I asked “What? How expensive are they?” and he told me they were each the price of a car. I was like, “Excuse me?”
That was kind of my crash course in NFTs. Then from there, I started learning about artists selling their own work. I know that Larva Labs is more of a company, but seeing individual artists sell their work on the blockchain, was really intriguing.
Pretty soon thereafter I learned how to mint my artwork and put my artwork on the blockchain forever.
Do you and your husband still have the CryptoPunk?
Yes, we thought about selling it in August of 2021. CryptoPunks were flying and we had it listed for what we thought was a really high price point. Then I checked on the website and it was the second from the floor. I was like, “We have a CryptoPunk emergency, we have to delist it!”
But in hindsight, if we sold it, we probably would have just gotten another one. But we liked that one. It took us a long time to choose it. So I'm glad that we still have that same one.
What kind of punk do you have?
She's got a mohawk and earrings and red lips and sunglasses. We liked it because she is kind of androgynous. So he used it for a while. And then I used it for a while.
What early artists beyond Larva Labs did you notice and pay attention to?
One of the first ones was Fewocious because my parents read an article and they told me that this kid had sold their artwork as NFTs.
I'd also say Drifter Shoots because the New York Times did an article on him before NFTs about his photography and how he's incarcerated for it. So even though that wasn't connected to NFTs in my mind at the time, I just remember reading that article and being like, I want to buy a print from this guy - like his work is beautiful, but I couldn't find anything to buy at that point. Then to see him have so much success over the last few years after the fact has been really cool.
Outside of our little bubbles, NFTs are weirdly controversial. Since you made the transition into publishing your art on-chain, how have your IRL friends or family or followers on Instagram reacted to you getting into this space?
In the beginning, Instagram was tougher. A lot of people were reading the story that some designer had published about the energy usage that NFTs had. A lot of people read that and didn't do research beyond that. I got a lot of pushback from it, which was scary because Instagram is a huge part of finding clients and getting freelance work, especially before NFTs. I was like, “Oh God, am I making a mistake?”
In terms of friends and family, a lot of our friends are interested in NFTs. My parents were very supportive. I can talk to them about NFTs like they're experts. My dad and I did a collaboration last year, which was fun.
But with Instagram, especially as Instagram has introduced digital collectibles, and people learn that the energy usage is now similar or less than watching something on YouTube, I think a lot of people have started to come around to realizing that the more that we have online lives, it just makes sense that we're gonna have things that we own digitally. It takes time, but I think people will definitely get there. Everything is slow. People are naturally cautious, which I understand.
One of the primary themes in your work is exploring and dismantling stereotypes that are thrust upon women. Right now, in 2023, what are the female stereotypes that you find yourself contemplating most often?
I would say the biggest one is grappling with emotion, and how women share emotion. For example, I think sometimes we can share vulnerability and it’s perceived as weakness. On the flip side, when we stand up for ourselves, sometimes it’s viewed as pushy or angry.
I think about how women are viewed and how our emotions are viewed, especially when we share them publicly. That's something that I've been talking a lot about in my work, and trying to normalize the fact that we're all human, we all experience emotion, and our gender shouldn't be an area of judgment for how we behave as people.
I felt a lot of that in your poetry in your book, like: I feel these things, and that's because I'm a human. That’s what humans do.
Exactly, exactly. Hopefully, that resonates with people.
A couple of days ago, you tweeted that this space hasn't been the most welcoming to women, and I'm quoting now, “which is why over the last two years, I've been doing my best to create a safe space, not only for myself, but for other female artists, it's definitely taken a massive toll on my mental health, I'm going to step back for a bit.”
It's kind of a loaded tweet. So I'll start at the beginning there. I would love to hear more about your experience being a woman in web3, and why you feel that this space hasn't been the most welcoming for women?
Web3 is an extension of everything we've built historically as human beings before. So inherently it's built off of and within a system that doesn't have full equity, not only amongst gender but also amongst race and ability and things like that.
We are living in a world where historically men, specifically white men, and able-bodied men, have had an advantage, and other genders and races have had to “play catch up.”
Now we have to all work through that and build an equitable world together.
But in my experience, and the experiences of other women in the web3 space, people love to explain to women why we're doing things wrong. I get a lot of DMs about how I should be doing things versus how I am doing things. That can happen to anyone in this space. But I do feel like that happens more often to women.
Then, zooming out, if you look at art that gets collected, usually works that are assigned higher value tend to be by men. That's not unique to web3, I would say that happens in the art world at large.
Beyond people being more considerate with their language or thinking twice before offering unsolicited advice, are there other ways that you think this space could feel more welcoming to female artists, and really, for any artists who might share your experience?
Yes, the larger news outlets that report on NFTs on a regular basis tend to report on the same handful of artists and projects, most of which are either male-run, or the artists themselves are male.
The first thing is elevating diverse artists and allowing people to be able to see themselves within our industry. Walking into this industry, there are very few women that are written about within the world of NFTs and web3.
As a new artist coming into the space, one of the reasons why I was hesitant to even start selling my work to begin with as NFTs was because the majority of the artists that I would read about and a majority of the projects I'd read about were all male-driven.
World of Women was one of the first ones, and I felt I could relate to Yam [Karkai, the artist behind the World of Women PFP collection]. Even though I'm never going to do a PFP project, that gave me a little bit more confidence.
I think that’s the first baseline: to really amplify the work of women that are in this space. So that way, when new people do come in, they see that a part of themselves already exists within the ecosystem.
Talk to me about your mental health. How are you? How are you doing today?
I mean, today is good. But I have generalized anxiety disorder. And that's something I've been working through a lot. Therapy has been very helpful for that. I think it spiked when I learned about a lot of my allergies. I've had a few run-ins with death with anaphylaxis a few times - so a lot of my anxiety stems from that.
I am just trying to work on boundaries and trusting myself over the thoughts that other people share with me – both good and bad. You can't really hold your value in the hands of others, which is something I struggle with.
And then on social media, I take to heart what people say, because I feel like people have taken the time to write things to me, even if they're not the nicest things. And that's something that I need to work on.
I used to work at VaynerMedia, and Gary likes to repeat that quote about how “when you're a player in the arena, people are gonna boo you. Do you want to be someone in the audience? Or do you want to be a player in the arena?”
So that kind of helps me. But at the same time, sometimes I think it’d be kind of nice to just watch the basketball game, instead of being in it.
But every day is a new day, and I am just trying to work on boundaries and trusting myself over the thoughts that other people share with me – both good and bad. You can't really hold your value in the hands of others, which is something I struggle with.
Thanks for sharing that. Being in the arena definitely takes practice. In the last part of your tweet, you said you're going to step back for a bit. What does that mean?
I took Twitter off my phone. I can't ditch Twitter altogether, but I've committed to scheduling more tweets in advance and checking it less to respond to things. I have DMs turned off for people that I don't follow. So for now, I am just trying to keep it on my desktop and then check it in the evenings. I've been doing that for a few days and it's already helped give me back time, and then also a bit more perspective, which is something that I think I needed.
Recently, in reaction to the speculators who are buying and flipping your 7-minute open edition, you launched what you called “an actual open edition” that is available to mint forever. You called it “Anti-fomo. Anti-hype. Anti-speculative.” Tell me more about how this idea came to you, and I’d love to hear anything you can share about the piece itself.
Since the dawn of the printing press, editioning has allowed artists to have some aspects of their work be more accessible to those that love their work and want to collect it but can't collect an original.
Seeing editioning starting to happen on the blockchain is exciting.
I remember, in late 2021, I asked folks in my Discord if they were ready for editions. They said no, we want one-of-ones. Then over the last year, folks have really come around to collecting works that were editioned.
I do think the pressure of selling out an edition as an artist is definitely real. So when I learned about Manifold and the idea of a timed edition. Whatever sells, sells, and you don't have to have the pressure of having them all sell or sell quickly, and you don't have to deal with that narrative or people questioning you as to why it didn't sell out. That feels fantastic.
But… what I didn't realize is that people would speculate on those timed editions. Limited editions are limited by number, whereas the timed edition is a little bit more open-ended, and going into it you don’t know how big it will be.
I don't recommend people taking short-term bets on artwork in general. But if one were to, I would bet on one that's limited in quantity, and you know the total number versus one that's limited by time. But it turned out that that was not the case. So we've seen a lot of people try to speculate and flip these timed editions. And then folks that didn't successfully flip would grow upset and then start critiquing the idea of a timed edition and the artists.
The thing that was frustrating for me, and this is me being a curmudgeon, is that people call it an “open edition.” I was like, that's not an open edition – it’s just limited by time rather than number. So with this piece, I wanted to make an edition that was truly open. One that was an unlimited edition - just to show the difference.
This piece in particular touches on the idea that time is finite. It’s an allusion to the reality that eventually we'll pass on and what we have right now is all we'll have and we should celebrate that abundance.
I like that idea of having something that exists beyond me - unless Manifold dies before I do, but I don't think that'll be the case. So, I really like that parallel of having something live infinitely even though everything is finite.
How has expanding your practice onto the blockchain improved your financial life?
I was very fortunate to have had a successful commercial art career before NFTs, but NFTs have allowed me to lay off my client work a little bit more. They have made it possible for me to pivot more towards focusing on fine arts as a practice versus commercial art.
I still do commercial art and client work, but it's been nice to have that shift. It's been really nice to have more time and feel like I don't constantly have to go from project to project. Now I have space to breathe and explore different ideas and make work that is thematically driven.
In a past interview I read, I appreciated how you said that you like to be specific and transparent about your career, for the benefit of others.
With that in mind, I’d love to dig into the business side of your practice - how do you track your earnings and expenses? How do you manage your taxes? Do you hire any professionals to help you with all of this? Any level of detail or insight you can offer I think would be super illuminating.
Yes! So for taxes, my dad is my accountant. Up until last year he helped me with everything. It was a little more straightforward before NFTs because it was basically just a bunch of 1099s. Now with my move from New York to California and transitioning all of that over, I hired a friend of his that does accounting for both New York and California so he knows the details of both.
For my business, I started off as a sole proprietor in 2019. I let myself freelance as an independent contractor to make sure I enjoyed it before going all in. I didn't want to go through the process of applying to become a business until I knew I really wanted to do it.
Eventually, I established an LLC, and then with my move to California, I am transitioning to an S-Corp. I did both of those myself, but you can hire somebody. But if you pick up the phone and you don’t mind being on hold, they can help you register. For payroll, I use Gusto to pay myself, which is kind of a weird thing, but now if I ever wanted to hire freelancers down the road, at least that hard part is now over.
So we're getting in the weeds a little bit, which is great. But for people who might not be as familiar with this stuff, at a high level the reason one would choose an S-Corp election is to save money on their taxes. There are additional costs (such as having to run and manage payroll), but for certain-sized businesses, the additional expense is outweighed by the tax savings.
Yes, a big reason [for my S-Corp election] was to save on taxes. But also, long term, if I do want to hire somebody to help me, that will be a lot easier to manage since I already have payroll set up and I am doing bookkeeping.
In terms of how I keep track of my income, that hasn't changed. I use QuickBooks because that's what my new accountant likes to use. But I also keep a personal spreadsheet where I have all of my clients listed on there, when I invoice them, and when an invoice is paid.
Then, with NFTs, every time I make a sale, I convert my ETH through Coinbase to USD, and I mark that as income in my spreadsheet.
I used to update my spreadsheet monthly. And then I realized the stress of doing it monthly was a lot. So now I have quarterly tabs now on my spreadsheet. And then I do the same thing with expenses.
There are a few apps I've used in the past like Expensify. But right now I have QuickBooks and one credit card for all my business expenses.
That's how I keep organized. I'm assuming if you're a bigger operation, then it'll probably be a little more complex than that. But I just try to keep on top of myself as much as possible and I try to stay organized.
And do you pay estimated quarterly taxes?
Was QuickBooks hard for you to learn?
I've been using it for almost two years now. In the beginning, I was very fortunate to have my dad set things up, like the different expense categories so that every time I had an expense, I could just categorize it.
Now when I update my spreadsheet, I can easily categorize all my expenses and make sure that it lines up with my spreadsheet.
That way when it comes to tax season, I can just send it to my accountant and be like, “we're good, right?”
And when you earn income from NFTs, you said you convert that all to cash. Do you keep any in ETH?
No. If I want to buy back ETH, which I've done before, then I'll do that. That way it’s easier to keep track of things.
I know of artists and project founders that keep some as ETH. But for my sanity, it's just easier for me to just have it converted to USD because I know in the future I am not going to remember the details. Some people disagree with me on that. And I'm like, that's fine. Let me let live in my simple bubble.
Well, you sound remarkably organized.
Yeah, it's definitely been trial and error over the last several years of being a freelancer.
I think trial and error is one of the biggest takeaways. When I started, I didn’t know any of this stuff. But you learn as you go.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve heard for artists in the NFT space?
I would say bad advice would be taking all the advice that's given to you. I think that's something that I always struggled with. If somebody came along who I thought knew more than me or was an expert in the field, I would think that I have to listen to them, because they know how it's done.
But over time I’ve learned to take the approach of more like, “I understand and I appreciate that advice, but I don’t think it’s relevant to me right now” and just trusting my instincts more.
On the flip side, I would say the best advice I've gotten is to only seek advice from those that you care about.
The female body is a recurring theme across both your written and visual work. This shows up both as commentary on your own relationship to your body across various ages, and also the more general relationship between society and the female body. What is your relationship to your body these days?
I would say neutral, which is pretty good. I feel like when I was younger, like, early 20s, I would look at myself and nitpick everything, like, oh, this could be better, that could be better, look at this chunk of fat.
I also struggled because of my allergies, which altered a lot of the foods that I could and couldn't eat, which threw my weight into flux. And society, regardless of gender, loves to talk about weight. So that really took a toll.
But within the last few years, I'm like, as long as I get a walk-in and I drink enough water, I'm great. I'm good. Everything else is a plus.
On days when I am feeling a bit insecure about myself physically or emotionally, it helps to channel that into my artwork. That helps me get it out of my system. But maybe it's also just getting older - I think the older I get the less I store value or importance in my appearance. I think that's true. I'll let you know when I'm old-old.
You recently published your first book - These Are My Big Girl Pants: Poetry and Paintings on Womanhood. First of all, congratulations! What does the phrase “big girl pants” mean to you?
Every summer when I was a kid, I’d go to Old Navy because I outgrew the clothes that I had for school the year before. And my mom would always be like, “Oh, these are big girl pants.” And I was like, oh, yeah, I'm getting older. Now I'm going to kindergarten, now I'm going to first grade.
That was something that really stuck with me. Then as I grew older, I heard that phrase be used to mean you have to take on things that are a bit more challenging.
So I just like how that phrase has evolved for me over time. And that's why I wanted to make it the title of the book.
For your anxiety besides going outside and doing art, are there other practices you have?
Therapy – cognitive behavioral therapy – has been very helpful. As I mentioned, I have a lot of severe food allergies, and I get shots for them. It used to be three times a week. Now it's once a month.
And the idea of death in general is something I struggle with. And anaphylaxis is the closest I've come to dying. I've had it a few times, and it's not pleasant. So my fear of not being here forever drives a lot of my anxiety
And then there is how I deal with the opinions of others.
Anyway, I don't want this to be a therapy session. But those are some of the things that kind of spiral in my mind, and therapy has been a great place to work out my thoughts and use tactics to train my mind, in essence. I’ve learned that your brain is like a muscle and you can train it to not spiral in a negative direction. So I’ve learned how to focus on things that are more neutral or positive and not to focus on things that don't need my attention.
What advice would current Amber give to 22-year-old Amber who was heading out of college and into the real world?
I would tell myself that it'll all work out the way it's meant to and to not worry so much, which is probably the advice that me in 10 years would give my current day self.
I think It's just going to be the same advice until I die: worry less, enjoy more [laughs].
In one of your poems, titled “I just want to bloom” you write “instead of doing the most for once, I simply want to do the least.” What is your current relationship to status, ambition, and doing things?
I work really hard. But sometimes I just want to not have to do anything and for it all to work out.
But to bloom as a flower, even though it looks effortless, it takes a lot of effort.
So I always think about even things that look effortless usually require a lot of effort, as much as we would want for it to truly be effortless.
Inherent in this idea of “doing things” is the idea of why we do the things we do or why we feel compelled to do them. That gets into questions of both ambition and status. How do you think about your own ambition and your own need or desire for status or prestige? And how has that evolved over your career in life?
It’s funny because I was talking about this in therapy last week. My ambition has been something that has gotten me to where I am today, where I'm able to support myself by making artwork, which is not the easiest thing to do.
But then it's also something that doesn't really allow me to rest before I’m on to the next thing. So that's a benefit and a detriment, I think at the same time.
In terms of status, when I was younger, that was more important. I remember a few artists that came to visit where I went to college. They were all painters, for the most part. They all had a similar trajectory: their senior thesis was discovered by a gallery, and now they sell their work for millions of dollars, and they're in every museum.
When I was younger, my thinking was: “That needs to be my trajectory.” As I've gotten older, I've been able to relax into the idea that my trajectory is going to be whatever my instincts tell me.
Sometimes it's harder to go against that type of direct line to success and status and just try to find your own way. I try to ground myself and remind myself that if I’m connecting with people through the work that I’m making, that is the status that I want to seek. That has kept me grounded.
What goals and plans do you have for 2023? For your art, and for your life?
For my life: settling into Los Angeles and having a little more space. When I lived in New York, I worked from our kitchen – we essentially lived in one really big room with our bed upstairs. So to have a designated space to create is exciting.
I would love to start, maybe towards the end of the year, on another book.
In terms of my artwork, I’d like to continue to explore and push myself into new areas and make myself uncomfortable with the work that I make.
Usually, I find the work I resonate with most is the work that made me most uncomfortable while making it. For example, playing with scale. As much as I love making work that’s smaller, sometimes I'll make a bigger piece to kind of push myself in a direction that makes me uncomfortable. And then when I come back down to a smaller scale, I'm able to really flourish.
Let's quickly talk about some tools of the trade for you.
What's your favorite type of paper to paint on?
Strathmore has a mixed-media paper that I love. Also, Legion has a paper called Stonehenge that comes in a lot of really nice warm colors. I'll oscillate between those two depending on the piece that I'm making. I also started experimenting with canvas paper, which my open edition was painted on. And that's really nice. You can't tell from the scans because they scan it flat, but it gives a lot of nice relief to it. The paintings become sculptural.
What kind of paint do you use?
I love Liquitex, either soft body or acrylic wash for my purposes, depending on the type of painting I’m making. Obviously, they're different. So they'll have different uses. But between those two, it's all good because the colors are all the same. I really love Liquitex for that.
Do you have any preferred pens?
I use Micron pens.
For digital art, what software tools do you use?
Predominantly Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. All my friends, especially commercial artists, want to make me use Procreate. They ask, “What are you doing using your computer and your trackpad?” and I’m like, “Let me live my life.”
I'm very much an old woman curmudgeon, but I like that the trackpad allows for imperfection. I've tried Procreate and a pen. It's amazing. It's such an incredible app, especially for the $10 that you pay for it. But I would find myself trying to search for perfection in my line work. And that was a little troublesome. So I went back to my laptop and Photoshop or Illustrator.
Are there any other tools that you rely on and recommend?
Just social media stuff. I film parts of my process. There's an app called Splice that you can pay to use. I use the free version. There are a billion things out there that are like it, but that one is really easy for me to just put all those clips together, put the final artwork at the end, and then I do the voiceover in Instagram. So that's been really helpful.
Now I have a number of quick rapid-fire questions. If you had to articulate a mantra for 2023, what would it be?
Do you have any favorite personal works or works that you're most proud of that you've done?
Usually, it's the most recent work that I've made, because it's how I'm feeling currently.
What are 1 to 3 art pieces that are on your grail list to acquire if you get a chance? This could be a specific work, or just a specific artist or collection.
You know, there's a lot of pushback with AI art. A few years ago, a lot of artists were like, “AI art is not art, it's theft.” I wholeheartedly disagree. This is essentially how humans see things, interpret it, and then change it. So the fact that Claire is at the forefront of that is exciting. And her work really resonates with me.
There is a piece that Grant [Yun] did, I forget the name of it. But it looks almost exactly like the cul de sac that I grew up on. I really love that one. I love the aerial view of his work.
And then a third one, I would say Terrell Jones’ work has been really amazing. I really love Terrell’s work and how he has such beautiful characters. His color palettes are really beautiful too.
There are so many artists and pieces that usually by the time I make up my mind, I can't afford it.
What's the music that you're loving right now?
I’m crazy so I listen to the same things over and over again. It's actually like a branded project. But FKJ is one of my favorite artists. He has an album called Just Piano. It's 30 minutes long. And it's really beautiful. So I have been listening to that on repeat. It's really cool.
What are your favorite art museums that you've ever been to?
I love the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I went to school in Boston so I would go there when I was a student. It was really incredible. It was newer when I was in college, but they had a wing of American art that progressed over time. I don't know if it's changed,, I haven't been there in a while. But I really loved to see the progression of how humans have created artwork over time.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is great. I've only been there once. But at the time, Kerry James Marshall had his mastery exhibition, so I don't know if it's because of the museum or the exhibition.
Then of course The Met and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. If you're an artist that lives in New York City, you can get an Artist Membership. It's like 35 bucks, you just have to prove that you're an artist and you just show your website. If you want to get a membership, it's much more affordable as an artist for those museums.
Is ice cream on your restricted list, or can you eat ice cream?
I love ice cream. It should probably be on a question mark list because sometimes dairy upsets my stomach. But my real allergies are nuts, pitted fruits, apples, pears, celery, and carrots.
So what's your favorite ice cream flavor?
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