NYC artist Amber Vittoria left advertising to pursue her own illustrations.
Now, she creates graceful images of the female form in bright colors to express the experiences of those who inspire her.
You talk a lot about representing femininity in your artwork. How did you begin the journey of discovering that message?
About almost a year ago, I worked at an ad agency and the hours were extremely long, so it was really difficult for me to make any type of artwork. The artwork that I was making, I felt like fell into this pit of making artwork so other people can enjoy it and it was less about work that I was inspired by, and more about being inspired by other people’s reactions. I think that’s in part self-confidence and also in part working at a social media agency where you have an ROI of likes and comments and shares. So when I left, I sat down and thought, what inspires me? For me, other women inspire me—my female artist friends, family members, people that I find online. So that really began to seep into my artwork.
“When I left, I sat down and thought, what inspires me? For me, other women inspire me–my female artist friends, family members, people that I find online. So that really began to seep into my artwork.”
And then from there, it kind of expanded, especially in the political climate that we have surrounding women and reproductive rights.
I would make art at like 2 in the morning and be like, yeah I’m gonna do my side thing and this is my escape. And then everything I made, I felt at a certain point wasn’t really who I was just because I was so exhausted. That was kind of the turning point for me.
These kind of topics can be really sensitive—whenever I’m working on something that really connects with someone’s life, I find that I change the way I express my ideas a lot as I learn about other people. So I was wondering, in your process of finding your style, if you’ve changed anything you’ve created? Or changed your voice?
When I first started a lot of my work was about women and nature, because those were two huge things that inspired me, not necessarily together, but in my artwork I would join them because I thought it was very interesting. Over time, I’ve felt my voice has gotten stronger. I’ve felt a bit more confident in speaking about different topics that women can relate to.
“Over time, I’ve felt my voice has gotten stronger, I’ve felt a bit more confident in speaking about different topics that women can relate to.”
Even something as light as this piece called “All New Very Sexy Bra” that I did—I used to be a web designer at Victoria Secret. So something as a simple as women trying on bras that actually never fit because everyone has a different size. Topics like that, to heavier topics like reproductive rights, I feel more confident as I make each piece to share that part of me and that opinion.
I don’t know if I’ve ever gone back and changed a piece I’ve made in the past to reflect my voice now. There’s a lot of pieces that I don’t put out that I don’t feel are strong enough, and then learn from them. Then those learnings kind of go into the next piece that I make.
Are there new places you want to take your ideas?
Yeah, right now I’m actually at my boyfriend’s apartment, but both his apartment and mine are very small, so there’s really not a lot of room to work large. In college, I went to BU College of Fine Arts, they had a huge printmaking studio, huge painting studio, sculpture studio… Just having that space to make larger form artwork is incredible. I’m hoping, I don’t know if it’d be this year, or maybe next year ideally, to either find a studio, or find a screen printing place that I could go to so I can make larger scale work. I think that would be really interesting, to see what that translates to.
I think a lot about intersectionality especially in representing the female form. Do you feel like that is a part of your artwork?
Yeah, I love this question because at the end of every month or every few weeks, I like to revisit the work that I made over that time period and see what I can do more of and what I can do less of. For example when I first started putting my work out there about a year ago, I did a lot of work with plants and succulents. So I was like, okay, you did a lot of that, you learned how to do that, let’s try to go out of your comfort zone and do something else.
Or every so often I’ll fall into a color palette that I feel comfortable with and I’ll explore that for a few weeks. And actually over the past few weeks I took a look at my work and thought, I need to add more diversity. I think that’s something that’s important. I think I experimented with it in terms of form, but not of color, so I think that’s something that I definitely need to continue to push harder than I have been.
I need to add more diversity. I think that’s something that’s important. I think I experimented with it in terms of form, but not of color, so I think that’s something that I definitely need to continue to push harder than I have been.
My favorite color palettes, especially most recently, I’d say are two or three different shades of blue, a rose, a deep red, and an orange, that’s been my palette for awhile. So I’m like, okay it’s time to abandon that and do something else.
I love the colors you use so much. I was thinking when I wrote these questions, should I ask her what her favorite color is?
It changes. My favorite color right now I’d say is a rose color, because it goes well with all the other colors that I like. I say every few months that answer changes.
Do you have a process for how you choose colors?
What I do is make brush strokes of colors that I’m interested in using. Sometimes I’ll pull colors from other paintings and put them in there, sometimes I’ll just pull them out of thin air and see how they work together. From there, I start making, so I’ll start making all the lines and everything. It’s really just experimenting. Many times in a lot of my work, I’ll start with a set of colors that I think will look good together because in that small palette they do, but then as I’m working, an hour or two in, I’m like no, this definitely doesn’t work, this needs to be more red, or this blue needs to be less saturated. So I just kind of play with the color until I get a harmony that feels right.
You reached out to us after our story with India K; I love seeing such supportive relationships between creative women. What do you look for when building connections and friendships with other artists?
I love a lot interviews that I’ve done recently when they’ve asked about people that I’m inspired by. I always put India because her work is so awesome, but also I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of my artist friends at Vayner Media, videographers, photographers, what have you.
“As tiring as working at an agency was, it introduced me to a really wide array of people who are incredibly creative. I always try to find as many artists as possible who inspire me.”
As tiring as working at an agency was, it introduced me to a really wide array of people who are incredibly creative. I always try to find as many artists as possible who inspire me.
You mention in your Society6 interview that you get a lot of clients by reaching out via cold email; I know that that can be a kind of intimidating thing to do. Do you have any advice for young women and creatives who are learning to market themselves?
For me I love to just guess people’s emails. I’ll go on LinkedIn and I’ll find a brand like Alexander Wang. I went and looked for their social media manager because sometimes they can determine what goes up on their Instagram. I just spent like an hour going through all their social media managers just guessing their emails. It’s a pretty easy cadence to guess, especially if you’ve worked at an agency or company—it would be your firstname.last name, first initial.lastname @ whatever the url is. That strategy has been really helpful.
From there, I try to keep the email as personal as possible, obviously you always have to have that section where you say “this is my work, this is where I’ve been featured, this is what I’m about” but never been afraid to cold email because worst case scenario is that they don’t respond or they respond with “we really like your work, but it’s not a fit.” The best case scenario is that they give you some work!