Artist interview: Amanda Sartor
Hi Amanda, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! First off can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have worked as a commercial artist for almost 20 years. I live in the Pacific Northwest where it is frequently gloomy. My current favorite color is grey. I play too many video games. I like cats AND dogs, but I only have cats because dogs need too much attention. I drink many cups of tea. My favorite subjects to draw are fairy tales and ghost stories. I frequently wish that I was more interesting.
I noticed that your more recent work has taken a slightly different direction to your earlier pieces? Can you tell me more about what inspired the new pieces?
My newer work focuses on my own ideas. For many years I tried to figure out how to make my work more applicable to specific markets, but what I find most satisfying is creating a body of work that is meaningful to myself and reflects my own symbology. I use the vernacular of folklore to describe neurological and sociological conditions, topics that I find interesting but difficult to address. It has taken a long time to develop my own visual language that could speak in analogy.
I love that your work has a ‘ghostly’ undertone, can you tell me more about the process behind your art and the materials you use?
I start out with a sketch in ink and graphite on polypropylene vellum. I like this combination of media because it is somewhat unpredictable, and it allows me to experiment indefinitely until I get an outcome I like. I need this step because I tend to be too controlling with media, and having that element of spontaneity comes through in the finished product. I then transfer that sketch to hot press watercolor paper with a high quality printer using archival inks. Then I mount the watercolor paper to prepared wood board or acid free foam core using archival PVA, or I stretch the paper. Once that is dry, I put a layer of translucent white gouache over the entire surface. This is where some of the “ghostly” qualities of my work comes from, because the gouache allows any water based media applied on top of it to be wiped away, leaving the underpainting visible in some areas. The other mediums I use are India Ink, Walnut Ink, colored pencil, and pastel.
What is your favourite part of the creative process?
There are two steps I really enjoy. I like free sketching, generating ideas without too much concern for what they look like. The other part I enjoy is the refining process on a painting, where all the major composition and value problems have been solved, and I’m just noodling it to death. I think what I like about these two parts of the process is that my mind gets into a state that is very focused, which unfortunately does not happen with many other activities.
Do you have a special place that you like to work in ? Studio outdoors?
Mostly I work in my studio. All of my tools are accessible, so I don’t get frustrated when I need something. There are multiple places where I like to sketch. Libraries and reading rooms are great because they are public places, but are quiet and don’t have too many distractions. When I run out of ideas I am surrounded by seemingly endless volumes of knowledge. I like the labyrinthine, esoteric qualities of libraries, especially older ones. I also work in coffee shops, conservatories (the plant kind), and museums.
Have you always been a creative person? At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in art?
I have always been a creative person, but adapting that creativity to a career has been a somewhat meandering path. After attending design school and receiving a BFA in illustration, I started out focusing on children’s and middle grade book illustration, but making a livable income in that market was difficult. So I learned 3D modeling and found a job at a video game developer. There, I was occasionally asked to generate concept art, and discovered that I was far more interested in the development of ideas and visual aesthetics than I was in asset creation. So I went to contract work, hoping to develop my 2D abilities and work as a concept artist. Once my rendering abilities reached a point where I could create visuals that reflected my own aesthetic I lost my drive to develop projects that I did not originate, and I ended up focusing on my own narratives.
If you could give any advice to an aspiring artist what would it be?
I don’t know that I have much useful advice, as I rarely know what I’m doing, but the one thing that I’ve noticed is being kind of stubborn and boneheaded can be useful. When people say negative things about my work I tend to just blunder on. When I’m experiencing a low point in my projected career I just blunder through it. I don’t always land exactly where I expect, but I am creating work that I love. Life goes by too fast and is fraught with hardship, art should be a solace not a source of frustration.
Do you have anything special/new projects coming up in 2018?
I have several projects in the works, mostly in book form. I am currently designing a collection of my ink and graphite work called Desultoria, after a show I had in 2015 where I first started showing in galleries. I have a mostly-monthly newsletter on my gallery page amsartor.com, where people can sign up to receive updates (under newsletter).
Thank you so much Amanda for sharing your beautiful work with us!
You can view more of Amanda’s work below!