Welcome to the third in a series of interviews with creative friends and acquaintances I have collected over the years. My aspiration is to share their insights on what inspires them, how they work through creative blocks and rejection and their upcoming projects and aspirations on the first Saturday of each month (the idea: if you get inspired to “play,” you have the weekend to manifest what your Muse demands!!!).
This month, we get to know artisan Amy Freeman.
Amy Freeman is a passionate artist, wife and mother of two boys. Through her career, she has been an accomplished, published illustrator, painter, graphic designer and jewelry artisan. Amy studied at the Art Institute of Dallas. She worked for a series of publishing companies as a digital illustrator at the beginning of her career and for the past eight years ran her own design firm, ZA Works LLC.
Most recently, Amy began her new line of Amy’s Art Wear, merging her modern digital skills with a bit of old world fine handcrafting. She is focusing on what she loves to do most and will no longer be providing her graphic services (to read more about Amy, check out her blog).
Amy and I digitally crossed paths earlier this year, and I am totally fascinated with her talent and drive. Read on!
Lucky Ginger Studio: At what age do you remember first embracing your Inner Artist?
Amy Freeman: As long as I can remember I have been an artist. I wasn’t ever good at anything else so I knew I’d better stick to what I loved and what I was good at doing.
LGS: What or who inspired you to start making jewelry and your art wear?
AF: My husband is the one who pushed me to sell and start a business doing what I love.
LGS: In what ways do you enjoy expressing your creativity? (writing, cooking, drawing, etc.)
AF: I have always been able to draw. I also enjoy photography and painting.
LGS: What time of day do you feel most creative?
AF: Hummm probably at night when no one is needing me.
LGS: Do you have any creative rituals? (example: when I am doing post-production, I HAVE TO HAVE MUSIC)
AF: The kids are with the hubby, my dogs are with me, a cup of coffee and surrounded by colors.
LGS: What other artisans/creatives inspire you?
AF: I have very eclectic taste so I like many different types of artists. I don’t keep up with anyone specific. I love to go through museums to see the greats and then I also really enjoy going into galleries to see what’s new and who is doing something out of the ordinary.
LGS: Do you have a support group of other artisan/creative friends? If so – how do you support each other?
AF: I have a few, but I don’t really get to see them often these days. My main squeeze is my husband. He is also a creative and fully supports what I do. When he knows I need to come up with a new line, he often helps with brain storming as well as stepping up his game to help with the kids.
LGS: Training: self-taught? classes? little bit of both?
AF: I’d say both. I got my degree from the Art Institute of Dallas in 2002. I also decided to take some metalsmithing classes for kicks and giggles about two years ago and then there is trial and error.
LGS: Do you allow yourself creative “play” time? (just messing around by making things for YOU…with no project in mind?) If so: how often?
AF: Yes for sure! My play times are usually when I come up the best stuff I do. I need these times for my sanity and do so probably once a week.
LGS: When you encounter creative blocks, how do you work through or around them?
AF: I usually walk away and tell myself that today’s just not the day. Then I’ll try again the next day. Sometimes I surf the web or go to a book store and look at all the art books, too. Going for a hike down the trail away from life is also a good for me.
LGS: If the “What You’re Doing Is No Good” voice pops into your head, how do you shut it down?
AF: Usually when I get that feeling, I start over and do shut down. If I don’t love it then I don’t show it. I do what I love and therefore must love what I do. If I don’t love what I’ve done, it goes in the trash for no one to see. I’ve been known to take a big canvas full of oil paints to the bath tub to wash it all down the drain. I don’t create waiting for someone to tell me its good. Art has always been in the eye of the beholder. If you like something, there is a chance someone else will, too.
LGS: How do you move through criticism or rejection of your work?
AF: In the beginning of my professional career, I started out as a children’s illustrator. I had to learn to suck it up! I took some hard blows with a book packager then a publisher picked me up and literally thought everything I did was gold. Recognizing that not everyone is going to love what you do is important. I feel like I learned this early and it was good for me. Don’t get me wrong – it can still be hard. I also coach myself not to wear my feelings on my sleeves because business is business.
LGS: What’s your favorite tool that helps you get your creative work done?
AF: I have a pencil and a set of color thin felt tip markers along with my sketch book. Everything I do – whether it be a painting or a piece of jewelry – first starts out as a sketch in my book.
LGS: Fill in the blank: When I haven’t created in awhile, I feel ______.
AF: Humm________________. To be honest this doesn’t happen to me. I create all the time. MY dream as a little girl was to get paid to create and my dream came true.
LGS: When you’re designing something, how do you know when it’s done? (example: gut feeling? trusted muse says she loves it?)
AF: This is hard for me because in the metal shop I’m known to overwork a piece. When I paint, I get so tired of it that I’m just done with it. I have the tendency to see every flaw in my work and it can drive me mad. Then I just have to sit back and tell myself that only I really know whats not right about whatever it is. Or I’ll have my husband come express his opinion on what I’m doing.
LGS: What’s your next project?
AF: I want to do and plan to do a big painting for my dining room. I plan on doing it all using pallet knives and playing with layers and scarping way layers to see the under colors.
LGS: What advice do you have for someone who wants to transition from doing their craft on a part-time to a full-time basis?
AF: I’d say be careful. If you do your craft for a relaxing then turning it into a business is a whole new ball game. Also find a way to know whether what you do is profitable before you quit your day job.
I LOVE what Amy is creating. Shameless plug: she has a Facebook page for Amy’s Artwear if you care to see her latest and greatest creations.
If you care to read other “Creativity First” interviews, follow these links: