We caught up with artist Amber B to discuss moving to L.A., what becomes of her larger-than-life creatures and why she can’t skate…
Oyster: Where are you and what’s doing today?
Amber B: I am home in Southern California, I’m editing photos at the moment, and am about to go on a bike ride.
Oyster: Your textiles seem so soft and cuddly but can also be menacing and sometimes a little wicked – can you explain the correlation?
Amber B: I have always loved the idea of opposites; how something can be sweet and lovely on the outside, yet dark and sinister on the inside… Things are never what they seem.
Oyster: Was there any benefit to living on the opposite side of the world from your husband when you first met – other than giving you the inspiration for an exhibition?
Amber B: I guess the only upside is, is that it made me appreciate how wonderful he is, especially when we were together again.
Oyster: Has moving to LA changed your art?
Amber B: I think anyone that uses their art to dig deeper, and explore ideas and feelings will always be inspired by the things around them; and LA is that to me.
Los Angeles is an interesting place… No one really lives there because it’s awesome, instead, they move there because they want to be someone or something. So the entire town is full of this kinetic energy that keeps moving forward, and is always making things happen… It’s definitely the people that make LA, not the city.
Oyster: Given that both you and your husband are artists, do you ever butt heads discussing your work?
Amber B: Absolutely, but in the best possible way… We’re incredibly honest with one another, more than either one of us has probably ever experienced. So brainstorming, creating, and editing is fun since we both have different styles and ideas, but also have the upmost respect for each other.
Oyster: Your exhibition SummerWinter has just finished, how did it go?
Amber B: My exhibition SummerWinter turned out beautifully. The whole process of putting together a solo show can make you feel quite vulnerable afterward since you put so much of yourself into it. Nevertheless, I found it refreshing, especially since I work in the commercial industry a lot. It is rare to do a project where you get complete creative control… I really love pushing myself to see what I can do with no limits.
Oyster: What has become of the 6ft centrepiece creature that you created for SummerWinter?
Amber B: Miss Winter is actually still living in the gallery, she was invited to be part of an anniversary group show at POVevolving gallery, which featured all the creatives that have exhibited at the gallery over the past year. Not to mention, I think she really enjoys the wide-open space of the gallery compared to the tight confines of my studio.
Oyster: Where do you keep all of your creatures?
Amber B: I have only kept a select few of my favourites from past shows. They are the ones that mean a lot to me and invoke memories or ideas, they live in our apartment with us. Otherwise most creatures are sold at shows, or used in art swaps with my creative friends and family.
Oyster: Do you feel that your inspiration for your photography and your other artwork comes from different places?
Amber B: I really love shooting landscapes, so traveling is definitely a huge inspiration for me and living somewhere different to your home makes you feel like you are traveling everyday to some extent, seeing and experiencing new things all the time. Lately I have been shooting a lot of portraits which for me as a really shy person is really interesting… you get to explore whole landscapes in people’s faces and your forced to leave your shyness and connect with your subject.
Oyster: You do a lot of work with the Element Advocates program, do you skate? Tell us about your involvement with this project, and how you came to be involved?
Amber B: I am not an awesome skater but I have always loved that from the point that you pick up a skateboard it teaches you about yourself, ambition and to keep trying until you accomplish what you have set out to do.
I started working with Element in Australia about 6 years ago, shooting all their advertising and catalogues for Element Eden (their women’s line). Throughout this, I was continuing with my own creative endeavors on the side, and started garnering some attention. From there, Element liked what I was doing, and since we both had a similar goal in mind, they asked me to represent the brand on a larger level.
When I moved to the States, I was lucky because I had an instant family to make me feel at home. The Element Advocate program is an inspiring group of people that make a difference through their art, music, humanitarianism and own personal journeys.
Oyster: Where do you find is the best place to go to be inspired and create your artwork?
Amber B: I am a shy, introverted person, and love to stand back and watch people and things. I am most inspired by big open natural landscapes; the ocean when it is wild and turbulent, and often materials & textures will conjure ideas of characters and stories in my mind. I am also deeply inspired by the creatives around me, doing amazing things!
Oyster: What’s your dream creature to create?
Amber B: You know that feeling when you listen to your favorite song and it feels like your chest is going to burst with emotion? If I could create a creature that made people feel like that, then that would be my dream creature!
Oyster: What’s next for you?
Amber B: Right now I’m working on a collaboration with DWR, as they’re launching the 111 Chair with Coca Cola and furniture company. Beyond that, lots of photography projects, there is an Element Advocate group show at Monster Children Gallery in Sydney, which I’m excited to be part of. And then, the most fun thing is a special installation I’m creating for The Camp in Costa Mesa for the holiday season. So I’m basically getting my hands into anything and everything I can… It is always important for me to keep moving forward and learn something new everyday.