Hop on the rug with us – and get to know how artist Amber Vittoria lives life well.
Amber Vittoria used to keep her poetry to herself. She’d write in the margins of her sketchbooks, alongside her drawings. But because she didn’t study literature, she always felt she wouldn’t be taken seriously, so she never shared her writing with anyone. But then the pandemic happened. “At that point, I was like, ‘Who cares? We're all locked up in our homes, I have these things I'm writing, I'm gonna share them because I can't see anybody and I can't connect with anyone physically,” she says. “So I'm gonna put this out in the world and hope for the best.”
To her surprise, the best happened: her words resonated with a lot of people. So she started to post more of her poetry along with the paintings she was sharing, as well. It has culminated in work that champions the lived experiences of women and celebrates the nuances of womanhood.
Vittoria’s poetry, like her paintings, has become more abstract over the past two years. Initially, she gained attention for the way she depicted women – her focus on imperfect representations of the female form drew much praise. Through her exaggeration of their body parts, she created a far more accurate portrayal of women’s bodies than has often been seen.
For Vittoria, it’s been “pretty incredible and a little overwhelming” to have her work resonate so much with people that they reach out to tell her as much. “It’s really nice to be able to connect with people that I have never met, and may not ever have the opportunity to meet in person, over something that I made, and have them tell me how it affected them emotionally.”
New shapes, same intention
Even as her work has become more abstract, she still gets a lot of similar responses to the pieces she puts out. Even though her pieces are no longer the figurative representations of women she had previously done, they still share a commonality with what came before. “The pieces I make now represent an emotional state that I've been in and, given that I am a woman, a lot of other women relate to that as well,” she says. “So it's been great to see that even as I evolve, that people still have that emotional connection to my work.”
Vittoria, who lives in New York and grew up two hours outside of the city, studied graphic design at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. “I chose design because I wasn't too sure what type of artist I wanted to be as a teen, and I felt that design kind of helped me encompass all different types of media,” she says. “I chose that, and played around with photography and illustration and sculpture and painting.”
When she graduated, Vittoria worked full time as an in-house designer at a few agencies and began to illustrate on the side, at night and on weekends. “A few years into working professionally, that's where I started to find my confidence within my own personal work and started to share that on social media,” she says. It was the start of her freelance career, as her social media posts led to gaining clients of her own. Vittoria built her client list to include companies like Condé Nast, Atlantic Records, Gucci, The New York Times and Instagram.
Ribbons of color and words
Along the way, Vittoria developed her voice and style. Keen eyes will spot just how her work has shifted and expanded, since she shares her process on social media, letting followers in on her technique — and her obsession with bright colors.
“I've always gravitated towards making really colorful artwork,” she says. “But I did study color theory in school and that definitely informed it, and I love learning about how different people interpret different colors. I think that color holds so much meaning, which is why I love using different color combinations.”
She’s put together a compilation of her favorite paintings and poems that go with them in a book, titled These Are My Big Girl Pants, that’s due out next year. In the meantime, she’s become a force in the NFT space, using it to find new ways to share her work.
Whatever form her work takes, one thing remains: the inspiration Vittoria takes from stories of the women around her and from nature will continue to inform the pieces she creates, both in color and word. “My process is loose,” she says. “I like to keep it playful, where sometimes I'm doing a painting and then a poem will come out of that painting. And sometimes it's the opposite, where I'll make a poem and that informs the painting. So I kind of like to oscillate between the two.” It’s the best place for Vittoria – and for fans of her work – to be.
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