Painter and printmaker Amber George is inspired by the patterns of nature and the world around her. Amber was raised in California and she has been studying art since she was a child. Her summer vacations to family-owned farms in the mid-west furthered her interests in gardening, camping, horseback riding and craft making which all ultimately influenced her creative spirit. In 1994, Amber earned a BFA while studying with Lari Pittman and Nancy Rubins, two well established contemporary artists.

Amber’s work is now in many private and corporate collections including franchises like the Four Seasons and Westin Hotels and Kansas City Power and Light.

Moreover, her work was featured in a book titled “Embracing Encaustic” and “Studio Visit Magazine” and she enjoyed a solo show at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas. Amber’s paintings also appeared on HGTV’s show “Dream Home 2012”.

A curator as well as an artist, Amber is represented by Susan Eley Fine Art in New York and she recently discussed her experiences working as a professional artist.

Painting, printmaking, and galleries

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to seek out a career as an artist?

Amber George (AG): As a child, I spent considerable time making things with my grandmothers. We painted, sewed, cooked, arranged flowers, crocheted, knitted, and did cross stitch. Those experiences influence my imagery.

I took art in high school and was encouraged to go to art school by my art teachers.

MM: How did you evolve your unique style and what are your main mediums?

AG: I found my voice by working with images that resonate with me. I impulsively catalog observations of plants, scenes, shadows, textures, and things that catch my eye.

I work in different media, but mostly painting and printmaking. I have been making monotypes since the mid 90's. I love the spontaneity and surprise that happens when the plate and paper meet and it's impossible to exactly predict the outcome. The monotype imagery foreshadows changes in my paintings. I paint in acrylic and encaustic which is beeswax based with pigments.

I also collage paper and fabrics into the paintings.

MM: How did you initially go about getting your work shown and eventually featured in galleries?

AG: I worked in a contemporary art gallery. It gave me tremendous insight into how the business worked and told me all the things not do to work with galleries. I made developed a body of work of maybe 20-30 paintings, had them professionally photographed and wrote a thoughtful and brief artist statement. I waited until I had work that I felt so strongly about that rejection wasn't going to make me question the work. This was critical to being able to move past rejection and be able to keep looking for representation. When I started out I approached galleries who represented work that I liked and had a philosophy that supported emerging artists.

MM: How did you connect with the Susan Eley Fine Art and what have your experiences with the organization been like?

AG: I saw an ad for the gallery shortly after it opened and what really stood out for me was Susie's statement that she was interested in seeing an artist's work evolve. I knew that being an emerging artist meant that my work was probably going to change and shift if I stayed true to making authentic work and I felt that Susie was going to be a good fit. After working together for almost eight years, I have really enjoyed working with Susie and I am excited to see what then next chapter holds.

Artwork, advice, and commissions

MM: What do you regard as being is the most rewarding thing about working as an artist?

AG: It's gratifying that people like the work and want to have it in their personal spaces. Watching people enjoy the artwork at openings is also really lovely - someone once said to me that my work surprised him in an unexpected way and that was amazing to hear. Being an artist is about externalizing your interior thoughts and ideas and sharing it with the world without expectations for the outcome which makes me feel vulnerable and empowered at the same time.

MM: What advice might you offer to a person who is striving to become a professional artist?

AG: Spend time thinking about your ideas and make work about those ideas. Think very purposely about your choice of imagery, materials, marks, colors, and symbols.

Make lots and lots of work. Be wary of visual influences from other artists - it's great to admire the work of others but you need to make your work match your voice. Be careful to act with integrity at every turn. The art world is small and everyone is connected. Be genuine in building relationships with people you respect without expecting something out of that connection. Understand the business from the gallery's position. They are busy representing the work of artists in their stable along with helping clients, planning shows, engaging the public, packing work, prepping for exhibitions and art fairs. They will appreciate you following their submission guidelines even if your work doesn't fit.

Getting rejected is part of the business. Get used to it. It's not personal.

MM: Do you have any future projects or events that you would like to mention?

AG: I'm working on a large commission for the Kansas University Hospital to be installed sometime in the fall. I am also very excited to be expecting my first child, a daughter, in September 2017. I already have plans for a mini easel in my studio for her!