Amanda Greenberg is something of a rare gem. Residing and working in Brooklyn, NY, she creates digitally refined pencil and ink drawings which seem to resist being pinned down to any clear category. Executed in black on white and peaches and cream pastel shades, the characters she conceives are as original as they are beguiling. Repeated in series to create whole crowds of cool-looking girls, or clad in ethereal leaves and deep in thought – this is desktop screensaver candy if ever I saw it! We caught up with Amanda to talk about autumn in New York, balcony gardens and to find out how she goes about her working day.
Where do you work?
You will find me most early mornings and evenings in the tiny corner in my apartment at a tiny desk nestled between a large bookshelf and a red drum repurposed as a side table. I’m very fortunate to have a balcony with lots of plants overlooking a relatively quiet street in Brooklyn with remnants of an un-gentrified view of the Manhattan skyline. What I’m trying to say is that I can’t complain about the modest space I use to make work, however I do miss the shared studio experience. I consider the “work I do” my illustrations, but the “work I do” that pays for a majority of my tiny corner space is to assist other artists in their own practice – usually very large spaces.
How does your working day start?
I start my day with a cup of tea and a look through emails. If I’m working from home I’ll make a big breakfast. I usually thumb through what I’ve started the night prior in my sketchbook – decide if it’s worth executing fully. Whatever I leave open on my desktop or methodically arranged on my table space is generally the starting point for whatever get’s first dibs. I make a lot of lists on multiple platforms – constant reminders and check ins with myself. I find a lot of surface imagery throughout my day so I like to gather these collections and make folders. A typical day will start anew, as I tend to make the most headway with projects late at night and am too stubborn to take overnight breaks. Sorting, rearranging and manipulating takes up most of my morning routine.
How do you work and how has that changed?
I had a really interesting past six months as I’ve been going through a lot of changes, both in my personal life and work. It’s been a few years since carrying the RISD Illustration degree and am finally feeling ready to endorse my own practice. What I mean is that it’s been a curious struggle sorting through the work I’ve made and experiencing it’s metamorphosis – transitioning into a reconstructed routine with new goals. For example, three years ago I couldn’t say I’d feel most comfortable restricting myself to a 3′ × 4′ desk and chair inside my living space. A solitary space without tangible encouragement from neighboring bodies can feel intimidating. Art school spoils you with a limitless formula to create work and it just so happens that my desired medium was the least cost effective with a reliance on machinery and large spaces.
I’d say my work has changed drastically in process but the starting point is the same. I work with pencil and refine lines with ink then modify and compose in photoshop. Right now I like working with re-appropriated elements that are mostly hidden by the magic of digital draughtsmanship.
I think I’ve adapted to change at my own pace which I’m learning to feel comfortable with – as long as the slow and steady trajectory evades stagnancy. Also, the immediacy of digital exposure that we have control over (however questionable ownership) i.e social media, is really important for an illustrator.
Where would we find you when you’re not at work?
My favorite season to be out in New York is autumn so you’d probably see me gracelessly biking around humming to The Bee Gees.
Would you intern for yourself?
Yes. As my own intern, I would probably see everything I’m doing wrong really clearly and see what needs to change. As myself, I would particularly enjoy handing off all the boring admin jobs and trips to the post office. Also, I sometimes forget to water my plants.