Amber Vittoria on switching digital techniques for paint during lockdown and how it’s amplified her work

The NYC-based illustrator has found a love of analogue media with all the extra time she has on her hands.

Date
21 October 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

The work of New York City-based illustrator Amber Vittoria has always been about portraying themes of womanhood, upending beauty standards and gender norms, in turn. Using digital techniques, her characters are bold, brash and colourful and they take up space, unapologetically. Recently, however, she’s turned to more delicate processes, working with a paintbrush, watercolours and spray paint. But instead of dampening the impact of her works, it’s had the opposite effect – amplifying them.

Amber turned to paint when lockdown hit New York as she suddenly found herself with more time on her hands, not needing to travel for workshops and talks anymore. It’s allowed her work to develop as her ability to “be exact yet abstract with the messages behind my work has compounded with my ability to paint more.” The result of which are paintings featuring figures which are non-representational and simple in their form while simultaneously communicating the themes which have always been present in Amber’s practice.

“Being able to explore the relatability and vulnerability of womanhood within my work,” is what’s been driving her creativity recently, she explains, “creating pieces that bring joy to those who need it and bring questioning to those who have held up the gender binary have been important to my work thus far, but have been more deeply explored since painting.”

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Amber Vittoria: Where Did You Say the Closest Bakery Was? from the series Collectively Alone (Copyright © Amber Vittoria, 2020)

A body of work she’s particularly excited by is titled Collectively Alone, and is one she’s been producing for a gallery show with Uprise Art and Cooler Gallery. Consisting of smaller and larger works, the pieces demonstrate the newfound freedom that Amber’s latest tools have afforded her, allowing her to express the confusion and isolation the past year has presented for all of us. Each piece features a standalone figure, “speaking to the idea of spending time with ourselves, learning about ourselves, and growing to become a better person for those around you,” Amber explains.

The titles of the work are paramount to the series, expressing the sentiment of the work as a series. There’s Running To Nowhere, for example, which sees a character emerge out of a blue and pink paint stroke, mid-run, a flower grasped in its hand. And there’s Where Did You Say The Closest Bakery Was?, which was “inspired by the longing of even the quick human interaction of purchasing a cookie from a local shop.” It depicts a figure posed on their tiptoes in an almost childlike, questioning manner, their body a combination of spray paints eloquently composed. There are broader themes running through the series, too, Amber explains like “letting go of the warped ideals of achievement,” and, as a result, the series dives into “personal, relatable stories from this past year.”

Another series she’s been working on is titled Smile For Me, Sunshine, which is more about process and sees Amber sketching out forms first or simply going straight for it with paint on paper. Ultimately, reflecting on her work, whether it’s an experimentation in process or more led by concepts, she’s tells us “I love to work on projects that tell a story – even a simple one.”

Collectively Alone will be opening at Cooler Gallery in Brooklyn in December but you can purchase smaller editions from the series via Uprise Art from 22 October.

GalleryAmber Vittoria (Copyright © Amber Vittoria, 2020)

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Smile For Me, Sunshine

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Smile For Me, Sunshine

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Smile For Me, Sunshine

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Running to Nowhere, from the series Collectively Alone

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Stop Saying Smile, from the series Collectively Alone

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Cautiously Forward, from the series Collectively Alone

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She Hath Wings, from the series Collectively Alone

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Me Listening to Cis Men Say They’d Never Get an Abortion, from the series Collectively Alone

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Find the Light, from the series Collectively Alone

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Dragging My Dreams Along, from the series Collectively Alone

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The Scenic Route, from the series Collectively Alone

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The Scenic Route, from the series Collectively Alone

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Beyond the Breeze, from the series Collectively Alone

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Amber Vittoria: To Exist is to be Natural, from the series Collectively Alone (Copyright © Amber Vittoria, 2020)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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