Now you are no stranger to Praise You! However would you still introduce yourself and also share with us how you think your work or creative mentality has evolved over the last few years?
My name is Amy Clemens and I’m a full time graphic designer, part time illustrator. I think my work hasn’t evolved very much over the past few years, however my creative mentality has - I found myself struggling to create, worried what my audience would think of what I was doing, stressing about likes and engagement. Once I let that all go, I felt excited to create again, and I think that has absolutely benefited my work.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I think over the next few years I’d like to take the next step with my work - maybe take it away from being just a hobby to something more serious, perhaps a few more group shows, or selling pieces online. Who knows!
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)
As I work full time, I find balance the hardest aspect of my creative work. Because I work full time in the creative industry, sometimes in my off time, I don’t want to do anything creative at all, and therefore I go weeks without drawing anything. It’s hard for me to stay motivated, but I try to push through and draw at least a little bit every weekend.
Can you please share a little about how you go into creating artwork and how you’d describe your style?
My style is pencil realism mixed with other media to create a cohesive, powerful piece. I generally browse the web for my inspo, and create my own reference images from that. I usually have an idea in mind (not always), or a colour scheme or technique I’d like to try.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
I think I create from personal experience. For example, all my pieces for Praise You over the years have come from feelings I have had myself regarding body image. Even in my more fashion/beauty focused pieces, I always include makeup, jewelry, colours and styles I am vibing, so they are all very much reflections of me.
What inspires your style of art? What are the best ways you've found that have refined your practice?
I’m fascinated with portraits, and how a portrait of someone can say so much. I love showing off my own fashion/beauty style within portraits and I think this becomes my own inspiration and drives how many of my pieces look. I draw women mostly, as a woman myself I find that this best connects me to the emotion of the piece or the reasoning behind it. I’ve refined my practise over years of experimenting, making mistakes and pushing myself to be better.
Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?
In the creative industry, there has always been such a stigma around supporting other people, almost if you do then it could be detrimental to you and your work. I think this has changed so much over the past few years, I feel that the industry has become a community as opposed to competition. I’ve felt so much love these past few years being a part of the Praise You family, and I think that just shows what women can do when we all band together and lift each other up, instead of knocking each other down and competing.
How do you deal with the dreaded comparison bug?
Badly! I’m a sucker for comparing my work/body/life to instagram. I know I have to get better at this. I think my main way to deal with it at the moment is to make sure I take a break from social media from time to time, and remember that I do my work for me, not for followers or likes.
Your dream job/project/collaboration – tell us about it? (Have you already worked your dream job? If so, how did you get it?)
Oh wow, I haven’t really thought about this! I’d love to work with fashion or beauty brands.
How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?
Being creative 5 days a week, creative momentum is what I struggle with the most, as sometimes I simply have nothing left when I hit the weekend, so drawing just doesn’t happen. I usually look online for inspo - mainly on Pinterest or Instagram! If i’m not feeling it, researching always helps me in my drawing and design work, and can spark an idea.
How has your work and practice developed over time?
I think my work has changed - I don’t draw as much anymore, so when I do draw, it is more intentional, so I can make the most of the time I have. In terms of my actual practice, over the years I have added new mediums in (paint, watercolour), which has helped me take my work to a new level. This has helped me carve out a distinctive style for myself. I rely less and less on reference images now, and use my imagination more than ever. I know that conceptually, I have come a long way and I think my pieces for Praise You 2017 & 2018 have reflected that.
What or who have been some of your main creative influences?
I am so inspired by some of the incredible female creatives in our business. Whether it be illustrators, artists, typographers, photographers or musicians, I am constantly in awe of women who run their own business and do it all by their self, while still maintaining their integrity as creatives.
Who’s work are you currently loving right now and why?
Honestly, I am just loving the Praise You girls. What an inspiring bunch of women! I love seeing people doing their own thing and just owning it - so huge shout out to my fave, Alex Saba who just continues to push her boundaries and get better and better.
Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago?
It’s super different now. I’ve had to change how I use it and how I view it, because my likes are down, engagement is down, followers are down, but what can you do? I’m not here to create for likes. And I just have to keep remembering that.
Do you think there should be more talk on body image specifically in the creative industry and what do you think is missing when it is in the spotlight?
I think body image within the creative/media industry is extremely skewed. We need to have more honest conversations with each other. To represent everyone within an artistic space, to show all body types, all types of people, no matter what. It’s so important and I think it is absolutely getting better thanks to fearless women pioneering body positivity movements online. I’m so excited for the future as I think it can only get better from here!