I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Palmer about a month and a half ago. The 27 year old artist’s piece “Gentleman Wolf” was featured on Horror Homework’s facebook page and garnered a lot of interest.
Amanda has a Bachelor’s Degree with a dual major in Art History and Anthropology. She is based out of Reno, Nevada and has been artistically inclined for as long as she can remember. When I first met her and she mentioned she was an artist. Naturally I insisted on seeing her work, but when she invited me over and I saw what she was capable of I was left in utter and complete shock. I’ve had talented friends in the past, and even fancied myself to be a pretty decent drawer, but the amount of detail and the level of depth she manages to achieve in her work is indescribable.
Her preferred art mediums for drawing are with charcoal, pen and ink, colored pencil and pastels and acrylic and oils with painting. Her skills aren’t just limited to paper and canvas though, on one of our weekly visits she brought me a sculpted cow skull and I could hardly believe she’d made it using just her hands and a toothpick. I was excited to do an interview with her and thrilled when she agreed!
HH: Thanks for taking the time to do an interview with us! First there’s the obligatory, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
AP: You’re welcome, and it would have to be The Shining. Berlioz’s 5 Movement of his Symphonie Fantastique playing in the title credits, along with the atmospheric simplicity of the heartbeat, sound, and visuals perfectly in sync during the room 237 scene is cinematic mastery.
Nothing else rivals it.
HH: Clearly good taste isn’t just limited to your artwork, The Shining holds a place in the heart of every Horror fan. It’s one of my all time favorites as well. Speaking of favorites, who is your favorite Artist?
AP: I’ve got a lot of favorites, so if it’s okay I’ll go with my top two. Francis Bacon and HR Giger. The themes and psychological intensity of their work never cease to fascinate me. Though there are stylistic differences between us, I think we each march to the same beat.
HH: Francis Bacon, now that’s a name I haven’t heard since my Core Humanities course haha. He was a figurative painter I believe. HR Giger is a name well known in the horror community with his work on the Alien franchise. I definitely think you two march to the same beat, stylistically I see a lot of similarities in both of your artwork. How would you describe your artistic style?
AP: Dark. I don’t really do “fluffy” art. Unless it involves things like mutilated rabbits. Imagine if I tried to do still life. No, really; go ahead, because that’s what I’m currently working on.
HH: Mutilated Rabbits Huh? Sounds like something I’d enjoy! Well I’m sure there are a lot of excited people who can’t wait to see your still life. I’m convinced you can draw anything. Since you mentioned your style is dark, what draws you towards the macabre in a lot of your artwork?
AP: I think life is dark. We are fleeting creatures that can imagine immortality, yet don’t possess it. This creates a paradox, a conflict, which in turn creates suffering. The act of living, of drawing breath involves confronting our mortality on a daily basis. One day we will be no more.
We have an expiration date. Our hearts will cease to beat. And then what? Death. The great Nothing or Something. Is it transformation? Is it an end line drawn on a white page? It’s this unknown, along with the other unknowns it produces to influence our lives and our nature that
feature largely in my work.
HH: That’s interesting. A lot of pop culture has a tendency to focus on immortality. Whether it’s the vampire craze that’s swept the nation or even the concept of zombies and the undead. We’re all seeking a way to cheat death and avoid the final curtain. I’ve always found death and darkness beautiful and I think it’s It’s wonderful you’ve found a way to incorporate it seamlessly into your work. Onto the piece that Horror Homework featured on Facebook, “Gentleman Wolf” seems to be a favorite among your followers, and quite honestly it’s definitely one of mine! What was the inspiration for that piece?
AP: I’ve got a degree in anthropology, and have always been attracted to folklore and mythology. While werewolf myth does come into this piece, I didn’t set out to make one when I initially created it. With trends toward werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc., in popular culture, it’s easy to see how people’s perceptions would immediately ascribe it to that genre, and I certainly don’t mind.
Yet I didn’t do this seeking to ride the riptides of the Stephanie Meyer crowd. As much as I love horror and all of the figures that feature in the horror cannon, this is really about rape culture. If you look beneath most of the Grimm fairy tales involving wolves, in particular Red Riding Hood, there is the wolf in the role of the trickster, or male predator. Charming though he may be, never forget he is out to steal your fruit.
He represents temptation, and coercion, and at last force. Werewolf mythology is great, and plays its hand in this because it unearths the inner conflict in our social selves that are held together under the veneer of control and civility and morality, versus our inner beast and all that it wants. I think most cultures, dating as far back as ancient times, and clearly evident in our own, are extremely ambivalent about rape. On one hand we vilify it, on the other we accept it as something almost inevitable, and even seem to embrace it as desirous.
HH: Wow, it’s always interesting to hear an artist explain their piece. Seeing it and interpreting it on your own is one thing, but seeing it through the eyes of the artist as they were creating it brings a whole new meaning to the piece. You seem to enjoy Gentleman Wolf, but I’m curious as to what your favorite piece was to draw?
AP: Each piece of art you make is like a child. You love it, but your sweat, blood, and tears go into “raising” it. All are my favorites, though the most recent are usually the most coddled. I find this to be the case only because I see my artistic growth with each new piece that I do.
Evolution is important.
HH: Absolutely! I know you’ve recently been doing commissions, what would be your dream commission?
AP: Most artists usually have a hard time with commissions because the seed of inspiration doesn’t start out coming from them. Since this is a “dream” commission, I would want my fans to request prints of the works I already make.
HH: I’m sure that won’t be a problem for you at all. I’d love to decorate my house with some of your pieces. So as an up and coming Artist, what advice do you have for others trying to do the same?
AP: Never give up.
Don’t let people tell you that you won’t make it, that you’ll starve. That’s bull. I believe if you dedicate 100% of yourself to an action, you will operate at 100% capacity, therefore making it very difficult not to achieve your goal. Surround yourself with positive people, people that are working toward similar pursuits who will be interested in what you do, and will help build you up rather than break you down.
Also, you have to want it. You need to want it bad enough to actually commit to doing the work. It’s not going to land in your lap. There will be steps forward and steps backward. Expect it. Even those who “make it” always have to maintain, to adapt or die.
Diversify. If you need to work part-time or full-time at a day job to make ends meet while polishing your art business, do it.
Don’t be afraid to take business classes and use your left brain. This is critical for creatives. So much of art is marketing and catching the eyes of the right people. You need to have a strategy. It’s essential to have good content, niche, and to know who your audience is.
HH: What are your plans for the future of Amanda Palmer Art?
AP: To continue using the advice I just gave and applying it to my own life. I want to make this my job. I want to be a full-time studio artist and writer. Yes, I’m also a writer. I’m currently working on a young-adultish horror novel. Art is what I do. But I can’t do it alone. I need help. I
need to connect with passionate people. If you’re reading this, I’d like you to be one of them.
I’d love to have your support.
HH: Thank you very much Amanda, please keep in touch with us and let us know when Prints become available and when your novel is ready for reading!