Amanda Wood: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist
Get comfortable being visible. Visibility is the key to selling your work. Post good quality photos of your work on social media and describe in detail the materials, your process, what it means to you and learn to get comfortable pricing your work. You don’t necessarily need a website either. Network in your local art communities, other artists will support you along the way. Leverage social media, participate in art festivals, do podcasts and eventually, local and then national news media to share what you create and how you create it. Then, you’ll be ready to take on the world.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Wood, Sculptor Artist Full Time at Amanda Robin Wood
Experienced sculptor with a demonstrated history of working in ceramic clay and other materials. Skilled in Conceptual Art. Positive professional with a BFA focused in Fine Art and Communication Design from University of North Texas.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Though born in the US, most of my formative years were spent living over-seas with my parents, experiencing a wide verity of culture from from around the world. We lived in countries like Iran (before Khomeini), Trinidad, Dubai, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Constant exposure to a wide range of religions, cultures and traditions has been an enriching foundation for me as an artist, influencing my creative work quite heavily over the years.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
In the mid 1980s, I’d settled in Dallas, Texas to finish my education. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art/Design from the University of North Texas in 1995, I began a career as a graphic designer, which spanned many years in the Dallas area.
While in the art program at UNT, I’d absolutely fallen in love with building forms out of both ceramic clay and wax for bronze casting. While my design degree paid the bills, I found myself longing for that feeling of connection I get when I’m sculpting. It’s a meditative gap where I feel like I’m tapping into something greater than myself. Time and space fall away (along with worry and stress), then 4 hours later you look up at the clock, realizing it feels like you’d just sat down and you don’t know where the time has gone!
When I had both my daughters, I was an at-home mother in search of a creative outlet. I’d tried my had at sculpted cakes like what you see on cake decorating TV shows. That was fun for a bit, but after some time in thought, it became more apparent that I had a strong need to make a more permanent mark. That’s when I started taking sculpture classes again and purchased my first ceramic kiln.
Constructing forms out of different types of clay just comes naturally to me, sometimes with great ease. Everything else I’ve tried to do before felt forced, it was hard, stressful, taxing work. It didn’t fit… I didn’t fit… and it had taken a great toll on me, psychologically. Sculpting is the one thing I’ve found that gives me this feeling of belonging, deep connection and true accomplishment.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Recently, after taking a course with another artist, I’ve taken up the daily practice of writing in my journal. Specifically, from a perspective of future gratitude, writing as if everything you’ve ever dreamed of has already happened for you. Through this, I’ve learned to speak into existence my deepest desires and biggest dreams. The more I write, the more clarity I get. Through this process, I’m able to train both brain and soul to believe and to live in a space where anything I could ever hope for is already here and within reach. It’s amazing what can happen for you when you are mentally prepared, open and accepting. Ready to receive… what it is that the universe or your higher power has in store for you.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
This year, I’ve discovered an exciting new sculpting medium called Pal Tiya. It’s a concrete powder with fibers and elements that grow invisible molecular crystals for added strength. With this material, I’m finally free to build sculptures as large as I want with virtually no limits! This allows for both small and massive sculptures to be placed outside in even the most extreme weather conditions without fear of any damage.
In ceramic clay, my more abstracted botanical forms would have been far too delicate, lacking the structural integrity necessary to transport them or place them outdoors in harsh elements. While I still build certain forms in ceramic clay, the Pal Tiya has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. As a result, the once secondary botanical elements adorning my figure sculpture, have now become the primary focus in my work.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
While I’m a bit of an introvert, I do like to get out and see gallery openings and exhibitions. Last Spring went to a gallery opening opening in River Oaks, Houston. I had a wonderful discussion the gallery director and some famous artists, collectors and an interior designer. That night I got some wonderful insight about the Houston art market and made some great connections and made a new friend. You never know who you’re going to meet and what it might lead to, so it’s important to get out and mingle!
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
For the past 3 years we’ve been living in a suburb, just West of Houston, Texas. The environment here is notoriously humid and the frequent afternoon rain showers allow the large variety of tropical plants and flowers here to thrive. I find myself studying characteristics of flowers and noticing the nuanced patterns in petals and basic forms.
At the moment I’m particularly fascinated with the strength and resilience in flowers and botanicals. For me, they’re the perfect representation of feminine strength. Though they have such a delicate, vulnerable appearance, they surprise us with strength and vitality. I’ve noticed, after a violent storm, flowers laying on the ground are still recognizable, still beautiful, still relevant. Even wilted and distressed, I still find them beautiful, elegant and interesting. They still have structure, integrity and pattern.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As artists, we have the ability to shift the mood of the audience/viewer any time they look at our work. For me, I feel a strong calling to put more love and comfort into the world. Life is difficult, for a LOT of people. If I can create a piece from a high vibrational place of love, rhythm, strength and joy, I can create a touchstone for others. A point where people are reminded of source, connection, love and calm.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
As a female sculptor, I tend to stick out in a world full of predominantly male sculptors. A trained graphic designer/package designer, shifting to becoming a sculptor was a natural progression, but I still had to find some things out the hard way. I’ve learned to:
- Make friends with fear. Most of us have to overcome the fear of trying something new. Fear is a primal instinct dating back to ancient times, designed to keep you safe from predators and dangerous situations. Allowing yourself to empathize with your brain’s need to keep you safe, then shifting the fear to child-like excitement, curiosity and state of wonder can make all the difference! Then you’re minimizing the fear and tapping into the excitement of creating as an artist.
- Know your worth. Don’t underprice your artwork. When I first started, I was afraid to charge very much. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I’d had enough experience to command enough money for my work, even though I was losing a great deal of money on festival booth fees, professional art studio rent, marketing and the high cost of materials/equipment. It took me a while to get comfortable charging what my work is really worth. But still, to this day, I have a couple of collectors that say things like… “Remember that piece of art I practically STOLE FROM YOU when you first started!?!” When I hear that, it makes me cringe. And, depending on what level you are in your career, it hurts the rest of the art market when you undercharge.
- Good quality photography. You don’t need fancy cameras and expensive lighting. You can get really good phone apps for photographing artwork, and placing your art in an existing shot of a professionally designed room. Photographing your work with a good daylight colored bulb, or outside on an overcast day or on a shady side of the house, you can still get god photos,
- Identify what makes you and your work uniquely and authentically “you.” Focus on finding your individual voice and don’t get caught up in comparing yourself with other artists. That pulls the momentum away from you. Is there something you do in your own way that nobody else does similarly? Develop that. That’s your “thing!” Even if you don’t feel like you’re a great artist yet. All artists take time and training to develop into the ‘amazing, talented” artists you see in art shows and online. It takes time to define your body of work and develop skills and a style that is uniquely your own. That’s ok. Take that important time to develop.
- Get comfortable being visible. Visibility is the key to selling your work. Post good quality photos of your work on social media and describe in detail the materials, your process, what it means to you and learn to get comfortable pricing your work. You don’t necessarily need a website either. Network in your local art communities, other artists will support you along the way. Leverage social media, participate in art festivals, do podcasts and eventually, local and then national news media to share what you create and how you create it. Then, you’ll be ready to take on the world!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Belief in one’s self is probably the biggest determining factor in professional and personal success. If I could be a part of an organization that nurtures young students and teaches them how to leverage limitless beliefs, positive thought patterns and positive/supportive mindset, I think we could fix some of the problems we as a society face today. These not-so-subtle shifts have been a complete game changer for me!
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
While I try to stay away from TV as much as I can throughout the day/evening, I do watch a U.S. morning news show. Hoda Kotb is a news journalist and morning TV host on NBC. I absolutely adore Hoda and I’d move heaven and earth for a chance to meet her in person. Her authenticity shines through in everything she does and she does it with such grace. I watch her on the Today Show every morning and watch her and Jenna Bush Hager on their show at 10 AM Central whenever I can. I find Hoda just has this brilliant, sparkling spirit that’s somehow larger than life. Jenna is just as genuine and inspiring. The love and support Hoda and Jenna put out into the world each day, it seems to start my day off right, coming from a place of love, gratitude and acceptance.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!