Artist Interview: Amber Michelle Russell – Visual Artist

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I am a self taught artist residing in Wisconsin. I was born in St. Paul, MN. I’ve always been a creative person. I had my first art exhibit at age eleven and recently had my first solo show “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” at Gallery Sev Ven in Los Angeles in 2014.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve always loved spending my time drawing and painting. I started drawing at the age of three and that obsession grew into my adolescence and matured through adulthood.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

How would you describe your style?
Emotional with darker elements.

What’s your inspiration?
Raw emotions. Sometimes unpleasant ones. Art for me, is like therapy. Releasing the negative with a positive is how I like to describe it.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

What is art to you?
Everything. Intimacy at its core. When you see someone’s art, you are seeing their perspectives­ naked and vulnerable for everyone to see. It’s one of the most beautiful things that we get to experience in this life. For me, I personally can’t function unless I’m spending time drawing or painting. I physically become moody and depressed if I’m unable to work on something creative for long periods of time.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

What does your typical day look like?
I usually have to chart out my days. Mornings are for emailing and updating my website and the evenings are for making art, preparing art for shows, packaging for exhibits or sales.

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Anywhere from 15­-40 hours, depending on size.

How do you keep motivated?
By challenging myself. I love time alone, so it’s easy for me to get lost in my work.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

How have your surroundings influenced your work?
I live in a smaller city that isn’t very open to the idea of “dark” art. So it has pushed me to focus on the big picture, outside of my comfortable limits­ which in turn, has gotten me a lot further with my art career as a whole.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I hope to create the type of art that stands out, that people can form an emotional connection to, and that grows appreciation for the darker side of beauty.

How have others reacted to your work?
I have received more positive than negative. Numerous people have told me that they have very deep emotional connection to my work and that is probably the best reaction that I’ve received.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

What do you want others to take away from your work?
I want others to feel something when they look at my work. Even if it isn’t a positive reaction, at least it makes them feel something for a short period of time.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
To have thicker skin and to not be so sensitive. Luckily I developed this trait over time, But as a young artist rejection is really hard to deal with.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
To work your ass off. And then, work some more. You’re never going to get anywhere in the art world if you don’t work for it.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Be prepared to get your feelings hurt. Take criticism and learn from it. Put in the time and effort and learn professionalism.

What are your thoughts on art school?
I am self­taught. Art school wasn’t something that I felt I needed to spend my money on. I think it is very useful for techniques and background studies, but the nice thing about being an artist is that you can be self taught and still make it. It is much harder, because you have to learn all of these skills on your own, but it is extremely rewarding. If you have the extra money and require precise training to thrive, I think it’s worth it. If you have a raw unique talent and you can learn marketing skills, you probably can get pretty far without schooling.

illustration by artist, Amber Michelle Russell

What art supplies do you use?
For my mediums: I use coffee, watercolor, graphite, inks, and tea. I enjoy using cold press over hot press and I use a variety of brushes. Trekell brushes are becoming my new favorite.

How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
If chances were taken on unknown fresh artists. A lot of the time the same group of artists are exhibited or publicized. Which is great because they are beyond talented, it just makes it very difficult for the artists that can’t seem to get their foot in the door.

Find Amber Michelle Russell on Facebook, and Instagram.

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1 Comment

  1. This artist is really skilled, especially since being self taught. It definitely is dark but certainly shows emotions in the subjects. The works all are thought provoking. I think the artists style would work really beautifully with positive emotions as well. Love it, best wishes!



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