Babe #49: AMBER VITTORIA,
Designer @ Avon + Freelance Illustrator
Currently hustling as an in-house designer at Avon in addition to working as a freelance illustrator, Amber is an insanely unique artist with a personal style that's hard to miss. Having already worked for kickass companies like Man Repeller, Lenny Letter, Teen Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue and her dream brand, The New York Times, I'd say she's doing pretty well, and I can't wait to see where she goes next. Thanks for chatting with us about why you do what you do, Amber, (and thanks for being our Valentine!)
Hometown: Patterson, NY
Current city: New York, New York
Alma mater: Boston University, College of Fine Arts
Degree: B.A. in Graphic Design
Hustle: Freelance Illustrator, Designer @ Avon
Babe you admire and why?
My mother. I recently recorded a memory as to why:
I was 11 years old and sitting on the floor in the living room, coloring in my last piece for my Studio Art class application. The drawing was of a Golden Retriever puppy wrapped in an American flag. I was using colored pencil - my favorite medium before I knew the definition of the word itself. I wanted to be one of the only middle schoolers accepted to all four high school classes (Italian, Earth Science, Math A, Studio Art) offerd to us. When I was finished, I held up my piece, waiting for my mother's approval. She responded, "Have you ever considered pursuing art as you grow older?" I paused. "Yeah, but can you make money as an artist? Can you survive? I think I’d like to be a lawyer like Aunt Lara and Uncle Dave. They buy me nice Coach bags." She laugh-sighed. "Amber, the best advice I can give you is to pursue what you love. If you love it with all of your heart, you will figure out how to survive. Happiness is far more important than Coach bags."
How do you spend your free time?
Drawing aside: running and eating are my two favorite pastimes.
Favorite app, website or blog?
Instagram (my third unofficial favorite pastime.)
Must-have item in your purse?
My brush pens and sketchbook.
Favorite beauty item?
Avon Moisture Therapy lip balm.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Something that included truffle.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Cold water, an apple, and some form of chocolate.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
One of my good friends, Charis; I haven’t seen her in a few years.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
My parents' house.
Tell us about your hustle:
I’m a freelance illustrator who has worked with some really lovely publications including Teen Vogue, Man Repeller, and Lenny Letter. I am also currently a full-time in-house digital designer for Avon.
What does your typical workday look like?
During my day job with Avon’s representative experience, I am concepting and designing landing pages, with a focus on rebranding the representative experience from a visual perspective. On nights and weekends, I spend most of my time illustrating and creating at home.
How did you develop such a unique style in your work, and when did you know you wanted to pursue it?
Almost a year ago; a point in time came where the work I was making was more inspired by other people’s opinions and less by my own. Because of this, I began to create work that was inspiring to me, and me alone.
What inspires it? Pop culture? Current events?
Everyday women that enter my life, from family and friends to those I pass on the sidewalk.
What are the different mediums you’ve worked on as a designer and illustrator?
Predominantly I work both digitally and by hand; the color is done rudimentarily on the computer, is printed on an older laser-jet printer, and the linework is applied with a brush pen.
What brands have you worked with so far? What has your favorite project been?
So far, I’ve worked with Saks Fifth Avenue, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller, Lenny Letter, and Heist Studios. Most recently, I worked with Matthew Dorfman, the Art Director for the New York Times Book Review. It has been a goal of mine to work with the New York Times on an illustration, and having done so is the best feeling.
How would you say your gender or ethnicity has affected your career and/or your work?
Systemically, being a woman is a disadvantage and being caucasian is an advantage. It’s a terrible reality that my work aims to change, even in a small way. By focusing on women of all backgrounds as my subject matter, I aim to chip away at our caucasian, patriarchal (art) history.
What is your work environment/atmosphere like?
Currently, my apartment is where most of my work is made. Ideally, said apartment would have a separate room for a studio space.
Do you ever get into creative funks? How do you combat them?
Often. Not focusing on the block is the best medicine. Teaching myself it is okay to have a funk, and that it’ll soon pass, has been a difficult lesson.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
That creatives get terribly upset when they read a menu in Comic Sans.
What are some of the everyday struggles in your job that we might not see?
All of the work that doesn’t work.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
I’ve been partnering with other artists to create pins and raise money for organizations in need. Recently, India K and I collaborated on 400 “Product of Immigration” pins. We've raised over $4,000 thus far for the ACLU.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job?
Favorite: creating. Least favorite: dirty fingernails.
In working with other brands, do you feel like you lose sense of your own work?
At other places, I have; however, at Avon, I’m so inspired by the women who are representatives for the brand. They run their own businesses, are incredibly independent, and talented. Working to support them actually inspires my illustration work.
Who is your dream brand to work with and why?
The New York Times; the artists they publish are incredible, and I've wanted to become a part of that roster for as long as I can remember.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
When a piece that I'm creating just isn’t working. Overcoming it is to recognize it and move on.
If you could be proficient in another art form, what would it be?
Music. I’d love to be a pianist.
What advice would you give to a Babe who is trying to break into your industry?
Create every single day, even if for only a few minutes.
What motivates and inspires you?
All women who are a part of my life in both significant and insignificant ways.
What does success look like to you?
How do you find a work-life balance?
Knowing when to pause, see the world, then come back to work.
What helps you wind down and how do you manage stress?
Running and reading!
What are some notable (funny, embarrassing, intense) experiences you’ve had on the job?
Unknowingly having ink on my face, always.
What are your goals for the future?
To keep creating for as long as I can.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
"No" is just a word.
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