Amber is currently a second year student at Birmingham City University studying Graphic Communication with a huge love of analogue design woven in a digital world. As well as graphics, Amber also has a huge passion for Fine Art. She loves painting and drawing, mostly portraits and creating commissions in her free time. She finds it to be a therapeutic way to get off the computer. She loves exploring new fine art techniques and expanding the capabilities of a medium.
When did you first discover your love of analog?
Going into my A-Levels, I chose both Fine Art and Graphic Communication as subjects. I was encouraged to weave what I learnt in Fine Art into my graphics work and I have done that ever since. I got really interested in how when a simple paint stroke is applied a certain way, it can create this whole message about the graphics piece. I really like the idea of connecting the viewer to my work through analogue to show there is a human behind the design.
As you mentioned, you think women are perceived to design ‘typically’ feminine, fragile and tame subject matter. Where do you think this ideology stems from?
It stems from throughout history. Women have always been perceived as the ‘other’ and the ‘helper’ to men so therefore we have always been seen as below and therefore not as strong and not as powerful. Because of that, this ideology has been woven into design characteristics. It is easy to get caught up on stereotypes that we have been raised with as it has been passed down for generations.
Do you think the male gaze affects the successes of women in the creative industry?
Definitely. Doing research for my current university project, I looked into this app which was to help normalise female masturbation and it was taken down on Apple’s app store which is crazy! Yet there are many inappropriate applications that are unhealthy when it comes to relationships with our body that Apple does not take down. It stops women being able to express themselves and support other women and therefore we feel like we have to sit in this particular box and keep our mouths shut at times to be successful in the creative industry.
Therefore we feel like we have to sit in this particular box and keep our mouths shut at times to be successful in the creative industry.
Why do you think certain parts of society deems female empowered art & design as ‘too much’ or inappropriate? for example period, sex positive or feminist art etc
A lot of it is to do with research and education. There is sadly a lack of scientific research when it comes to menstruation and in education. I do not ever remember being taught about female pleasure when it comes to masturbation and sexual intercourse. So when people see these ‘radical’ pieces of art and design, they think it goes too far but in fact it is just things that need to be normalised. One example would be Casey Jenkins’ ‘Cast off my womb’ which was to help normalise periods but there has been loads of negative comments saying that it is gross. There needs to be more in education to normalise these things instead of being shunned for speaking out.
When people see these ‘radical’ pieces of art and design, they think it goes too far but in fact it is just things that need to be normalised.
What do you think can be done to break down this stigma?
Get the conversation going, especially with young people. As our minds are growing, we are learning so teaching young people and kids around us that these things are normal will help stop this stigma. We can make designs targeted at young people to educate them where the education system has failed us.
We can make designs targeted at young people to educate them where the education system has failed us.
What advice would you give to creatives that feel daunted by expressing themselves freely in their art?
You have to be prepared to face backlash. There are going to be people who disagree with your views but knowing you are helping people is what matters. People who push the boundaries and break stigmatisation are the ones who get noticed so know that your passion will be worth it in the end and know that you will be the reason why someone feels a little more confident tomorrow.
People who push the boundaries and break stigmatisation are the ones who get noticed so know that your passion will be worth it in the end.
Who are some informational/empowering she/they creatives we should all be following?
I love Aries Moross. Their work with the LGBTQ+ community is something that shows a loving and beautiful side to the community. Their typographic designs are so expressive and just lift my spirits and make me proud to support such amazing communities. Marion Bisserier is an amazing creative who created this typeface that explores the power of femininity in a male industry which is definitely worth looking at. I am also a big fan of Morag Myerscough and Camille Walala’s work as their exploration of colour always brightens my day.
As feminists, what can we do to spotlight she/they creatives that are breaking the mould?
Use the power of social media. Social media can be an amazing thing when supporting creatives. Tagging them when you see their work, posting their work on your Instagram stories, using LinkedIn to showcase their work and posting pictures when you go to galleries and events. Also don’t forget to go to little exhibitions and markets that they might be a part of. You don’t have to go big to support each other, there can be little everyday things that can make a creative’s day.
You don’t have to go big to support each other, there can be little everyday things that can make a creative’s day.
What is your opinion of social media in relation to creating gendered stereotypes?
Social media can be a toxic place when it comes to stereotypes. Women have to be seen a certain way and pose a certain way and look a certain way to get the likes and acknowledgment that we crave. I have learnt to start to post what I want to post. I love using social media as a documentation of memories and places I have been to rather than a way to be fake to get the likes I desire but I do get into the mindset that I need to fit this box to be considered a woman for social media. I also love to use it as a place to post opinions and share activism accounts and I know that not everyone will agree with it but it is having that mindset of thinking that I could help someone today and that is more important than losing a couple of followers. I will never be an Instagram girl and that is something that sometimes diminishes my confidence and more awareness should be brought on a topic like this as people’s mental health are being affected by this. You have to remember the fact that it is your account and your life, no one else’s. Be authentically you and keep looking at your social media profile and question, is this truly me?
Be authentically you and keep looking at your social media profile and question, is this truly me?
Who has inspired you most in your creative processes?
Some of my biggest inspirations have been designers that break the rules to create rebellious pieces of work. David Carson is someone who I have admired for a while with his very expressive work. I also have a growing love for Chris Ashworth and his design processes of adding this raw atmosphere through expressive typography layouts and image treatment. I have also been inspired by collage artists such as Raphael Vicenzi. I have always admired this subversion of fashion magazines to create something with a grunge character but still have this elegance to show feminine does not just have to be clean and slick. But overall many collage creatives inspire me as collage is such an amazing art form that can have so many meanings and narratives that it never fails to amaze and inspire me.
Do you have any creative projects in the works we should keep an eye out for?
I have just finished working on an editorial project for university called ‘Other’ where I am talking about how companies use design to gender-wash successfully in a world where the new generation of women are taught that we are now ‘equal’ in society. It is a very exciting project in showing how powerful design can be for the wrong reasons and how we can be aware of this and focus on design for the good. I wanted to showcase confidence and anger for women who won’t stand for this manipulation in a society where we are taught we are ‘equal’. I am currently working on getting the production going on some prints for this publication so keep an eye out for that.
As a graphic designer, what/who would be your dream person/company to work with?
To work with Chris Ashworth would be a dream. Just to be taught how he produces such beautiful layouts and typography experimentations would mean everything. His work is truly admirable.
Who is your favourite feminist icon?
It probably would be Ashley Frangipane aka Halsey. I have always admired her music and what I love about her is that she does not set a barrier of what people should talk and sing about, they open up on subjects that are shunned away in society. I also love how they have brought out a poetry book, being even more open about gender identity, sexuality, fertility and more and her current make-up brand, about-face, celebrates this individual identity and unique expression which is missing in the make-up industry so I have huge respect for them.
What is a saying/quote you live by?
Personally I live by Van Gogh’s quote ‘Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high, then life seems almost enchanted after all’. I live by this because from my interpretation of it I see it as when life can become really overwhelming and all you see is the negative, look at it from a perspective of the stars and space and the beauty we have been given. You begin to appreciate it a bit more and understand your stress is nothing compared to the vast world of possibilities that you have waiting for you in the future.