Artist Profile with Amanda Seigel
Amanda Seigel is one badass artist. Born and raised in San Francisco by Jewish and Jamaican parents, she finds joy in a good latte, a good Star Wars marathon, a good meme, and a good living room dance session with her pet bird. She does prints and comics and zines and patches and beyond.
In the following interview, Amanda shares her thoughts on being a Black artist living, thriving, and fighting; honing her talent and creating culture from culture.
What inspires you as an artist and how did you begin your artistic journey?
It all started for me when I was in the first grade. My parents sent me and my sisters to a theatre and performing arts school for 8 years where we learned gymnastics, ballet, improv, tap dancing, choir, ballroom and a whole lot of other art forms. But the activities that had a lasting impression on me were mainly creative writing, ballet and visual art.
In high school I took more ballet classes but they ended up being way too expensive, so I just stopped going. The great thing about visual art compared to ballet was that it was free (and plus it didn’t involve any bleeding from pointe shoes, or crying from stretching).
Why did you choose printmaking as an art form?
Well, to me it seemed like the answer that was right in front of my face all along. I grew up wanting to be a writer, but all the time finding myself surrounded by cartoons and comic books. I grew up raised by a whole family of geeks and nerds, so printmaking seemed like the most natural progression for me. With linocuts in particular, the dramatic look and style of contrast reminds me a lot of comic book art.
Plus, the great thing about it is that you can make so many of one image. For me and all my grassroots work and protesting, that's so important! I view printmaking as the perfect activists' art form-- it's so much easier to hand out prints than oil painting. And growing up poor, I'm really mindful of how exclusive the gallery-type art world is, which is something I don't really ever see myself as being a part of. I want to make work all my friends and family can afford.
How would you describe your style?
If I had to put it bluntly: memes meets religious imagery.
My work is a complete reflection of my personality: self deprecating, a lil depressed and anxious, but also working my hardest not to give a fuck at the same time. The serious side of my work is inspired by Kehinde Wiley, the way he lifts up black folks into otherworldly spaces is so amazing.
Then there's the side of my work that tries not to take things too seriously, so I get a lot of my inspiration from millennial humor and memes, and from videos by the amazing editor Vic Berger in particular.
What drove you to begin developing a zine about self-care, and what effect do you hope it will have on your readers?
Being Black is hard. But being a Black woman is even harder. Identifying as female is difficult enough, but [then] realizing that it’s seen as a disadvantage [makes it worse]. I associate women with strength: being strong enough to hold up against all the abuse we put up with on the daily and strong enough to carry life within us.
Trans women and gender-nonconforming femmes deal with a whole lot worse. I wanted to make something that celebrates [their struggle], and to have the act of creating it be healing in itself. Building a sense of community with other people who have shared trauma and finding ways of navigating daily life with all this on our backs is exhausting.
There's travel guides for every destination on Earth, so why not make a travel guide for being a woman of color, and dealing with our unique troubles? I'd also want it to function as a guide to healing as well, and if it helps just one person, that's good enough for me.
Who are your favorite contemporary artists? Do you have a community of support from other women artists of color/is that something that is important to you?
It's definitely important to me, but unfortunately I haven't found my artists niche of WoC. I'm hoping this project would help me foster and grow that part of my life I'm missing.
I like to think I have myself a lil support group of art friends, but none of them are friends that I made in art school. They're more friends I met and made out of an art-setting and became close due to our cynical nature and the fact that we can't take art school seriously.
What is your creative process like?
Boring. I hate sketching, and I mainly just wait around until inspiration hits me. Once an image gets into my head and I can't get it out, I know it's a good one. I start drawing on the same piece I end with. Then I'll get out my handy dandy art reference photos and then the fun of carving begins.
Do you see creating art as a form of self care?
Absolutely! Art should be about healing for yourself first and foremost. A lot of my work starts out as completely personal, and if people like it, then that's great. But if they don't get my humor or the sarcastic point I'm trying to get across, I don't really care because it's not about their opinion of the work, but the making of it that matters to me. If there's no art you like, make the art you want to see and surround yourself with. There's no better self care out there like it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Use the Internet to your advantage. Don't be ashamed or too proud to get support from your friends and family. Don't see your mistakes as signs you aren't good enough; use them as starting points to learn something new.
Finally, where do you see your career as an artist in five or ten years?
Hopefully with a lot more prints and expanding into other forms. I want to explore different media, but I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to learning new things. I make excuses to not venture out of the comfort in familiar territory, so I hope to push my boundaries and master new media like collage and embroidery.
In about 5 or 10 years I'd want to walk into gift stores and see my work being sold-- Carissa Potter who created People I've Loved is my former mentor and also a big role model of mine. She's the ideal I strive for in terms of a successful art hustle.