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  • Noelle Wilcox

Interview with Amelia Wise


Describe your typical week.

I have a day job at a local health food store part time to pay the bills so Monday - Wednesday I am there, peddling supplements to the masses. I really enjoy my work there and my ability to work part time and be able to ask off to travel makes it a perfect fit for my art practice and lifestyle. Thursday is my home upkeep day, chores and errands and what have you. After that I spend my weekend with my cats, coffee and sketchbook around the house or in my studio. I have a lot of projects going at once so I can mix things up, keep a momentum going if I get stuck on one I can move to another. I have also picked up hoop dancing so I’ve been doing that in my downtime and on breaks to keep from sitting too long and to get my blood flowing. Sunday is grocery and meal prep day so I can have food to eat through the week and keep from spending money on eating out. Lots of my development in my practice recently have been learning how to save money and keep the quality of life I desire. It allows me to save for the big trips I look forward to throughout the year. 

Describe your influences.

I draw a large majority of my creative influence from curated digital sources like Colossal and Juxtapoz. I go here to see what is new in art around the world today and I find these relevant to my work and interests as they are more alternative contemporary art forms, like street art and digital illustration. Instagram is another resource that shouldnt be overlooked for any kind of creative person today, for both the ability to find inspiration for any media and to share your own work. I follow many artists through Insta that are low-brow and pop surrealist that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise due to my geographic location as well as availability of published media. Aside from digital sources I find my muses in my friends, my music, and in my surroundings. My work combines themes of natural spirituality and duality with illustrative figures and narratives so I spend time as much time in the natural world as I can. I’m a huge movie buff and films like the work of Hiyao Miyazaki, Tim Burton, and Wes Anderson have been very influential as well. 

Where is your studio, and what does it look like?

My house was built in 1905 and in that time it was common to build a sitting room at the front of the house to welcome guests into that was somewhat separate so that they didn’t have to walk through the rest of your home. I have built my studio in this room and it is working out quite well. There are three large bay windows that allow for lots of natural light to showcase my menagerie of printmaking, pagan and library paraphernalia. My studio is a reflection of my creative practice and the rest of my life; everything blends into the other and comes together to make a quirky and colorful whole. I have only recently attained the order I wish for it to be a working studio, having shelving for all of my printing supplies and tables for my screen printing press and inking station. I still need to figure out a drying rack and storage for my larger work but, for now, I’m quite happy with my set up and I’ll figure the smaller things out as I go. 

How do you find materials and resources to make work?

For now I am subsisting off of my large collection of paper I accrued during my time in college to print on, but for things like matrixes and ink I go to my local art supply store. My other body of work that is comprised from recycled/trashed materials comes from whatever I can get my hands on that I find relevant or thought provoking. I have a large collection of National Geographic’s from the 60’s that was given to me I am making a collage zine from, pulling imagery and quotes and adding my own hand written thoughts and poems. Local publications are a great resource too, like our Leo in Louisville as it is free and new every week. 

How do you balance your art practice with other jobs, art related or non-art related?

Balance is a tricky thing. I am working on dedicating at least two days of my week to my studio practice, but life is distracting! Discipline is a big theme right now and I am working on getting to my goal of having a part time job, part time studio practice in full effect. It has been much easier since I have quit my bar habit and become more of a home body. Keeping an art journal has been helpful and encourages me to make progress on my projects every day, even if it is just in the conceptual and planning aspects. It’s really easy to let the grind of life take you out of your creative place, finding tools to keep you motivated and inspired is key, as well as keeping in touch and working with other artists! I miss the collaborative think tank that was my college art program but it makes me look forward to Print conferences to learn and share new ideas. 

What opportunities for professional development have been most helpful to you?

So far being able to set up my own studio and begin to foster my own home practice has been a huge deal. I also set up my first gallery show last December featuring 8 local artists and learned multitudes about the practical side of showing work, like booking a venue and a band and hanging work in a garage with no prior lighting or hanging system or heat. Lots of learning and I ran on coffee, cigarettes and adrenaline for about 5 days but the turnout was fantastic and I made a lot of great connections. I look forward to putting together another show in the future with what I learned. 

What was more helpful earlier on in your career?

Attending print conferences such as MAPC or SGCI were the most inspiring and influential experiences and I would recommend anyone who is interested in printmaking to do the same. From attending demos of new and old processes, seeing work from printmakers and fiber artists from all over the country, and interacting with other working artists and learning how they are making their own practice work with balancing life and work and art is really pivotal in creating your own path and lifestyle in the arts. It is what inspired me to pursue my dream of having my own studio and creating a traveling press (which I am still working on).

What does your research process look like before or during a project?

Lots of saved images, concept sketches, and notes that come together to be the final work. If I am making about a specific topic or location I try to visit that place as often as I can, either physically or emotionally, so that I can let it spill out through me and into my work. I tend to go in bursts of inspiration, which is why I usually have so many projects going at once. I am working on that discipline I was talking about earlier to be able to grind through without that ‘creative divine’ inspiration.

Can you share about how you go about putting your art into the world?

I share almost all of my work on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. I also have a zine project that I hand out to strangers at different events having to do with the work, my ‘Sister You Are Welcome” zine from the Women’s March on Washington being an example of this. I hope to do more of this work in the future. I also am working on being able to screen print out of the back of my SUV while traveling so that I can make work at small pagan and music festivals. I don’t really see my work hanging in a gallery, though I’m not opposed to the idea. I feel like it will be more at home in hands and on bodies. That’s the idea I’m moving forward with for now.