Amber Ozols // Alumni Q&A
What have you been up to since graduating from the program?
Keeping a service industry job while creating as much new work as possible. My portfolio is entirely based on how much time I’m able to put towards it. I have made room for a small studio area where I am able to focus entirely on creating pieces without too many distractions. Sidebar: airplane mode is responsible for 80% of my workflow.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Lately I’ve been starting my days at 5:00am, waking up, finishing breakfast, and actually starting to work by 6:00am. My studio is at home, I should mention.
The last few months have been aimed at creating work for fine art exhibitions, so most of that time was spent painting. Other days would consist of the detail work (cutting cardboard corners to protect pieces, ordering bubble wrap, stretching new canvases, updating website/social media, etc). My work day ends between 3-6pm. Also, every day I go out of the house to do something active for 1-2 hours.
Doing everything for yourself means doing everything by yourself most of the time. Find a good podcast. Make yourself go outdoors.
What stands out in your mind as a highlight of your time here at Sheridan?
The biggest highlight came very late in my time at Sheridan. Late as in one of the absolute last classes of 3rd year, when we had the option of coming into our last class to have a teacher look at our current work and give feedback going into 4th year. The class was small in size that day.
I had not slept much that week, I didn’t enjoy the outcome of some of my work, I was looking forward to the end of term, and I had wine at home. My exhaustion turned into unfiltered honesty and told this professor (with my website up on screen and work on the table in front) that I wasn’t happy with pursuing art and didn’t feel great about going into 4th year. He calmly dismissed my mood, looked at my work and asked which pieces I did like. I picked maybe 2 pieces. He said “then just do more of that, and don’t do anything other than that”.
Until that time we had all been given the same assignments and parameters, and I had allowed the Sheridan cabin fever to set in and didn’t make work I was happy with.
Being out of school means far less eyes (and opinions) on your work. It means a lot of doubt, and a lot of forced discipline. Doubt sets in every, let’s say, 15-20 seconds; it’s like living with an arrhythmia. Make work you like, and don’t do anything other than that.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue an education and career in illustration?
(I’d ask them again if they really want to. I’m half kidding. )
When the praise is high, and a blockbuster film comes out about creatives, it’s easy to want to pursue being creative as a career. Finding something significant for yourself in art, however, can take a while, and some teachers/bosses/Humans of Authority can be more helpful than others. Do research on your own, find mentors, follow artists you like, keep reminding yourself of why you like the pieces you like, make work for yourself. Do not hang on to every word from anyone for more time than it is considered to be “constructive.”