“Paint more,” advises Amandalynn, whose vibrant murals brighten the streets of San Francisco. Though her work appears in cities around the world, the NorCal-based artist is especially fond of the place she calls home, where her work is splashed liberally across building facades in Oakland, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco.
A collaborative artist to the core, Amandalynn has spent over two decades working alongside San Francisco’s graffiti community. Her work steeps the city in lush botanicals and feminine magic, providing a brief escape from crude, masculine architecture and urban anxiety.
In Today's Q+Art Interview…
Amandalynn discusses the importance of keeping a sketchbook, celebrating the beauty of life, and why she will never stop painting on big walls.
Which books, art-related or otherwise, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Amandalynn: Their own sketchbook, filled with thoughts, ideas and other artists' contributions.
Which cultural concepts, themes, or philosophies inform your work?
A: Find beauty everywhere.
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
A: I am incredibly fortunate that I get to have dinner often with my favorite artist to dine with, Lady Mags.
What are you trying to express with your art?
A: I try to celebrate the beauty of life, nature, and the magic in between.
What do you wish you learned in art school but weren’t taught?
A: How to do my taxes.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?
A: Best Advice: Paint for the love of painting. Worst Advice: Stop painting on that wall.
What's your biggest barrier to being an artist?
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
A: I make sure to take time every day to check in with myself, either on a long walk in the forest or doing yoga, or both. And I don’t sleep a lot.
What does generosity mean to you as an artist?
A: Giving your knowledge, craft, and inspiration freely.
What does success mean to you as an artist?
A: Leaving the world a more inspiring place than before you arrived.
What role does the artist have in society?
A: To challenge, inspire, and engage.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
A: Stripping an outdoor [Anthony] Caro sculpture with aircraft paint remover for two days.
If you had to pick one, would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist? Why?
A: Historically significant, because that means that someone somewhere was inspired enough by what I did to want to remember me.
What role should money play in the art world?
A: Money should support the creation of more art.
What’s your relationship with money?
A: I work really hard, I am pretty good at making money, and I am really good at spending it.
How do you deal with the ups and downs of the market?
A: It is all part of the ride.
Have you ever turned down an opportunity? Why?
A: Yes, I now know that if someone is not treating me with respect, it is always OK to walk away from an opportunity.
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
A: I have some big murals in the works for 2022, as well as a two-woman show with my painting partner, Lady Mags, titled Wildflowers at 111 Minna [Gallery] opening March 2022 and a solo show and mural installation at Distinction Gallery in Escondido opening June 11, 2022.
What do you do to maintain your mental health?
A: Paint big walls.
What do you dislike about the art world? How would you change it if you could?
A: I dislike that so many artists feel the need for approval by social media and popularity status. It really cripples a lot of creative energy. I think the only way to change it is to turn off our phones and create more.
Is there a specific time you recall feeling marginalized by the art world?
A: I get told “no” a lot in my life and career. It has made me a much stronger person and very creative at figuring out how to turn a “no” into a “yes.”
How does your geographical location affect your work and/or success?
A: I have found that I am most inspired when I am in the forest, so that is where I live.
Please share with us a real-life art-world horror story.
A: Well as a muralist, I have run into pretty much every weird kind of experience. I don’t know if I would call them horror stories, but I have had to deal with human feces on more than one occasion when painting walls in San Francisco.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
Want to be featured in Q+Art? Email email@example.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.