Interview: artist Amy Beager
The upcoming artist talks to Tempus about creative processes and the symbolism behind her work
Fluid, dynamic and rich with emotional layering, Amy Beager's work is as intense as it is gorgeous. A contemporary illustrator with a background in fashion design, she draws inspiration from all manner of reference points including fashion photography, classical paintings and neoclassical and funerary sculptures, abstracting them into swirling, vivid pieces brimming with energy.
As the comtemporary art world begins to take notice of Beager - her works are currently on display across the globe - Tempus sat down with her to discuss her creative processes, the symbolism behind her work and her hopes for the future.
How did you come to the contemporary art world and where did your signature style come from?
"I think it comes from a combination of instinct and experimentation which has developed naturally throughout my practice and experiences. Using a combination of innate habits, actions and characteristics during the painting process, alongside conscious and experimental ones. It has been a gradual process since my BA in Fashion design, where I learnt to develop my own drawing style through quick suggestive fashion illustrations.
"To then create detailed spec drawings of clothing and working with colour and texture during my womenswear design career. My work has progressed from illustration to contemporary fine art quite quickly since I began exhibiting my work in the summer of 2019. The global pandemic has meant that over the past year or so I have had plenty of time to focus on my practice without any other distractions."
What is your typical creative process?
"I usually reference an image as a starting point but the way the paint reacts and the painting process often directs the outcome of the finished painting. The shapes, colours and brushwork created during the process form a visual language and help to suggest a narrative. I start with a figurative sketch which will become the subject or subjects within the composition.
"Image references range from fashion photography to classical paintings, neoclassical sculptures and Funerary sculptures. I always take photos throughout the different stages of a painting, this helps me to look at the image as a whole and also at painterly details independently."
Are you ever stuck for ideas? If so, how do you break through that creative block?
"I look at other artists' work, listen to podcasts, and go for long walks. Some podcasts I have been listening to during my walks are; The Delphian Gallery, Artfully, Talk Art and The Artists Contemporary Podcast. If I’m not in the right mood to paint I don’t do it.
"I find that it is just counter productive and can be mentally quite stressful. There are always days when nothing is going right and its best to stop and start fresh the next day. There are so many other things to do as an artist other than actually making the work."
Has your background in fashion design (BA) informed your painting style at all? Or are they totally different worlds in your mind?
"They are totally different worlds however as touched upon previously, my fashion background will have informed my painting style for sure. Not only because of my enjoyment for drawing the female form, but also from the knowledge I have gained and things I experienced whilst working as a designer. Creating colour palettes for collections and creating texture through fabrics are part of the design process and this knowledge has definitely influenced my work. It's such a luxury now to be able to mix any colour you desire with paint!
Research is a huge part of designing and I was lucky enough to travel a lot and experience things that have become subconscious references. References that I inevitably take from when creating and editing my work. Designing clothing is very similar to sculpture in that it is viewed from all angles. I think this has helped me to evaluate the balance of colour, texture and composition of my work as a 'whole' image."
What do you want people to take away from your work?
"I like to explore the emotional intensity and intimacy of love, something that I think many will be able to relate their own experiences to in different ways. The narrative is suggestive and open to the viewer's interpretation. However with paintings depicting figures, people often have a sense of recognition with the characters and I think people like to feel this connection. I like to think that if my paintings are successful then they are like film stills from a 'melodrama' or lovesong. Ideals of love that are suspended, dream-like, between the imagined and reality."
Your pieces are highly sought-after and have spanned the globe, entering collections from Canada to Taiwan. How does it feel to know that your work has such broad international appeal?
"Thank you, that is very flattering! Of course I am thrilled to have collectors and interest internationally. I haven't exhibited my work overseas yet and it's something that I am hoping to do in the future. The power of social media and also working with galleries that have a global audience has enabled me to reach those collectors, which I am very grateful for. "
Tell me about Mnemosyne. This year Women's History Month took on an added significance and poignancy following some horrifying news stories, while the exhibition itself is raising funds for Refuge amid a crisis in domestic abuse resulting from lockdown. How would you like to see artists and galleries promoting change in the long term?
"Art can often aid discussion surrounding difficult and sensitive social issues. As an artist I think it is important to not shy away from the nuances of the work you are creating. It's suggestive nature means that a painting can have a totally different meaning from one viewer to the next based on their own personal experience.
"I think it's only a positive thing if it can open up debate around certain social issues. Galleries and artists that are donating to causes as part of the sale of art is a great way to help. I also think it is important for Institutions such as; museums, public galleries and community art projects, to provide access to art for everybody and engage with specific social groups."
What future projects are you looking forward to?
- 'The Torches Burn Bright' Solo Exhibition with Offshoot Arts and Artsy- April 8th 2021
- Group Exhibition with Four You Gallery and Artistellar in June 2021
- Artist Residency at ‘Clovermill’ in The Netherlands in August 2021
- Group Exhibition with Liliya Art Gallery in August/September 2021
- Solo Exhibition with Wilder Gallery in October/November 2021