This Week from Lisa Congdon: Artist Interview - Amy Ruppel

by Lisa Congdon


Hello Everyone! Happy Monday.

Starting today, I'll be mixing some artist interviews into my Monday posts. Today I'm talking to the prolific and incredibly talented Amy Ruppel of Portland, Oregon. Amy and I met and became good friends in 2005 via the Internet art and design world. We now visit each other regularly in our respective cities and share many adventures that tend to focus around three of our mutual loves: art, food and music. This November, Amy and I will have our first joint show in the gallery at Rare Device . I could not be more thrilled.

Most of you recognize Amy for her iconic modern encaustic paintings and graphic design, for which she has become well known over the past five years. But what many of you might not know is that Amy has far reaching artistic talent and has recently taken a turn in her work to more realistic and very dark paintings of animals and birds. The juxtaposition between her encaustic work and her recent painted work is striking and shows her incredible versatility as an artist and illustrator. I'll be sharing some of those paintings with you throughout the interview.


Me: Amy, how old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Amy: In my early 20s, actually. I always drew and painted, and liked it, but my real dream was to be a scientist and work on The Calypso with the Cousteaus.

Me: That must be why you are so drawn to nature and animal imagery! Did you study art in school or did you study science?
Amy: After taking many science classes, I needed some electives, so I took Printmaking. Art sucked me right back in... I switched my major, and graduated with a degree in Fine Art-Printmaking from the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (now Peck School of Arts ). I had the best professors, all from the Tamarind Institute . They were old school. Lithography was done using stone, and only stones. I loved that.


Me. Cool!! I am curious how many hours a week you spend making art or working on your art business?
Amy: I spend roughly 30 hours on a regular basis, 60+ hours when I have a show or online coming up the next week. I have finally gotten down the ratio of what makes me happy, as far as how much time to spend at the studio and at home. Only took 9 years to figure that out... whew.

Me: Ha! I know you love to get up early. How does this effect your creative work?
Amy: I am a morning person. I love watching the sun come up as I get my Stumptown latte, and am greeted by smiling baristas who always ask what I'm making or doing that day. Gets my gears going. Plus, it's so quiet in the morning... your thoughts can go far.


Me: I know you are working on some cool new stuff, and I want people to know a little about it!
Amy: Yes, I am currently working on a series of acrylic paintings entitled "Birds That Are Mean" for a show called The Manor of Art here in Portland. Each of 100+ artists gets a room to do WHATEVER we want with. Mine will be dark and brooding, but lovely. Hopefully! I will be collaborating on a painting or two with Evan B. Harris for this as well.

Me: That is so cool. I know you do a lot more than make fine art. You are also an illustrator. What are your dreams for your art and illustration career?
Amy: My dreams change everyday. Today I was thinking I might start a zine based on some old characters of mine, Lilac & Rot. And then some days I want to open a food cart that serves only pancakes. I guess I just live day by day and don't really have a goal, except to be happy and to make people happy with whatever it is I create.


Me: That's what I love about you, Amy! Can we talk for a minute about what/who are your greatest influences?
Amy: Illustrators, for sure. I met some of my faves at an Illustration Conference back in 2000: Brad Holland , Anita Kunz , Gary Baseman , Joe Sorren ... Meeting them and seeing what normal people they were made my own desire of becoming an illustrator seem feasible. Especially since one of them was rather tipsy and telling stories that I could relate to. Over the years, the internet has filled my vision with endless ideas, having instant access to the work of so many artists and crafters out there. And of course, Scandinavian and mid century designs and illustrations are always in the back of my mind as I'm creating anything. My art heroes change every day.


Me: Isn't it cool how we live in an age when we are exposed so many amazing creatives that our heroes change everyday? I love that. I know there are lots of folks out there for whom you are a hero. What are the three most important things you want people to know about you as an artist and/or your work?
1) I do this for a living, but I don't feel like it's a job, because I love it.
2) My main goal is to put a smile on your face.
3) I like when people come visit me at my studio. It's all clean and full of loads of eye candy!

Me: Awesome. Okay, last question: What do you believe in?
Amy: I believe in traveling to all ends of the earth to absorb and be influenced by nature – flora and fauna, human and iconic – and all it's boundless desires.

Me: Word. Thanks, Amy! See you next week!

Check out Amy's State Bird Print collection for sale here , and her State Animal collection here . Really amazing stuff!!

Posted by Lisa Congdon

Jan Halvarson


Chrisy said...

Great interview showcasing a talented artist...I particularly like the animal paintings...encaustic married with the bold graphics makes for a powerful statement...congrats to you both...

kate endle said...

Love the new work Amy!

Jutta said...

I absolutely love the mean birds!

Margie Oomen said...

I have one of amy's happy bird pieces above my desk but I am really smitten with the mean birds. Too funny that this coincides with my daughter returning from the far north doing population surveys and tagging some "mean" geese. She will get a kick out of these.

Cathy Nichols Art said...

I love Amy's encaustic work, but I must say, the "Mean Birds" series really cracks me up. There is so much artwork out there (mine included!) that romanticizes the 'sweet' winged creatures. It's very witty to reconfigure them as meanies.