Artist Allie Snyder got in touch with me shortly after I moved to DC as she lives in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia). It’s been fun to watch her grow as an artist over the past few years, and even though we’ve never met, although I’m sure we will at some point, she’s the kind of girl you feel like you already know. Her honest writing on her blog is refreshing.
What she says about her work:
I am drawn to the subtlety of barely-there colors and the glimmer of hues hidden between whites and grays.
My work is about remembering — exploring our histories preserved as subtle, evolving memories that manifest as a flash of light, a shadow, a smile, juxtaposed against the fragmented, frozen world of photographs — abstracted moments that construct a concrete visual history of one’s past.
I am most recently exploring a more universal approach to memory through landscape and abstraction. Continuing my thread of distortion and blurring, I depend on layers of paint and wax to convolute my images — a collage of invention and personal experience, creating a dialogue between the fog across an open field and the haziness of my own memory.
I asked Allie a few questions about her work:
Do paint each painting one by one, or come up with a concept for a series of paintings?
I tend to work in mini-series, of groups of two or three pieces at a time. I arrive at many of my pieces by experimentation — new textures, mediums and hues. I like working in groups of two and three to explore and develop these new ideas, which then often serves as a launch pad for my next mini-series of work.
Do you ever look at a canvas and can’t bring yourself to paint? Have artist’s block? What do you do to get out of it?
One of my favorite quotes is by Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” When I had a steady bi-weekly pay check, I had the luxury of painting when inspiration struck. Now that my livelihood depends on my productiveness in the studio, I realize I have to be much more strict with myself as an employee, putting in my time in the studio even if I’m not feeling so inclined.My “artist’s block” tends to arrive when I let other aspects of life interfere. I’m in middle of planning a wedding, and my fiance and I are in the early stages of starting our own grassfed, organic livestock farm. I am trying to be a better multi-tasker, but for now I tend to throw myself into each project 100% which tends to be rather inefficient.
To overcome these distractions, I begin each week with a green smoothie and yoga class. I know it probably sounds cliche, but I need that time to renew my body, clear my mind, and re-focus on my goals for my career as an artist. After that start to my work week, I tend to just force myself in front of the easel and push through any block I might have. I let Monday’s be my fun days, when I start a new mini-series and experiment. I blast Spotify (currently the new Jay-Z album has been playing in my studio non-stop), dance around a little, and get excited that I’ve been so blessed to call this my job.
At what point did you realize you wanted to be an artist as your career?
It was my senior year of college, as I prepared for my senior thesis and spent close to 50 hours each week in my studio. There was a moment when I realized I should probably be tired of this — but I wasn’t. I cherished that sacred time in my studio each and every day, even the (sometimes harsh) critiques by my professors, and knew this was it for me.
Self-doubt is a nasty fellow that rears his head often — I think it’s normal for most artists, especially as my best friends are finishing Med school and buying houses. I worked in galleries and taught art classes for two years following college, in an effort to appease that doubt and satisfy my parent’s desire for a “real” job, all while painting on the side. It was an inspiring atmosphere working alongside artists and creative types, but I couldn’t fight the urge that I wanted it to be my work on those walls. When the opportunity arose to paint full-time, I knew I had to take it.
Biggest lessons you’ve learned through your work and business?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it is just that, a business, and I need to treat it as such.
I look at myself as an employee, making sure I put in my hours each week. It’s been an adjustment not having another job, or any other obligations anchoring my schedule, and it’s easy to lose that urgency to complete business tasks — especially the less enjoyable ones (shipping, bookkeeping, etc.). I’ve had to get much more disciplined throughout my work week, being very goal-oriented to complete my weekly to-do lists and treating myself with a bonus latte.
Best advice you’ve been given?
Do all that you can to never burn bridges, and follow up!
In my opinion, networking is the single greatest tool that has every young business owner must employ. But once those networks are established, the work is not over! Continue to build and strengthen genuine relationships. It is often as simple as just a quick e-mail, but I always make sure to follow up with my patrons. Social media is also invaluable to build friendships with fellow artists and other industry forces. Never discount any relationship — former employers, professors, clients. As your life evolves, always end things on good terms and keep in touch. I can’t begin to count how many opportunities have come about purely through these connections I have cultivated and maintained over the past few years.