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Meet Amanda Kaufman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Kaufman.

Hi Amanda, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am a completely self-taught artist based in Los Angeles. I have lived back and forth between Los Angeles and Mexico my whole life never really fitting into one setting over the other. I have grown to use the struggle with my identity as the source of strength and motivation in my artwork. I have been healing by painting portraits of women that look like me.

Painting these mystical portraits of women of color helps me remember that being different is my power, and it has been the way to erase the Eurocentric beauty standards that have been etched into my psyche. My struggles with identity started very young. Growing up with a strong Jewish influence from my father’s side and a Catholic background from my mother’s made for intense confusion, to say the least.

My grandmother, born blonde and blue-eyed, provided the influence for my style of drawing and painting. She painted nude women. That taught me how to see and reproduce the beauty of femininity in paintings which is something that I would later emulate when I began to paint. However, I have realized that beauty was only presented to me as a white woman by a white woman. As I began to start my own artistic journey, I realized that I had a vision of what women were supposed to look like and I didn’t fit that idea. I started painting women with no faces so that any woman could relate to my paintings. From there, I started painting women in colors other than skin tones so that there was no woman that would feel excluded by my work. If you told Amanda from 6 years ago she’d be here now, she’d never believed it. I believe in empowering one’s self and building community. At the very least, I want my art to help facilitate that.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle had been myself. In fact, it took up until a couple of years ago to start referring to myself as an artist. I had held myself back because fear took over so easily. Being a 37-year-old pursuing an art career instead of a family or a more traditional lifestyle is a challenge, not having a mentor or creative friends venturing into the unknown and being surrounded by very practical people made me question my choices daily. These thoughts influenced my struggle with putting myself out there as an artist. I often shied away from talking about myself or my art. I even spent a year doing things alone like taking myself to dinner, bars, and concerts. What I began to realize was that by putting myself in a position to be uncomfortable it made it easier to confront obstacles head on. I am no longer the person afraid of speaking up or making moves. I am now no longer afraid of my own shadow.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I started painting with watercolors and acrylic and have recently started working digitally. The more work I have gotten as a professional artist the more I have had to lean into learning the digital side of things. I started out painting for myself; using painting as a form of therapy. A friend saw my work and encouraged me to share my work with others as a way to gain traction as a working artist. I now work from my home studio in L.A. I spend most of my spare time painting, whether for myself or commissioned work for clients. I have been lucky enough to have met some incredible musicians that have used my artwork. I’ve designed logos, illustrations for books and have presented at countless art shows spanning from LA to NY.

Covid has made it a bit hard to collaborate, but I am still working just as hard nonetheless. I have been told my style is recognizable. I love painting people and adding a spacey mystical twist on them. Since leaning into my power, I have started adding third eyes and sometimes four eyes to my faces. This potent source of wisdom which has guided me towards my creative pursuits has now manifested itself into my work. Knowing that my artwork resonates with someone is my biggest accomplishment. Hearing that my artwork makes them feel something speaks volumes to me. This is what keeps me going. It has been healing for me and now it heals others.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Recently I applied for and was accepted into a competitive artist-in-residency program in the beautiful city of Puebla, Mexico. I had let fear hold me back in the past, and now it was time for me to actualize my dreams. I was finally ready to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. I was able to fully immerse myself in my craft. I took a risk in losing my job and apartment and was surprisingly met with incredible support from everyone. I realized, when you fully believe in yourself, the people around you will show up.

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