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Meet Melyssa Amann

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melyssa Amann.

Melyssa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, my exposure to art was very limited to fine art. I took a painting class at a very early age and realised that I had a natural inclination to create. Unfortunately, everything society told me was that I wouldn’t be able to make it as ‘just an artist’, and so I pushed myself towards STEM and away from the starving artist narrative. I concentrated in science and math throughout high school because I was so intent on becoming a surgeon.

I continued teaching myself how to paint and draw on the side, telling myself it was just a hobby but no matter how hard I tried, the art kept becoming my primary focus and the highlight of my school life. At 16, I finally decided that I would never be happy unless I pursued a creative career and I owe that decision to my art teacher Declan Tam who showed me that there were other ways to be an artist outside of just fine art.

I went on to study Art for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination at 6th form level as a segway into tertiary education, during which I created my first mural and curated a portfolio that would earn me a scholarship at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I enrolled at SCAD in 2016 to pursue a degree in Industrial design but I quickly changed my interest to major in Illustration. Since then, my work has been featured in the 2017 SCAD Drawing Works exhibition and I have had the honor of working with two local restaurants within the last year to create large scale murals for their dining room walls. I am now finishing the last quarter of my BFA with a minor in Scientific Illustration.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
An ongoing struggle for me has been finding my niche in the Illustration world, or what some would call ‘style’. I still wouldn’t say I’ve fully honed in on a specific style as I like to explore different ways of creating my work, although I’ve found a comfortable spot in editorial projects. The one constant for me has been my passion for portraiture and realism. Faces intrigue me and I think that the subtle nuances that come with creating a portrait are the most beautifully challenging thing that I do and am still trying to master.

Another struggle has been to keep consistency in creating personal work. An artist’s work never ends. The grind never stops. I work in an extremely competitive field and any time I slack off, my competition keeps getting better. This year will be a huge turning point for me in being better at this.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I am an Illustrator specialising in realism channeled towards portraiture, editorial and commercial work. My main concentration is Editorial and Publication design for magazines and books but I also create cover art for albums, menus, posters, T-shirts, tattoo designs, and murals. I incorporate motion into some of my work to bring the artwork to life and add another dimension of experience.

Supplementing my digital work with my upbringing in traditional art techniques, I use a more painterly style in rendering. I am most proud of my attention to detail when it comes to my work, often working, and reworking a piece until it’s closest to my standard of perfection. The best thing for me to hear is someone questioning if my illustration is a photograph. I think that my realism work sets me apart from others.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Everything that I’ve experienced is the reason I am where I am today. However, if I could change anything I would have made art my primary focus much earlier. The STEM subjects I was so devoted to, I now see as noise and distraction from what I should have been focusing on all along. I also would minor in Graphic Design because the skills I am currently trying to teach myself in that program are fundamental and can apply to almost every creative field.

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Image Credit:

Adam Wyatt

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