Today we’d like to introduce you to Sunshine Acid.
Sunshine, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I moved to LA in June 2019 to create art in the culturally rich landscape of the West Coast and for the challenge of expanding my creative potential. I grew up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in the 90’s, before the internet, where art was folk, culture was yokel, and network TV or radio was your only means of connecting with the outside world. I spent most of my time in nature, using my imagination and reading lots of books. I was taught to be observe and be aware of my surroundings, to recycle-reduce-reuse, thanks to my environmentally conscious Dad.
After high school, I moved to Milwaukee for college, and after graduating in 2011, I co-founded an all-ages DIY art space in my neighborhood called Cocoon Room. It was an ever-evolving funhouse containing a vintage shop and communal art space where we held classes, workshops and community events, and we would have gallery nights and shows featuring local and touring acts. It was there I started my first business selling vintage; I’ve always had a knack for thrifting and had been collecting items for years.
I have an affinity for history, and the strange and unusual, and I’m drawn to statement pieces, so becoming a photographer and stylist was necessary to showcase these pieces I wanted to sell. While enlisting my friends as models, I started shooting editorial style photos to promote the business, which opened up a door for my love of capturing people and moments in time. The Cocoon Room is where the name Sunshine Acid was born. My mom had always told me she wanted to name me ‘Sunshine’ but my father would object, and the ‘Acid’ is my nod to the psychedelic counterculture and drug-induced mental expansion born in the 1960’s, having a pivotal role in the liberation of human minds, offering a glimpse to the source within, and our connection to the universe.
While operating Cocoon Room, I had simultaneously been working a day job as a Cardiovascular Technologist at a large trauma hospital. One day, I had a spiritual awakening about the trajectory of my life and feared what might happen if I didn’t follow my heart. Shortly thereafter I quit my job to pursue being an artist full time. It took me a bit of time to find my footing in this new life; I worked as a seamstress for a year for a friend’s clothing company called The Mini Classy, where I was constructing streetwear and basics for kids.
I was also photographing artists and musicians in the city, styling them with my vintage and collaborating on conceptual ideas for shoots and videos. Then I started art directing and costuming for music videos and short films using all secondhand props and wardrobe. I fell in love with working in film, and over the next few years, that was my primary focus. I love being in art production side of things and I feel my resourcefulness and keen eye are invaluable tools. My decision to move to LA was in part due to the lack of opportunity where I was living. It was hard to find work in the creative realm that wasn’t commercial or clique, so I felt it was the right time to relocate. I came here to work in the film industry, expand my body of work and see my art practice evolve.
Over the past seven months of living here, I have worked for numerous production companies as an art director, set dresser, painter, driver, art assistant, costume assistant, BTS photographer, PA and MUA. Versatility has been my key to success. I also realize how important it is to set aside time to work on personal projects, and so I have lots of plans for upcoming projects in the new year.
Great, 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?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. Growing up I was the youngest of four kids and was raised by my single dad. My mom struggled with addiction her whole life and ended up leaving when I was pretty young. My dad had to shut down his own business to take care of us, so we were poor for a while. I always remember having what I needed to get by but feeling a little lost at times. I believe things happen for a reason and I wouldn’t change anything, but I did lack the support and encouragement of my natural abilities, which is why it took me a little longer to find my path. Alas, it found me.
I’ve always been an artist and an empath. I’ve navigated a lot of difficult circumstances to get to where I am now and I am proud of myself for the things I’ve overcome. My struggles now consist mainly of the stress in finding the next freelance job and staying self-motivated.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Sunshine Acid is my artist moniker, but it is who I am. My real name is Amanda Mills but I only go by that for legal purposes. I am a Tetrachromat and Jack of many trades. I desire to create meaningful, socially conscious art that encourages my viewers to think outside of themselves, to ponder with curiosity the realities I create. I like to collaboratively conceptualize ideas with artists to create engaging content, based on their inner being and how they want to present to the world.
Each of us has a unique story and soul expression. I love taking portraits as they are a forever memory of a split second in time + space. Through the medium of photography, I want to give the loudest representation to POC/LGBTQIA folx, and Womxn, as these are the ones who have been historically marginalized, stereotyped and minimized by society.
My work involves a lot of experimentation with light and texture, and I enjoy pushing the boundaries of traditional photography. There is something so wonderfully mysterious about human existence.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Keeping a positive attitude is crucial, I think that we attract what we think about, so I try to really harness where my thoughts go and keep my eyes on enjoying the process and remembering that I am doing what I love.
- Rates vary from project to project, contact for more information. Now booking for photoshoots, art direction, styling, and brand collaborations
- Website: www.sunshine-acid.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @sunshine_acid
All photos by Sunshine Acid