Meet Amber Vittoria, a Freelance Visionary and Painter
Bridging figurative and abstract art as she takes collectors through the looking glass of womanhood nuances.
At 32-years old, Amber Vittoria is a visionary painter and poet whose passion for design and illustration has continued to exceed the physical boundaries of what was possible in both figurative and abstract art.
Her vibrant portfolio of work depicts abstract ribbons of color and joyous words, which speak to the modern-day nuances of womanhood. However, Vittoria’s art career undoubtedly pre-dates the NFT boom, where she worked commercially as a graphic designer and art director for nearly seven years.
From designing an illustration for a book review on The New York Times to a residency at Facebook — where she was tasked with making artwork that helped advertise different female clothing brand initiatives — Vittoria always found a canvas to be able to leverage her pen and brush to, while occasionally playing around with her work in fine art and selling them as prints. But five and a half years ago, Vittoria’s entire world changed, as she took a leap of faith and transitioned full-time into freelancing.
In an exclusive interview with Hypemoon, Vittoria revealed that she always had the goal of slowly pivoting towards fine art, allocating “a bit more priority” to it within her practice. However, she confessed that she could never really figure out how to properly make that jump – until she was introduced to NFTs.
From there, the painter-poet began innovating towards something bigger than anything she had ever seen on canvas — Web3.
While Vittoria’s investment into the cryptocurrency space came as early as 2017, her initial immersion into NFTs began in February 2021, when she started selling her work as non-fungible tokens as a full-time freelancer.
Having minted a few pieces around that time, Vittoria explained that she still wasn’t entirely sure whether or not selling her work as NFTs was the right move for her – pointing to that period’s extremely high gas fees, asking individuals to invest $500+ (USD) into artwork right out of the COVID-19 pandemic and physically mailing art to strangers. After taking a pause and studying the space for a few months, she discovered OpenSea and the idea of “lazy minting.” Over the past year, Vittoria says the NFT marketplace has allowed her to “take a more serious approach” in selling her work as NFTs. Beginning her NFT journey on the digital art marketplace, MakersPlace, Vittoria minted and sold a few of her pieces.
“It was a little terrifying,” she admitted. “I definitely thought it would be a part of my practice — not something that I gave the most priority to at that time, just because it was so new.”
The waiting period during a mint, according to Vittoria, was also anxiety-ridden.
“As you’re waiting for something to mint and you see like $500 USD in ETH going away, but the item not actually minting yet, was kind of scary. It was also my first time in going through that process. It wasn’t something that I had initially thought would take over my life, but I’m really glad that it has — and to be able to hopefully build a space that is more equitable and decentralized for artists to be able to support themselves in their day-to-day selling artwork.”
Taking the Jump
Vittoria’s love for being able to melt two different ideas together — her work and her practice — followed her as she made her transition full-time into freelancing.
“That [love] always challenged me to think in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise think of myself for my own personal artwork,” she explained. The many benefits in advocating for a strong Web3, according to the painter, is an artist’s need for more immediate payment solutions. “I think the tough part — which I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking — is the invoice chasing, where we aren’t having to sit and wait for an accounting system to pay us. Clerical work was always the toughest part about being a freelancer.”
By embracing the underlying vision of what Web3 should be, Vittoria has been able to leverage current technology to open up new doors to individuals that love and want to collect her work — people she says she probably would never have interacted with in her life, but for this.
“I think [Web3] takes down the gatekeepers that existed in Web2, and allows for me to put myself out there and connect with collectors in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.”
From the moment she made that full-time transition, Vittoria says everything about her work changed.
“My work over the last few years has definitely evolved to feel more like ‘me,’ which is really exciting. I think Web3 gave me that privilege to be able to do that. When I was working freelance, my work would either be hand painted or drawn — or it would be digital, depending on what clients wanted. I’ve always played in both worlds, because both gave me joy.”
Her first step into this new world was determining whether to physically tie her prints to their digital counterparts. “The first few collections were fully digital,” she told Hypemoon. “I remember late last year asking people what their thoughts were on editions and people responded that they wanted one of one’s.”
However, Vittoria followed her heart, choosing to take her paintings and making editions of them — citing the ongoing weariness people still demonstrated about having physical pieces sent to them in the mail as a major factor in her decision.
“Editions allow people to become a collector of mine and part of this community that revolves around my artwork in a way that feels more accessible. Now, I do a lot of paintings that are editions, but to come back full-circle in doing more physical work, which I enjoy the most, has been really nice.”
Speaking to her own personal work, Vittoria emphasized that she has always enjoyed the physical labor the most. Specifically, “being off-screen and making things physically with her hands,” which she says has given her a lot of joy, and continues to allow her to determine how NFTs best fit within her work. Last February’s sale of the first few NFTs, according to Vittoria, were digital lead compositions of some of her paintings — “some folks got it, and others didn’t really get it. Some of them didn’t want to have a physical, and some just weren’t ready for the few editions that I made on MakersPlace. So, I paused for a bit.”
Joyous Colors of Abstraction
In August 2021, she picked things back up after studying what other artists had done to enter into the digital art space, finally settling on selling her works digitally as the easiest way for her to fully enter the space.
As the Web3-supportive community started to learn more about Vittoria’s work — and collect it — the painter slowly started to pivot away from the figurative work that she says took up much of her freelancing – entering into more “abstraction.” “This was something I was already doing for the last few years, but was very hesitant to make that full switch into abstract art, because my whole income was based upon my figurative work,” she explained.
She described that the “figurative-to-abstract kind of growth, as an artist grows,” was something that wasn’t unique to her, but something she “was very afraid to jump fully into.” Yet, those fears were subsided by the flood of encouragement and messages of support she began receiving from individuals who started to collect her work — helping her understand what “felt right” for her as an artist and what it meant to be successful following her jump into abstraction.
Changing the Narrative
Only 32, the visionary has experienced what it’s like to hustle — from one cold pitch to another — eventually garnering industry-wide collaborations alongside other industry-known visionaries such as Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia), Bobby Hundreds (The Hundreds / Adam Bomb Squad), and most recently — Coinbase.
Having previously worked at VaynerMedia as “one of the three full-time jobs [she] maintained prior to freelancing full-time,” Vittoria came to better understand NFTs by and through Vaynerchuk, whom she says is also how she met her now husband, David, who also worked at the company.
If there’s one thing to take away from the creative space right now, it’s that the narrative has certainly changed. For many millennials, growing up under the notion of “you’ll never make it as an artist or writer, because you have to be really good” is misguided and out of tune.
“When I was younger, I was very fortunate to have parents that very much believed that my younger brother and I could pursue what we love, because we could always get a part-time job,” Vittoria recalled. “We were raised that if you pursue what you love long-term in your life, that’s what’s going to bring you the most joy — for me, that was art.”
However, she also recognized her own “societal privilege” as having made her journey more easier than others, emphasizing that not everyone today is raised with those same family values and support.
“I grew up in a middle class family to help put me through college, which was incredible. I went to art school. I think these factors are important to acknowledge, which has made my journey probably easier than others. Before Web3, I did a lot of cold outreach, where I would just put myself out there and introduce myself as Amber and offer to collaborate. Slowly putting yourself out there is something I always advocate for, even if you don’t get a response.”
The Time Is Now for Women and Non-Binary Artists To Pull High-Level, Massive Sales
Indeed, the cross-section of fine art and NFTs have certainly provided for a warmer welcoming of conversations that have often kept us handicapped as a society — however, the pace in which these conversations are happening is quite slow. Vittoria believes that one of those conversations that needs to be had is that the highest selling artists in the traditional art world tend to all be men — dead or alive.
“If you look at historical lists, the majority of them are men. I remember sitting in our art classes and the majority of people in my classes were women — and I think that’s an odd comparison. For obvious reasons, we live in a society that was built that way.”
Looking at where we are in our drive to build out this vision for Web3, Vittoria says we are beginning to tout something entirely different.
“So many of us talk about how we want to change for the better or how we want to be more equitable, equal, and decentralized — and obviously, that’s going to take a long time. My hope is to start seeing women, female artists and non-binary artists pull these high-level, massive sales that men have historically pulled both in Web3 and in the traditional art world and just to see equity in terms of success amongst genders.”
But even then, some of the more difficult conversations that involve responses such as “well, I don’t see gender” — Vittoria has her own words of wisdom to offer.
“Well, you also don’t see air, but it exists,” she emphasized. “I think that it’s a conversation that has to be had, just because we all fall to it and live within the same society and same constructs. The more we talk about it, the easier it’ll be to figure out ways to improve upon it and change how we behave as a society. And it’s already starting to happen, which is incredible, because in any other space I’ve been in, you say something and you usually get silenced. It’s really nice to be in the space where we are hearing ‘okay, I may not agree with you, but I’m listening,’ and that’s how we can bridge those gaps together.”
Which Way is the “Right” Way?
In what appears to be an already oversaturated market, with artists emerging from everywhere at any given moment, Vittoria shared her advice to those women and non-binary artists who are also looking to build a name for themselves in a similar path of success.
“There’s no ‘one’ right way to be an artist. I think oftentimes we are painted as the struggling artist, which isn’t the case. I do, however, think you have to listen to who you are as a person. For me, that was working full time and freelancing until I could freelance full-time. For some artists, it’s just diving right into freelance and figuring it out of building a company as you go. For other artists, it’s working completely outside the industry and letting that inform their work and their personal time. So, I would say the best thing is to ask artists directly and see how they did it and what parts of their dream might fit in with you and yours. We have so much access to artists right now.”
And for those that do have their doubts, which comes natural in sharing such vulnerabilities with a world full of strangers, Vittoria reminds you and every artist out there of just one thing.
“This too, shall pass. The highs will pass, as will the lows. This is something that resonates with me and has gotten me through a lot in my life. It keeps you grounded when you’re kind of floating high, and then it gives you hope, when you are in the valleys.”
Vittoria’s latest NFT collection — “With What We Have” — dropped on August 19, in partnership with Coinbase NFT, containing a series of three one of one paintings by Vittoria. Each painting was in an edition of 30, where the poet described her new paintings as speaking “to both the life we have lived and the life we have yet to live.”
While her new NFT collection has since sold out, a Twitter post of hers last week teased that she is moving to Los Angeles and planning for both a huge 2023 edition drop, as well as a potential book, tethered to NFTs.
“Though we are always a work in progress, pausing to appreciate said progress is often overlooked for many of us.”
For this original interview and more news about blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and Web3, visit Hypemoon.com.