Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Kressler.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Amanda. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always been fascinated with chairs. As a child, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I asked for an oversized velvet chair in the shape of a hand. It was my most favorite possession. That is until my next chair: a hanging hammock seat bolted into the ceiling of my bedroom. Coming from a family of antique dealers, I was destined for a life of creative jobs and entrepreneurship. I spent most weeks in the summer learning to restore furniture or selling at the Brimfield Antique Market. I continued down the path of a maker in high school and was constantly creating art of any kind including sculpture, installations, and interactive pieces.
I attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where I began studying interior design but it didn’t take long to realize that I yearned for a more hands-on approach to my artwork. Four years, countless sleepless nights, 5 chairs, 3 tables, and a product line later, I graduated Cum Laude with a BFA in furniture design.
After college, I decided it would be more beneficial to learn and gain experience in a working environment rather then going to grad school. In 2015, I began interning under furniture designer and welder, Vivian Beer. Working alongside an accomplished and passionate artist provided me with a hands-on learning environment and I have since progressed to become her studio assistant. Together, we have designed and fabricated museum pieces, public artworks, and custom furnishings displayed across the country. Vivian has become a mentor and friend exposing me to career opportunities, personal and professional connections, and infinite skills and knowledge. Most recently, I have begun teaching in the sculpture department at Massachusetts College of Art. It has been highly rewarding to share the experiences and techniques I have learned along the way.
As far as my own artwork and designs, lately, I have been working in a smaller scale to create products for the home including shelving and lighting. When I am not fabricating or teaching, I am avidly applying to residencies, creating proposals, and developing ideas and designs for larger pieces. Since moving to Somerville, I have immersed myself in the amazing art community and have become inspired to collaborate. I have many ideas, designs, and creations in the works with local artists that I can’t wait to share.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to becoming a successful artist/maker wasn’t meant to be easy and the challenges that come with it help to define you.
One of the hardest things for me is dedicating time to my artwork and myself. It’s a balancing act with needing a job to financially support myself, helping other artists fabricate their work, teaching, collaborating, maintaining relationships and social life, and finally making my own work. It comes down to priorities. I am a big advocate of detailed lists and calendars; they help me compartmentalize my thoughts and keep me motivated.
Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession is challenging but it has also helped me stand out. It’s hard to be overlooked or not taken seriously, but the competitor in me takes that as a challenge. Sometimes getting turned down or not accepted sparks your fire and drives you to do better.
My best advice for young women starting their creative journey is to be unforgivingly you. As a member of the LGBTQ community and a female in a male-dominated field, there have been times that I have tried to fit the mold or give people what they want and it is never worth it. Push boundaries, challenge people, and values, have an opinion and use it as inspiration. And don’t forget to save time for yourself.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Amanda Kressler Designs story. Tell us more about the business.
I believe design to be the connection between people and objects and how it makes them feel. The assumptions the brain makes based solely off aesthetics plays a large role in my work; why do we think angles are dangerous and hard? Why do we feel more comfortable if chairs have 4 legs? My work is created to push boundaries and change the auto-assumptions we make by challenging the communication between the user’s eyes and their brain.
Using geometric and angular forms, I create interesting and unique compositions that border between furniture and sculpture. Mainly working in metal, my work tends to look and feel hard when it is actually comfortable and functional.
My favorite pieces I have created are the Rocket Chair and Rocket Wife. A combination of hard and soft, these bold pieces are encaged by faceted forms to create a unique balance of comfort and aesthetic.
I enjoy doing custom commissions because of the ever-changing challenges they present. My problem-solving skills allow me to think creatively in situations and always result in a truly unique product. My most recent challenge has been the lack of physical space while living in Somerville so I have been creating display shelves and smaller furnishings. I typically enjoy working in larger scales but the limitations have given me a basis for new work I wouldn’t have created otherwise.
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Having Vivian Beer as my mentor has been the most important part of growing my career as an artist. Working alongside her has taught me invaluable skills and life lessons while giving me the opportunity to work on incredible projects. She has exposed me to her life as a successful artist and business owner and introduced me to her professional circles. Networking is incredibly important and also inspiring. I enjoy talking to artists and collectors because they have big ideas and opinions which can lead to new projects and collaborations. My advice is to put yourself out there and promote your work whenever you get the chance. Find someone whose work you admire and reach out to them.
- Website: www.amandakressler.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @akressler9
- Facebook: @amandakresslerdesigns