A multi-talented visual artist with a creative writing background, New Jersey’s Amy Paraskeva wants viewers to generate their own stories when they view her work. With Amy’s distinct, minimal, and impactful style, she was a Creative Career Center Ad Open Call Winner for Artrepreneur, online destination for creatives to find jobs, manage their own business or freelance careers, and get tips on how to succeed. Her bold, bright and modern images were chose to represent the campaign tagline “Artrepreneurs Start Here.”
Amy describes herself as “innovative, self-motivated, highly creative and what I lack in good jokes I make up in dorkiness.” Creative Careers by Artrepreneur Podcast Interviewer Brian Young spoke to Amy about the event that inspired her to transition from writing to visual art, her thoughts on creative entrepreneurship, and what she wants her art to say. Follow Amy @paraskeva.
Brian Young [00:00:01] Welcome to the Creative Career Center podcast series. I’m Brian Young, content creator for Artrepreneur’s Creative Career Center. In this episode we’ll be interviewing Amy Paraskeva, one of the winners of our Creative Ad Open Call. It’s very nice to meet you Amy, and welcome to our podcast.
Amy Paraskeva [00:00:15] Thank you. It’s nice to meet you as well.
Brian Young [00:00:19] Would you like to take a moment to tell us a little bit about yourself in terms of you being a creator?
Amy Paraskeva [00:00:24] Yeah! So I mean every artist has been doing this since they were younger, so I don’t want to say I’ve been doing this for so long, but I definitely consider myself a mixed media artist, sometimes with a concentration of photography which is what I won the open call for, but I definitely don’t want to take the title as a photographer since I do a little bit of everything.
Brian Young [00:00:54] I took a look at your art and absolutely love it. I think you’ve got some super great talent and we appreciate you submitting to the open call.
Amy Paraskeva [00:01:04] Thank you.
Brian Young [00:01:05] I wanted to just ask a couple of quick questions about you and your art. The first being how does your art reflect who you are or who you want to be?
Amy Paraskeva [00:01:16] I think, that’s actually a great question. I think that me being a mixed media artist kind of reflects the fact that I don’t like to stay in one style for too long. My color palettes being very bright, especially if I use like backgrounds with portraits or graphic design, I tend to use really bright colors and that’s kind of like a reflection of who I am on the inside. I’m very bright and very go-getter. I’m very adventurous but, when first meeting me, I’m not all these things right off the bat. You have to kind of dig deeper and find that person.
Brian Young [00:02:02] So there’s some layers to Amy, right?
Amy Paraskeva [00:02:06] Yeah.
Brian Young [00:02:10] What’s your absolute favorite thing to shoot or to photograph?
Amy Paraskeva [00:02:17] People. I just think that I’ve always thought that people have such an amazing story to tell and sometimes not everyone has the words to tell them. I actually started off as an English major prior to moving into the art realm more professionally, and my concentration was memoirs, so I could tell my own story. I also loved reading the stories of other people and that went hand-in-hand with documenting people’s faces and moments that were critical or in moments that were just kind of at peace and you saw these sayings and details that you probably would have never seen before. We don’t take too long to look at people. It takes like what, 10 to 20 seconds to judge somebody, but having to look at a portrait you kind of have to sit there and look at them and digest what you’re looking at.
Brian Young [00:03:34] And what is one of the greatest lessons that you’ve learned as an artrepreneur?
Amy Paraskeva [00:03:44] Patience. I think patience is really key as an artrepreneur and having faith in that moment of your patience, to know that wherever you’re at your lowest, there is a highest moment for you coming. You just don’t know when and that should give you drive to be better in everything that you do.
Brian Young [00:04:21] And referring back to your art for a moment, what is the importance of color in your art or how important is color in your art?
Amy Paraskeva [00:04:33] Oh very important. I think it kind of drives mood to make people feel a certain way. So the brighter I use my colors the happier it looks. Then if I decide to one day mute it all, you concentrate less on the color and more on the people, but there’s a sense of a serious tone when there’s no color involved in my work and I feel like that kind of takes out the life of it, but a little contradiction. I did start photography with film in black and white and I absolutely loved it because there was a contrast and there was a focus on the subject like no other. So I could use no color, but I prefer to use the color because I feel like there’s a sense of life that we’re missing if we don’t use it.
Amy Paraskeva [00:05:45] So I, just recently, a little backstory: I just recently actually got my aura read and I was honestly very scared. I was honestly very scared to look at my aura and see very dark colors, like as if something was wrong, but I actually left and they took the photo and once it was developed I had bright yellows, oranges, pinks, and indigos. She said that actually means that I’m a very happy person and I was like, “Oh that’s great, because these are the colors that I actually gear to.” Color is so important to me, so much so that even my whole energy as I give it off are these colors as well.
Brian Young [00:06:31] I can feel that, I could feel that as we’re talking right now.
Brian Young [00:06:45] I know in general society, today everybody is kind of using the term “entrepreneur”. We like to use the term “artrepreneur” and I’m curious to understand your take about what does it mean to be an artrepreneur.
Amy Paraskeva [00:07:08] I think more focus on the art and the craft of your own abilities. I also find that a lot of people who are entrepreneurs are doing things that they don’t necessarily like to do or they haven’t been doing for so long. They just see money in it. I mean I could be wrong, it’s just that I’m finding a lot of people who were never photographers, never loved it, and all of a sudden they’re just like “well this, this should be easy so why not just pick up a camera”. I actually know a couple of people who are like this, and I think that’s where my view of entrepreneurship is kind of skewed a little bit.
So I obviously really appreciated that you guys changed the word to artrepreneur, because I feel like there was a more of a focus for art there. It’s not just something that you can do and make money off of. It’s a craft that you absolutely love and you’re absolutely passionate about and it’s not just about the money. It’s because you love what you do.
Brian Young [00:08:47] What do you want your art to say to the person to the people who are viewing it?
Amy Paraskeva [00:08:54] I don’t know if I want it to say anything. I kind of want it to be, this sounds like such an artist thing to say, but everything is up for interpretation, like what is your perspective? If I take a picture of an 80 year old man and you see every line on his face, what does that story tell you? Do you just see, do you see the outer skeleton of this person, or are you seeing years and years of hard work and hardship and wisdom. Do you see the sun spots on his face? Was he a man that worked outside? What is the story behind that? And it’s kind of funny and I’m making the connection right now…I just made the connection that I used to love…I forgot what they were called… Picture prompts! I loved picture prompts when I was younger, and I would see these drawings and would love creating a story from them. So, it’s kind of like my photos are kind of picture prompts for the people. Whatever you see and whatever you feel, it’s kind of up for interpretation, and I hope you take it with love and positivity. I mean even if it’s a negative emotion, if it’s sadness, if it reminded you of your grandfather or whatever it may be, I just wanted to evoke emotion and I don’t think it matters what it is that they see. I don’t really have a story to impose on people, but I would love them to just feel what they feel.
Brian Young [00:10:31] It’s like a jump off point for somebody’s own story.
Amy Paraskeva [00:10:35] Yeah.
Brian Young [00:10:37] Going back to our campaign tagline of “Artrepreneurs Start Here,” where do you suggest creatives begin their career. I know they said you had a bunch of people that you know kind of picked up a camera that hey this is easy, let’s do this, but looking at it a little bit more deeply, you know, where would you suggest new creators and creatives begin their careers.
Amy Paraskeva [00:11:26] I think doing something that you love can be practical. You just have to be financially smart about it. So, I think that starting off with the mental perception that just because you love it doesn’t mean that there is no hope for it, I think that every creator who wants to start as an artrepreneur should have a mindset that they can do it, and I think that’s the best place to start.
Brian Young [00:11:57] So it starts with the individual creator saying it to themselves that this is possible. I can bring something that I love that I’m passionate about to a career for myself. With that question, let me ask you, where did you actually start your own creative career?
Amy Paraskeva [00:12:20] That’s a hard one.
Brian Young [00:12:23] It all started when you switched your focus, right?
Amy Paraskeva [00:12:26] Oh yeah. That’s a really sad story. So I was an English major for about three years and then someone that I really cared about died from a brain tumor, and I unfortunately was there to watch them pull the plug. I don’t think that I was mentally prepared for that, but I did it anyway because I loved this person and I wanted to see them off. Seeing that moment — she was so young — only early 40s, not being able to see her son off to the military or see her daughter grow up and graduate. Understanding what death is and then not being able to do everything that you wanted to do in life hit me really hard. I just told myself that as a creator, a creative and an artist, and just as a human being in general, I should give myself the opportunity to live life and to experience the things that I want to experience, and push forth a positive energy and be happy about things that I’m doing regardless, of how hard things get. It sounds really cliche and I’m not saying that it’s easy, because it is really hard sometimes, but I think that moment was really pivotal for me to start my journey as a creative and as an artrepreneur because I just thought there was really no time to be wasted. I live now and this is the only life I have, s o why not make the best of it?
Brian Young [00:14:07] I understand that 100 percent. It’s oftentimes in times of sorrow or pain or hurt that something comes out of that that’s positive and it’s definitely a positive situation, your career as an artrepreneur to this point, so I understand it. Thank you for sharing that story. I know that has to be an emotional story to tell.
Brian Young [00:14:40] What keeps you going? What what pushes you forward and what inspires you the most to create?
Amy Paraskeva [00:14:51] I think that my constant jumping around from media to media keeps me refreshed so that I’m not stuck in one place, and that’s just personal. I know there are artists who have styles. I don’t consider myself to have a style. People who know me and might stumble upon this podcast might beg to differ, like a friend of mine just told me yesterday, but I kind of like the idea that I don’t have a style, and that I have the ability to just be a visionary.
Brian Young [00:15:42] What sparks that initial idea in your head is it anything? Is it walking in the park? Is it heading to work one, day driving the car? Could it be anything or is there one specific thing that you feel really spark something huge for you?
Amy Paraskeva [00:16:15] Honestly, it could really be anything. Sometimes it’s not even just for myself. Sometimes I have these moments of like having a big vision of a business because somebody was telling me their own business and I was like I would love to help you and like create the whole visual evergreen of what this may look like. So it really just could be any moment and I think that’s honestly to me, I think that’s honestly pretty cool just because I don’t need to wait on anything to inspire me. I just kind of take what I can get and then I try to mold it into whatever big idea I could make it into. It’s not always easy, but I think that my ability to jump from media to media and platform to platform and think of all these big ideas makes me very flexible as an artist and I’m never honestly really bored.
Brian Young [00:17:47] It sounds like there are bits of creativity sprinkled throughout your entire day, and your entire life, from work to personal life to downtime even. How important do you feel that living a creative life is? How important is that in the life of an individual? They may not be an actual creator right now or somebody who is creating, but could be somebody who is thinking about it. How important is creativity, do you think, to anybody?
Amy Paraskeva [00:18:20] I think it’s really important for artists to have an outlet or not even just artists. I think everybody should have a little bit of creativity in their day, because it’s not just painting it’s not just photography. It could be cooking and making that dish look beautiful. It could be singing in your shower. I think everybody every day should have a little bit of a creative outlet.
Brian Young [00:18:49] Absolutely, that to me is the true definition of being a multi-hyphenate creative, it’s singing in the shower, it’s adding flavor to your cooking, it’s expressing yourself in different ways, in different mediums.What would you say is the greatest lesson that you’ve learned as a creator and an artrepreneur? That’s a tough one, I know.
Amy Paraskeva [00:19:28] I think having love for oneself and understanding it’s really hard to be a creative, and understanding what that hardship is going to be like. It’s a mentality in preparing yourself for that. I think it’s really hard to not be sound of mind and be a creative at the same time, because you kind of get stuck in these moments. Even in sadness, sometimes creatives make such great work when they’re sad, and when they’re happy, they find themselves in a rut. But if you have the ability to, I don’t want to say control, but maintain your mental state that it’s healthy enough that you can create whenever, however, whichever and whenever you want, it becomes a better process for you
Brian Young [00:20:33] So it truly does start with one’s mindset.
Amy Paraskeva [00:20:40] At least that’s what it is for me.
Brian Young [00:21:13] Thinking for a minute about careers for creators, do you feel like there are enough resources out there in the world to help artrepreneurs with their careers?
Amy Paraskeva [00:21:29] I want to say no just because, it’s not even on the sense of like helping them create, it’s more in the sense of like the business aspect and what that looks like. I think that a lot of creators, and I’m going to group myself in this, don’t know what the business side is, because that’s not our realm. It’s really hard to find people who are in that realm but also understand what being a creator is. So you kind of have to find somebody who has the capacity to know both those worlds, so that you can succeed, or you have to learn that yourself. In my own personal life, when I get too involved in business, my goals seem smaller and smaller and smaller because it’s so complicated on the business side and a lot of life is sucked out of creative. Which is why I always kind of tell people, if you’re going to get somebody to help you, especially when it comes to business as a creative, try to get someone who knows what it means to be a creative and not just numbers and words.
Brian Young [00:23:09] There are certainly unique individuals out there who can think both ways and understand the creative and business, but I do believe that there should be more resources out there like Artrepreneur to help creatives understand the business side of art. That’s something that we set out to accomplish with Artrepreneur.
Brian Young [00:23:47] Amy that was so great. Thank you so much for joining the Creative Career Center podcast and sharing your art with us. We truly appreciate everything you put into your art and for responding to our Creative Ad Open Call, and we certainly look forward to seeing more work from you in the future!
Amy Paraskeva [00:24:02] Thank you so much. It was honestly a pleasure. You were delightful. You’re great.
Brian Young [00:24:06] You were you are as well. Thank you so much.
Brian Young [00:24:12] Have a great day!
Amy Paraskeva [00:24:14] You too!