After pulling up to Bergamot Station and I'm welcomed by probably the brightest spirit you can meet on a regular Thursday afternoon. I had the pleasure of visiting Amber Goldhammer's studio on the last few days as the only artist in Bergamot Station as she is moving on to new horizons in Downtown Los Angeles. Nevertheless the energy of the artist will continue to live through her work always remain positive regardless environmental changes.
There is a freedom and a looseness in her work that we all strive for in life in general. Her graffiti style writing in playful colors repeating "I love you" only makes you feel good inside. She's been able to transport her audience to their happy place as they gaze upon her murals and paintings. From mirrors to handbags, she's not afraid to take her art to different levels by playing with different surfaces. I'm excited to see what she'll do next.
Jennifer Agyapong: So tell me what got you started in art.
Amber Goldhammer: Well I actually started out really young. So my grandmother was a very creative woman, she still is, so she would watch me every weekend. I would go to her house and she would break out the jewelry making, the painting, photography and modeling, clothing making; Everything crafts we did. We never watched TV, we were physically active doing fun stuff.
I want to be that type of Grandma
Yeah she's a amazing she's like my angel.
She's going to come because I'm actually creating a handbag line and she was a seamstress her whole life so she's going to help me figure out how to sew because I don't know how to sew. I will create the bag and the art but she's going to help me put it all together.
So even at this age she's still teaching you.
How was it being an understudy for a major artist?
So I have mentor, his name is Rosoulli. I don't know if I would call it studying under him but he's really been a life guide and a life coach and a life mentor more than learning anything technical about art. His whole philosophy is being able to paint like a child because we're really free in these moments.. In a nutshell, what I learned in 12 years of being with him is to get out of my mind and to just paint like a child without trying to have an outcome or a mental image of what is should look like because that's where the fight begins. What I think it should look like and how it ends up is never going to work out. So if I can just not have an attachment to it then I will have no judgment and just have a good time.
So with this series and the I Love You, where does it stem from?
The I love you stems from this painting that I had that was just an abstract painting and it had kind of figures on it that looked like words but you couldn't really make out what they were. When someone had seen it they actually said it looked like a bad word and so I stared at it for a while and I finally saw the bad word and I'm like, oh my God that is not what I want to put out into the world, let me do the absolute opposite and turn it into something positive and what's more positive than saying I love you.
Can you describe your own work?
That's really hard. I think it's always easier when someone else is telling you about your art. I think 'I love you' is probably my favorite series that I would do forever because not only is it positive affirmation for myself but when people just from having my studio open and having the public come and view my art, people come in and they start smiling. They get really happy looking at it because it might take them a moment to figure it actually says I love you because it is a bit subliminal in some of the art works and others it's not subliminal it's pretty obvious. They get happy because it's written in a way that's cool and edgy and street but they can also put in their homes and look at it and it make them happy every day.
I see you taking your work onto different surfaces from pillows, surfboards, and you just mentioned your purses.
I love handbags. I have so many hand bags that I will never have enough. So I thought okay how cool will it be if I create my own handbag. My graffiti series is so popular and people are attracted to it, they like it, so why not put it on something that people carry every day. If they like it in their home why wouldn't they want to take it outside. It seems like a match made in heaven.
I read that your environment really inspires the colors in your art and because you live close to the beach you're always surrounded by the ocean. So I was curious what you think will happen to your work once you move locations.
That's a great a question. So I think it's definitely going to change. You know being by the beach it's a really chill mellow atmosphere, I live at the beach also so I'm constantly just feeling good feeling chill. The ocean gives me a lot of energy and peace every day. So going downtown where it's loud city energy its definitely going to be different. I'm excited to see what it's going to do for my art how it's going to change. I don't think it's going to shift it into a dark direction because naturally as a human being I'm just a positive happy person so I don't think that's going to change. If anything I think it's going to inspire me to keep being more street and adding different elements of street edginess into my art.
Who are your favorite artists?
The artist that I look up to the most that I don't know is Romero Britto. He's a Brazillian pop artist. He's turned himself into a global empire brand so not only is he an amazing artist he's a very talented business man. He has a good team behind him creating anything and everything. Public art instillation, murals, art for galleries, everything.
So you are a very positive person, I felt that right when I met you. I want to know more about your positive affirmation pieces with the mirror that we were looking at.
I feel like it's actually turning into a series. Even though it's my graffiti "I love you" message I think painting that - it gives me chills even thinking about it - it's one thing to look at a really beautiful piece of art that says I love you but having it in a mirror where you can semi make out your reflection in conjunction with art makes it that more intense. It's hard when you're looking in the mirror and talking to yourself in the mirror in private and you're telling yourself that you love yourself it's kind of a hard thing to do. But if you have a little bit of help - I know it sounds silly- but the mirror has hearts or says I love you it's like a friend there helping you tell yourself you love yourself. Life is hard, it's challenging, everyone has ups and downs and struggles every single day so the one thing that is easy to forget is ourselves and how much love we have for ourselves. It's easy to put everyone else first and to do things for everybody else and take care of problems instead come back to yourself and say hey I'm important too I have to care for myself.
So what would you tell your younger self?
I think during adolescence it's really the hardest time because there's so much peer pressure and there's so much judgment and we want to be cool and we want to be with the right people and looking good and have money for all these expensive clothes and see we got all wrapped up in that and forget who we are as an individual. So I think understanding who you are and trying to figure that out at a young age and find your integrity and kind of what makes you you and hone in on that care for yourself is what really carries on into adulthood.
What do you see for the future?
I aspire to be like Romero Britto because he's got everything going on and I just love that. Not only is he doing great things with the art, he also has time for charity events and gives back to the community and that's equally important. Why not share with people that have money to purchase art and also with people that don't have the money to purchase art. It has to be full circle.
What's something your fans wouldn't know about you that isn't necessarily art related?
I love sailing and I have a sailboat because I love the ocean. Being on the water is the most freeing thing.