Art in Transition

One of the major reasons I was able to start a life in California was due to an awesome, God-fearing artist formally known as Amy Wagner. When we first met, we were both single women living in Hawaii. In a matter of two short years we both changed our last names and ventured into a new area of life neither of us had ever known. Art is a common thread in most of my friendships and this is no different, but it’s even more inspiring to have a sister in Christ who is growing with me and experiencing most of the same things. I wouldn’t have met my husband without her help, and I’m certainly still inspired by her faith, passion for life, and jaw-dropping artistic abilities.
This adorable tattoo artist, wife, and mother of one has so much to share in her own blog and asked me to do a guest blogger spot on her site. She recently started a weekly Pure Beauty segment that I will soon be featured on. I’ve recently gotten back into doing monthly artist spotlights here, so she graciously answered my inquiries about her personal life. If you–or anyone you know–are a newlywed, mother, artist, or Christ follower, there is definitely much to glean from Amy’s journey and I hope you are encouraged by her story.
Tell us a little about your journey through different careers and how God led you into your current field of work.
Hmm, where to start? Well, I always wanted to work. Even as a little kid I would try to find jobs, but no one would hire an 8 yr old. My dad has always had a really good work ethic and I wanted to be just like him. But it was God who gave me the desire and talent as an artist. I was never and never will be one of those artists that was born with talent. I’ve always had to work at it. I had no clue what I was doing when I first started drawing and painting, but God gave me the drive. When I was 13 I finally got my big break. I scored a job air brushing t-shirts at a theme park. I did that for something crazy like 5 yrs until they closed down, then I branched out to drawing caricatures. I didn’t like it as much as airbrushing, but it was way easier to do anywhere.

Sometimes I would set up on the board walk and walk home with 300 bucks in my pocket within a few hours. It was somewhere around that time that God found me.I began praying that he would lead me to the right college. I got accepted to a few different art schools, but the Philadelphia Art Institute offered me a scholarship. I took that as God’s way of saying “That’s where I want you to go”. I majored in Industrial Design–which is basically any type of product design, toy design, and furniture design. While in school I worked for an incredible sculptor, George Nista. He really helped shape my life as an artist. I can never really thank him enough. I learned more from him in three years than I ever did in school. Finally, my senior year of college my roommate bought me a bunch of tattoo equipment after years of suggesting that I try it out. I did my first tattoo on him and have been tattooing ever since.

You definitely paved your own way and followed your talents to success, but do you think you learned a majority of your technique in school or are you mostly self-taught?

I would say that there has been some incredible teachers along my way. Nista was one of them and my high school art teachers were the others. More than teaching me they encouraged me, making me believe in myself and I wanted to make them proud. But as far as learning skills and technique from someone, I didn’t learn too much of that in school. I would say I’m mostly self-taught.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of using those skills for tattooing?

It’s pretty rewarding knowing that someone picked me to put something on their body that will be there for the rest of their lives. It’s a pretty huge responsibility and I’m honored to be the person they choose.

I would agree! What types of requests get you the most excited?

My favorite requests are always the people who trust me as an artist and give me very few limitations. I find that it really showcases my style when I’m able to work that way. I believe that since I’m more excited about the artwork, the tattoo ends up turning out better as well.

Since this is your chosen career, I would think your main creative outlet is being a tattoo artist. Would you agree with that?

Actually I feel like my main creative outlet right now is photo editing and photography. It’s true that I pump out more tattoos than I do photos, but right now creatively I find my self more passionate about photography. I’ve been getting more and more into photography lately and I’m really excited about it.

My husband, Jesse, makes fun of me because I can spend hours editing a photo doing the most tedious edits and not get bored.It’s a totally different medium for me which I find refreshing. I’m so used to drawing being the first step to any of my other mediums so it’s nice to be able to fully skip the drawing step. I will always love tattooing because I know it’s where God has called me, but it’s fun to do something completely different artistically as well.

Speaking of husbands, there’s a lot of different perspectives on stay-at-home wives versus the working mom. What is your view-point on that subject and how did you decide to go back into the work force?

Hahaha. That’s an easy one: we needed the money. We only had enough money saved up for me to miss work for three months. After that, Jesse lost his job and decided to go back to school while designing web sites on the side. I make good money tattooing, so it wasn’t really a choice as much as it was what I had to do. I’m happy this way.

I think it’s great to be a SAHM (stay at home mom) if that’s what you want to do and can do, but that wasn’t an option for us. I love the set up we have right now. Jesse is home most the time caring for Jovi and doing work from home. When he is off teaching bible studies and taking care of our youth group, I watch Jovi. I only work three days a week so there is plenty of family time. Sure money is still really tight, but I feel like we are working to live rather than living to work.

Art and design can sometimes be a fickle career to pursue. How do you and Jesse deal with the sometimes inconsistent work while raising a family?

I can tell you that it’s just by the grace of God. Since neither Jesse or I know what we will be making that month it’s pretty hard to know how or where the money is going to come from to pay the bills, but it always does come. I’m actually finding it to be quite exciting. God is so good and always takes care of us usually giving us more than we need. It’s a little more scary having a child to care for as well, but she is a gift from the Lord and I know that He will also provide for her. It’s an amazing feeling to just let go, trusting in Him through this season and watching as he takes care of us. I feel like it’s good preparation for the future difficulties we will face.

Well said. When it comes to being a newlywed, there are a lot of abrupt changes. How did you adjust to being a mommy in such a short period of time?

Jovi was definitely a surprise baby. We were only married for six months when I became pregnant–after I was told that I was unable to conceive–so I was totally taken off guard. (You can read the in-depth story on my blog.) I wish I could say that I was totally joy-filled over it, but the reality was that I didn’t think I wanted to be a mommy and I was terrified, unprepared and selfish. We were just married and I wanted more time with Jesse before kids. That wasn’t God’s plan for us and I’m so happy that it wasn’t. His plans are not ours and there is nothing like the joy of being a parent. My pregnancy was really, really rough. I can honestly say that I hated most of it. I got so used to throwing up that I completely lost all shame in it.I would throw up anywhere at any time in front of anyone.

It was awful, but it was God’s way of preparing me, getting rid of my selfishness and pride, and humbling me. It was in most people’s eyes–including mine–too soon, but God’s timing is perfect and He knew we were ready. If I could go back I wouldn’t change it at all.

All in all, I think you’ve taken on motherhood beautifully. Now that Jovi is here, do you feel your passion for your art starting to dwindle or has it been ignited by her in a sense?

I kinda feel the same. I guess I thought I would have more time to work on projects than I do, but I’m not producing much. I know that if I start painting, my time is very limited and that can be discouraging. You’re kinda stretched all over the place, so its hard to start something new. She is still very young and hopefully–as she gets older–I’ll find the time.

I’ve read a lot about this on your blog, and I feel you have such a great voice on the issues of marriage, motherhood, women, faith, and the arts. What do you ultimately hope to contribute to this world through your writing and walk with God?

I hope to encourage and inspire other women. When I started my blog I just wanted my family and friends to be able to follow me through my pregnancy. I didn’t really know what to write about or anything like that. I ended up feeling like I needed to be like every other pregnancy blog out there. I got sick of it and stopped writing. Now I know that’s it’s an amazing outlet that I was abusing. I want to use it to build people up by showing women that they aren’t alone in their insecurities and self doubts. Helping them realize that they are God’s perfect creations. I just want to be my self and not be ashamed of who that person is. If people like it and want to keep reading, that’s awesome!

Read more about her life on her blog and see more art on her website.

4 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you for the feedback!

  1. j-boogie says:

    great interview!
    very, very inspiring… thank you for posting it!

    1. I find anyone who reads my blog to be inspiring to me. Thank you for the feedback, I know commenting on blogs can be a hasslehoff sometimes.

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