We had the good fortune of connecting with Aimee Mandala and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aimee, how do you think about risk?
I believe risk is a necessity when it comes to personal and professional growth. You won’t get anywhere you want to go if you don’t put yourself out there. My ambitions in the art world came unexpectedly, but quickly became a force larger and stronger than even I completely understood. All of the sudden, I needed it in my life more than ever, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wanted more. After three projects I decided I wanted to start showing my work, which was both an exhilarating and scary prospect. But I truly believe that if something doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing. Risk for me meant I was going to just do it. Just go. Create. Start connecting with people and very publicly say my goals out loud (over and over) so that everyone knew. There was a sense of vulnerability in being so open about my aspirations, but I didn’t care. I was so focused on soaking up as much knowledge and advice as I could to get me where I wanted to go. I set a goal and just chased it, sprinted after it even. The amazing thing is that working hard at something you love is so insanely rewarding. When I just focused on the work, on developing my craft and challenging myself, the rest came more organically. With that said, I acknowledged I was the new kid on the block and was not afraid to ask questions. I was also very lucky to have found people who are willing to share their knowledge, and that has been priceless. I think people respect when you are open, honest and willing to listen while staying authentic and true to what drives you.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a graphite and charcoal artist as well as a writer at heart. My work and current series is called “Handmade: A Craftsman Drawing Series,” and is inspired by the beauty I see in the process of different forms of craftsmanship, the gritty tools they use to mine their craft and their rugged workwear. I grew up in a family deeply rooted in architecture, and while I’ve always had an appreciation for design, I became fascinated with the act of ‘making.’ I believe as a society and consumers we are so focused on the end result of a product or thing, that we don’t value the heart and hard work that went into creating it. I believe each step is something that should be celebrated and that is why I enjoy highlighting it in my work. I revere the hand covered in metal dust, the torch used to braze the brass, the grease and grit embedded in old tools and the dirt under fingernails. With that said, I enjoy sharing my own creative process. You see me plan, work through a challenge, overcome a struggle, and at the end hopefully you witness a conquering of sorts. That’s where the art happens, in the push and pull and ultimately the fight to bring your vision to fruition- that’s the good stuff, not just when you declare it complete.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love being active and amidst nature, so I’d start the day with a morning hike along the coast in Palos Verdes. Portuguese Bend is a great trail for both getting into the grit of nature while overlooking some amazing coastline views. Afterwards I would take them to brunch at Terranea resort for those picturesque views while sipping some mimosas. Then we would head down to Hermosa for a beach day. I am a big fan of sand under foot, beach waves, sunshine and salt in the air. We’d soak in all the good stuff until the afternoon and then swing by ShockBoxx Gallery to see the latest and greatest cutting-edge art. If we are lucky, we might run into some locals as they roll through. After that I would road trip it to dinner at Mahé in Seal Beach for the best sushi around followed by Nick’s on 2nd in my hometown of Long Beach for the best cocktails and their famous Butter Cake. We’d end the night walking along the canals of Naples with some hot tea to catch some beautiful night views of the Bay in Belmont Shores.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I truly believe a series of events and people brought me to where I am today. I am so grateful for everyone who has inspired and encouraged me along the way. Whether it’s my family who has supported me and been there to witness the hours of hard work firsthand, the craftspeople, artisans and collectors who have influenced my work, or the incredible support from an amazing community of artists I’ve quickly come to know and am grateful to call my friends. I am so lucky to have connected with so many people of varying levels of experience, skill and technique. Each one of them, no matter how different their approach, has helped to open to my mind to all of the possibilities. It would be a huge fail of me not to mention artist and gallery owner of ShockBoxx Gallery in Hermosa Beach, Mike Collins. Mike saw my work develop over time and he assured me my goals were attainable. His encouragement, faith in my work and mentorship has been huge in my growth as an artist. My recent induction as a Program Artist at Shockboxx was an exciting and unexpected turn of events and has helped propel me towards new heights in my art career. Being a part of an amazing group of artists has been so instrumental in pushing my limits, increasing my momentum, and adding more fuel to the fire. I also want to say a special thanks to my fellow ShockBoxx Program newbies, MUKA and Christina Elizabeth Smith. It’s been so great to be on this journey alongside such genuine, talented and strong women.