We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Padgett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking is central to my career as an artist and fulfillment as a person. It’s terrifying, it’s thrilling, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s essential to creating authentic work and living a life rich with passion. It’s found in every corner from bidding a large job, to reaching out to an admired artist on Instagram; from traveling abroad alone, to respectfully trespassing for the sake of art; and from speaking up against injustice, to being vulnerable with a partner. My brother and I grew up crippled with shyness. We joke now that it gave us the super hero power of ‘sucking it up.’ Meaning, everything felt like a risk back then, and I learned to not only get comfortable with it, but require it to grow. These days, most of my personal art is done in public spaces. I’m open to being judged, interrupted, kicked out, losing my gear, getting hurt, wasting time, and being rejected, but this is how I’ve made my favorite work! So my advice on risk: embarrass yourself, jump in the pool, hop a fence, say you were wrong, eat something weird, ask for a favor, and just press ‘send.’
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 stop motion video artist that focuses on producing land art and site-specific animation in mostly natural and urban settings. Essentially, I hunt the globe for interesting landscapes, sneak into abandoned structures, set up my camera, and frame by frame animate what strikes me. This is a thrilling and painstaking process that combines stop motion animation, time lapse photography, and a brazen disregard for personal comforts. This art form feeds my gritty travel bug while creating endless opportunities for what I consider ‘Adventure Animating.’ Since entering the world of production in Los Angeles three years ago, I became shockingly aware of the amount of material waste created by the film industry. Being an environmentalist at heart, I aim to make art that not only features nature but also works to preserve it. I do this by animating mostly locally scavenged natural materials, avoiding single-use plastic on set, packing out as much ‘surprise’ garbage from nature as possible, and of course leaving little to no trace of my work. I’ve been making art privately and professionally for years and have learned a boatload. One of the best lessons I’ve come upon is to not wait for the perfect opportunity, gear, or inspiration to make art. Do now what you can with what you have.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Despite our current Covid-19 shutdown, there’s still plenty to do in this enchanting city. Some of my favorites will have to wait, but others are doable with or without a global pandemic. -Bring a reusable cup to Spoke Bicycle Cafe and walk the L.A. River -Take a Super 8 Film class at Echo Park Film Center -Eat at Lemon Poppy Restaurant -Hike the Lower Winter Creek Trail in the Angeles Forest -Catch a movie at the Los Feliz 3 Cinemas -Late night cocktail at Colombo’s -Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology -Eat at Casita Del Campo -Have a sunset beer picnic atop Ernest E. Debs Park
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give my shoutout to my peer community in the Stop Motion workshops here in Los Angeles. It’s a supportive group of hardworking, enthusiastic weirdos, that make quality magic most often from behind the scenes: Kaitlyn, Alex, Maddie, Josiah, George, Greg, Kevin, Kristen, Warren, Ming, Maura, Ozzie, Jamie, Sadie, Sequoyah, Abby, Erin, Lesley, Luca, Naomi, Molly, Willy, Diane, Yuna, Jason, Jackie…to name a few. To survive and thrive in this field, I’ve relied on buddies. They are what keeps us having fun, getting jobs, and pushing to be better.
All pictures by Amber Padgett of Heavy Sweater Productions