In our fourth installment of our 6 part campaign, we present Amy Summer to talk about what it means to her to BE YOUR OWN Boss in the 21st century.
I’m an artist and designer from Sydney, Australia, with a dire case of resting happy face. I’ve been painting my entire life. I sold my first painting to my school at age 11 and started exhibiting my art, live-painting, and freelancing after I moved to Sydney from a small regional town in my late teens. I have a penchant for sickly sweet colours and I am insanely curious about human beings, so I paint a lot of portraits.
In recent times, I’ve started taking on more work as a designer, which is currently my main profession. As an extremely right-brain dominant person, I find the more methodical aspect of design really enjoyable and strangely soothing. I’ve had a lot of bizarre side jobs over the years (face painter, model, video editor, television body double, writer to name just a few), but art will always be my true love.
I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over the years. Personal setbacks aside, as an artist it’s been dealing with the imposter syndrome that can creep up on you. I think being your own boss means trusting yourself, taking risks and filling your life with people who are willing to do the same. As much as I like to say yes to everything, it’s also about being okay with saying no. For me personally (edging on ADHD and easily distracted by novel possibilities) it was about learning how to focus my energy on the things that actually matter.
When I was about five years old, I was sent to the school psychologist when my artistic rendition of the Easter Bunny featured bloodshot eyes and multiple cigarettes hanging out of his mouth. I guess I was pretty weird from early on. I remember trying to downplay this eccentricity and blend into the crowd a lot more when I was younger. Everything shifted when I realized that our differences are actually our greatest assets. I think being your own woman is recognizing that.
Technically an untrained artist (I graduated in Art History at University), I’ve exhibited in over 30 exhibitions over the past few years. When I was studying, I was doing oil paintings of my friends for fun, and I started being asked to exhibit in some small group shows, which has kind of just continued. My first solo show was called “Play” and it was about remembering how to explore and create like a child. Sometimes I get anxious about my artwork (that it’s too naïve or bright) but I find it helps to see it all as part of a larger journey. There is no “end goal” for me – I truly just want to keep making stuff and having a good time doing it.
For a period of time, I was working full-time as an artist, and it was incredibly emotionally exhausting. I decided to study graphic design, and after years of trying on different hats I found that I really loved it; it was like learning another language. I continue to paint a lot, but it’s nice to have worked as a designer to balance everything out.Taking ownership of my life has meant learning to measure success by my own standards, rather than external ones. That sometimes means taking a break when I need to or making sure I have time to play and explore for no reason at all. When I am ready I would like to return to painting full-time, and I definitely would like to live and work overseas, but for now, I am really happy.