Amber Vittoria’s work can feel monstrous. Proportions are warped, inflamed, elongated. Her illustrated subjects are lent spikes, hair, and other typically untoward realities. Lips protrude, noses bulge. In their quote-unquote ugliness, Vittoria’s unique vision unfolds: a critique on physical identity, especially in regards to the ideal female form. It’s the antithesis to the perfection of glossy mags and its unattainable expectations–arguably the real monster here.
In an increasingly image-based culture, where everyday everybodies promote themselves like mico-celebrities, the self-imposed pressure to look and live a certain way serves as a crushing weight to many. There are apps that gloss, nip, glitter. Altered photos, once reserved for the realm of the aforementioned glossies, are sent into the world, further propagating these false illusions. Vittoria’s work merely sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, exacerbating attributes that so often seem the focus of our ire.
With a take that seems even more relevant in our current cultural climate, Vittoria’s work–and all the subtext it offers–has been commissioned by the New York Times, Lenny Letter, and Teen Vogue, amongst many others. Her portraits come with winking titles like “The Legs Go Over the Head?” and “Interests Include Politics.” Below, we head to Vittoria’s Manhattan live/work space to talk indiscriminate ice cream cravings, Kerry James Marshall, and staying hydrated.
Place of residence:
A Manhattan one-bedroom loft with my boyfriend in a building that was once a brothel.
Freelance illustrator! I recently began to work for myself, hence the excitement.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A taller version of my grandmother.
Quote to live by:
“I’m a Gemini, so I change my mind every day.” –Natalie Portman
First job you ever had:
A cashier at Value Village.
Least favorite part of your day:
Taking out my contacts before bed.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
“So Much to Me” by FKJ.
Three guilty pleasures:
Ice cream (any flavor); skipping the gym; and, previously, almond butter with Oreos, until I learned I have a severe almond allergy.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?
The Devil Wears Prada.
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
Anything by Kerry James Marshall.
Plane, train or automobile for a trip?
I’m a fan of all three.
What IS your favorite trip?
Thus far, I’d say Iceland. It is truly an incredible place to visit if you love nature.
Personal travel ethos:
Remember your camera.
Drink of choice:
Beach house or tree house:
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
A cannoli made by my grandmother.
What is the best news you ever received?
Learning I had a baby brother.
Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.
Almonds, mainly because I can no longer have them and am still a bit bitter.
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.
NYE 2015/2016 Phish at Madison Square Garden. I just got over a terrible cold, wasn’t sure I should go, and am so glad I did. We had incredible seats, and everyone was wonderful. The balloons at midnight were also magic.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
I’ll oftentimes take a 15-minute nap; I’ve learned my body rejuvenates best when I get both mental and physical rest.