THE OPINIONATED: FEATURES | Street Art On A Mission With Amberella

Photo Credit: Jesse Clayton 

Photo Credit: Jesse Clayton 

There's nothing quite like stumbling upon some street art gems. After living in major cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles, we've grown a deep appreciation for the art form and how it can transform our environment.

That's why we were especially excited to find out that the street art that made us stop in our tracks in Silver Lake, CA, was actually done by a Philly-based artist. We had to learn more.

Meet Amber Lynn, otherwise known as Amberella. She's a woman on a mission to create street art that makes you think, feel and remind you that you're not alone.

Danielle: What made you want to bring your art to the streets, instead of only having it on display in a gallery? 

Amber Lynn: Back in 2010, I was working on a body of work about street harassment and cat calling. Conceptually, I felt that this particular series belonged back on the streets, where it originated. Cat calling is public and uncomfortable, so I felt the work needed to be just as public and uncomfortable as what it was speaking about, so I placed it back on the streets. 

That is how I even ended up in the streets!  My work is extremely purposeful and intentional. The work is trigger-worthy and catches people by surprise.  When you go to a gallery, you are expecting to see artwork.

D: How do you feel this affects the art?

A: Street art is very different, in that it is typically unexpected. I think that when my work is encountered organically, it can trigger a deep, authentic reaction from the viewer. A very personal connection occurs. It could be a memory, thought or feeling -- regardless, some sort of emotion surfaces. 

D:  Which work is your most popular? Which one do you get asked about or approached about the most?

A: I have two bodies of work that I'm focused on right now: one is the Goth Hearts, which are relationship and feeling-based and the other is the Power Hearts, which are more about self-love and encouragement. Both of these bodies of work are coming from my personal life experiences and just straight up feelings!

Things feel very heavy and hard in our country right now, so I think that the Power Hearts are resonating most with people right now. Some of the more popular ones being KEEP GOING, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, YOU GOT THIS, and YOU ARE LOVED.  I get letters daily from people that share their very personal stories with me about what a heart that they saw means to them and why.

D: I actually stumbled upon your "keep going" art on a street in Silver Lake, and then my friend Corey (also from Philly) told me it was your work. It was just the message I needed to see in that exact moment.  Do you ever find yourself revisiting your art, in order to help you through different situations as they come up in your own life?

A:  I started the POWER HEARTS after coming out of a really horrible relationship, that left me a shell of myself and feeling pretty worthless. I began therapy and a long journey of rebuilding my self-worth. I decided to create the Power Hearts for myself. I would paste them up around places I frequented, as daily reminders to myself to literally "KEEP GOING", "YOU GOT THIS" , "YOU CAN."

My work is pretty selfish, as you can see it is stemming from my own personal feelings and experiences in life. It's my therapy. But once my work hits the streets, it becomes so selfless. It becomes everyone else's. These feelings are universal. We ALL struggle. We ALL need to hear these positive affirmations. I'm happy to hear that my work spoke to you. 

I'm forever revisiting work and reworking bodies of work and combining work, based on whatever is happening in my life. What's been really interesting? At some of my darkest times -- little do fans know -- their photos of my work that they have tagged me in have lifted me at just the right moments. 

There have been countless times where I have felt discouraged or low, and I have looked down to an IG notification of someone posting one of the Power Hearts and tagging me, literally right when I needed it. It's wild how the universe delivers and things become full circle. 

D:  Do you have any of your own art tattooed on you? If so, which ones? If not, which would you get done?

A:  I don't! But I love seeing photos of my art that other people get tattooed! It's pretty rad. I think if I got a tattoo of my own work, there are two top contenders right now: STAY or WORTHY.

I love the duality of STAY. It can really go either way and I'm so emotional. I like that "stay" can be good or bad. It has a quiet melancholy about it and I love that.  I also love WORTHY.

I don't know about you, but I feel that maintaining self-worth is a lifetime battle. With the barrage of social media, different life experiences, our relationships with ourselves and others... feeling WORTHY is a lifetime accomplishment and to maintain that is hard. Having that as a reminder would be an amazing mark to have permanently on your very own skin forever! 

D: What are the biggest messages you hope people take from your work?

A:  I want people to feel and connect with their emotions -- whether good or bad feelings. They all matter. As for the bad -- it's incredible to know you aren't alone.  It's amazing  when something can become so universal and mean so much to others and I want people to find hope in that.  

Right now, I feel the Power Hearts are especially important during these hard times.  As far as the Goth Hearts, there is always heartache, heartbreak and love that's so good, it makes your heart sing. It's important for people to connect with emotion and feelings... it means you are alive. 

D: What's next? Where would you love to have your street art displayed?  

A:  I'll be back west for a big installation in the fall, in Northern California, so I'll most likely make a mission out of that trip and bomb around. Any recommendations are welcome!  I would love to go international -- beginning with Mexico. This journey is still so young. 

Follow Amberella on Instagram and check out more art on her website!

For more of The Opinionated: Features, check out Shéila's story here.

Know someone who we should interview for our next The Opinionated: Features