Welcome to the left side of my brain! When I was a kid, my dad taught me how to sketch cartoon characters and block letters on the back of paper restaurant place-mats. In school, my poor grades reflected my passion for doodling on notebooks and folders. At age 13, I rented one of those big foam boards in Cocoa Beach and got hooked on surfing (typically story if you ask any one whose ridden at least 1 wave). As Kelly Slater once described this phenomenon, “it’s like the mob or something.” Once your in “there’s no getting out.” My surf art is simply an outward expression of how much I love waves and water.
After one boring semester, I dropped out of college. My plan was no plan; To go live on Oahu’s north shore with all my life’s savings, hang out, and become better at surfing. I took lots of pictures while I was there, as any good tourist would do, and four months and hundreds of waves later I returned to Florida and started taking photography classes at community college. Using my images from Hawaii, I created T-shirts, framed and matted prints, stickers, greetings cards, and posters and wholesaled them to over 30 surf shops along the east coast, advertising through the Surf Expo, cold calls, and a few camping trips.
Later, I went on a 1 year internship spree, which began by shooting portraits and events for Orlando Style Magazine. Funny thing is, I don’t know much about fashion. Just Nike pants and old Roxy T-shirts that I still can’t bear to discard from 8th grade.
Anyway, I had flown to Washington state and my flight home was cancelled. The bright side? I received a free airline voucher. As I was flying home the next day, I picked up an issue of National Geographic Adventure Magazine to read on the plane, where I saw advertisement for an adventure photography workshop. I thought myself, “hey, I’ll use my voucher to attend this workshop” (in Jackson Hole, Wyoming) and four months later I did. At the workshop, I met the photo editor for National Geographic Adventure and became a Photo Research Intern in New York City that summer. Three days after the internship ended, I drove up to Portland, Maine and started my first day as a Photo Editing Intern for Aurora Photos.
After my 5 year anniversary of being a college dropout, I moved to Michigan to finish my bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in photography. One of my favorite classes has been a medium format (4×5 film) class with a view camera and darkroom full of fun. I like photography because it always gives me something to do. It renders no situation boring; just annoying for those I’ve traveled with, having to stop every 30 seconds to snap an image. They’re souvenirs from every place I’ve experienced- about 30% of them are film and the rest from a Canon EOS 1D Mark II. Graduation is coming up at the end of April and it feels rewarding to have accomplished a goal I let go of in my past.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful in Michigan the summer, but it’s the antithesis of the tropics and I need a coping strategy for 8 months of winter. I can no longer photograph waves, beaches, or palm trees, so I sketch them and paint them instead as therapy for the lack of ocean in my life. I like mixing vivid colors together to create waves, flowers, sunsets, and whatever else in on my mind, using soft pastels, primsa color markers, and colored pencils.
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*All artwork and images copyright © Amy Hammond