Amy Guidry creates bizarre, beautiful images with a photo-realistic bent. Guidry’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country, and featured in numerous publications, such as American Artist magazine. Today, we chat about her paintings and she reveals what artist she would like to have dinner with, and what would be on the menu.
IFP: Your work would be labeled as “surrealist”. But what would you call it?
AG: I would say surrealist is an accurate description. I’ve loved Surrealism since I was young and my work has become progressively more surreal over the years. Dali and Magritte were both influential to me and still are, really.
IFP: Animals seem to be a recurring theme for you. How come? And why is the pig one of your favourites?
AG: I’ve always loved animals and I’m particularly interested in the relationships humans have with the rest of the animal kingdom. I think the way we treat animals says a lot about us psychologically, which is something I like to explore through my work. I’m also a vegan (12 years going), so that seeps into my work a bit. Sometimes, it’s more overt while other times, it’s more of a subtle, symbolic approach. As for the pigs, I’ve always been a “city girl”, but am fascinated by pigs (cows as well). They’re very intelligent – just as much as dogs – and very friendly.
IFP: Do you search for inspiration, or does it simply come to you?
AG: I try to let my inspiration come to me just so that it’s not contrived. I don’t like to force ideas. I do look to the natural world for inspiration, though. I will sketch out images of things that interest me – even if it’s as simple as a tree branch – and store those ideas away in my sketchbook. I find that eventually, those small bits of visual information pool together and create a whole image or concept.
IFP: I really loved your painting called “Untitled (Heads)”. Where did that idea come from?
AG: The initial idea came to me after I’d gone to bed and was half-asleep. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was compelled to get up and sketch it as I saw it. I did several thumbnail sketches afterwards and came up with what became “Untitled (Heads)”. This would be an example of what I mentioned before about veganism finding its way into my work subtly. The heads are representative of our treatment of animals as pieces or parts or just things that we look to use or get rid of. They’re not often seen as animals as they are a means to an end.
IFP: Can you tell us about a painting that was especially hard to complete?
AG: I always try to challenge myself with whatever I do next, but one piece does stand out. For “The United States of Consumerism”, I was painting one-dollar bills and pennies to form an American flag. I think I underestimated how long it would take, so I had to pull an all-nighter to finish it for a show. I managed to do it, but it was stressful, to say the least.
IFP: I read you can put 180 hours into a single painting. Is that true?
AG: Yes, though I like to think it’s worth the effort; otherwise, the hours could be a bit daunting. 🙂 I put in over 180 hours on a piece called “The Wild West”. There are cliffs, bones, cracks, crevices, etc. – all those little details add up, time-wise.
IFP: We have an image of the artist who suffers for her art, but you’ve discussed the importance of marketing yourself in order to make a living. So, what advice would you give to artists who have no experience with the marketing aspect?
AG: The internet is great for this. We are all very fortunate to have the technology to get our work in front of people across the globe. That said, use the internet for all it’s worth – create or hire someone to create a website, create a blog, get on all the social networking sites, email your collectors or potential collectors about your work and achievements. Take business courses, read business books, magazines, blogs, etc. Many artists fail, not because their art isn’t good, but because they don’t know how to run a business. Unfortunately, most art schools and art programs do not emphasize this and do not make business courses part of the art curriculum.
IFP: What artist, from any time period or place, would you like to invite to dinner? And what would you eat?
AG: Tough question. If I had to choose, I think I’d invite Magritte. The meal would have to be vegan, but I think he’d be open to that. One of my favourites is pan-seared tofu with mango salsa, black beans and rice.
IFP: What scares you? What makes you happy?
AG: I have to be mindful of taking breaks every so often because I’ll have carpal tunnel pains, so the thought of that ever taking over scares me. That said, what makes me happy is painting. I’ve always drawn or painted, so I can’t imagine not having that creative outlet.
IFP: What is your dream project?
AG: I’d love to be commissioned to do a piece for an animal welfare organization to promote global humane treatment of animals.
IFP: What are you working on right now?
AG: I’m currently working on another piece for my latest series of work. It’s a bit similar to the “Untitled (Heads)” piece, though it features cows (my other favorite). 🙂
Bio: Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Amy Guidry spent most of her years in Slidell, Louisiana and is now a resident of Lafayette, LA. She attended Loyola University of New Orleans where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. She was awarded the Loyola University Art Scholarship, awarded to only one student per graduating class.
Amy has exhibited her work at galleries and museums throughout the country, including the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Her paintings have been the subject of numerous articles and online publications, including American Artist magazine, Studio Visit magazine, and Juxtapoz Art & Culture magazine. Her work is part of private and public collections, including the Zigler Art Museum in Jennings, LA. Recently, her work was featured on MTV’s The Real World Season 20: Hollywood. Amy is represented by Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, TX and The Oak Street Gallery in Hammond, LA.