Azarra Amoy

We’re back across the pond this week and having a good ol’ chat and a spot of tea with one of London’s most brilliant artists — Azarra Amoy. It was a good time to catch up with her since she just got a new studio!

Azarra spoke on how art is like her diary, and she walked me through some of her inspirations and talked about growing up in London and even spending time in Bangkok before transitioning into her current artistic career. Azarra’s colorful, kinetic designs are a welcome sight during these times, and may also inspire you on your creative journey!

Transcript

Full Transcript

Maurice Cherry:
All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.

Azarra Amoy:
My name is Azarra Amoy, and I am a multifaceted RS and designer, creative thinker and a student of this crazy world we call life. Or shall I say, yeah I work as an artist, and I’m also a part-time designer. So I work with presentations for a creative agency called Empire. So I do that three to four times a week. And then the rest of the days is all for art.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. What is the feeling in London like right now?

Azarra Amoy:
Quiet because we’re back in lockdown. So we’ve been in lockdown just before Christmas, which was a bit mental because it was literally a last minute thing. They were like, yeah, you can spend Christmas with your family. And then literally three days before they’re like, no, everyone’s on lockdown. Basically all the presents you bought, send them back.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh no.

Azarra Amoy:
You aren’t seeing your family. So I don’t know how many people actually stuck to that. But right now, I feel like a lot of people are fed up because this is our third lockdown. And it’s just like in and out, in and out. But I’ve just been trying to keep myself busy personally. And check up on friends, family, and try and find some normality in this.

Maurice Cherry:
How have you been doing just kind of overall this year so far?

Azarra Amoy:
So far this year it was quiet. I literally took time out for myself. I was like, before everything gets a bit crazy or if it does get a bit crazy, I just want time for myself because the end of 2020 was a bit nonstop crazy for me work-wise. So it’s just been nice just to just chill, let me think. Write down some goals that I want to achieve personally and professionally. And just take time, eat right, detox from all the drink and food that I ate over Christmas period and just yeah, just reboot.

Maurice Cherry:
Did you I guess … Can you talk about just some of those goals you might have for this year?

Azarra Amoy:
So one of the goals was to sort out my studio. So I moved out of my last studio just before Christmas, and I needed to find … It was a bit last minute.com. And I’ve been trying to find places, but it’s really hard because we’re on lockdown. So it’s through video calls and just trying to work out through pictures if it looks okay. But luckily yesterday I got the keys to a new studio. So I’m really excited to get in there and just fix it up and make it my second home.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh nice.

Azarra Amoy:
So it’s a bit hard sometimes working from home, separating from work and personal time.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Well, congratulations on the new studio.

Azarra Amoy:
Thank you. I’m really excited.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s one thing that I’ve been thinking about over this whole pandemic quarantine thing, is I got to get my own space. I like my apartment where I’m at. And I’ve worked out of my apartment for a long time. I’ve been doing the working remote thing since 2009. So I’m not unfamiliar with it, but the difference is that I had the option to leave the house.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
I could go and work from a coffee shop or work at a client location or travel or something like that. And granted, right now our restrictions aren’t super strict at all. I’m in Georgia, which honestly has been open since last May. There’s been … We had three weeks of lockdown in April. And then we’ve kind of been open. To that effect, our rates are super high because people have been traveling and just coming and going as you please. But as I’ve been working, I was out of work and then got a new job. And I’ve just been thinking, I really want my own space. Granted, my apartment’s nice, but I really want to have that separate workspace that’s just for creativity.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It does make a difference. I miss having my studio space. I was like, I just need to get something.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Azarra Amoy:
But luckily I found a place that’s really nice. It has a balcony and all sorts, so I’m just really happy.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh nice. So what do your days look like now with lockdown and the new studio space and everything?

Azarra Amoy:
So I usually have a routine, I get up early, do a little meditation, work out. So I’m addicted to spin at the moment. And I login to work at 9:30, so I work three to four days a week depending on how busy they are. And yeah, I login and I usually have schedules set out for me already. So I just crack on with the work. And my team is really small, they’re really lovely. We all have game nights and stuff, and just try and make it as normal as possible. And yeah, I do that until 6:30, and then I usually eat and then spend time on personal projects, whether if that’s just me just trying to do a sketch or a digital collage, those are sort of my go-to things that I do.

Azarra Amoy:
And I do them without even noticing that I do them, if that makes sense. Some people chill and watch Netflix and stuff. But for me, doing a little sketch, a little doodle on something is my chill time. And not everything that I create, I show. So basically I always say that my art is like my diary. It’s like what I feel in the day, or something that’s on my mind because I’m not really … I feel like I’m not a great communicator with words, but I communicate well when I draw. So that’s my output.

Maurice Cherry:
I got you. What are some of the projects that you’re working on right now?

Azarra Amoy:
Art-wise or work-wise as a designer?

Maurice Cherry:
We’ll say art-wise. We’ll say art-wise.

Azarra Amoy:
So art-wise, I’m working with a publishing company. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mention them yet, but looking to do some illustrations for a children’s book. So I had just recently done a mock-up of stuff. So I’m just waiting on feedback if they’re liking the direction that it’s going. I’m trying to do some personal paintings because fingers crossed with COVID, I will be able to have a solo exhibition, which has been on my list for forever. And last year was meant to be the year, but obviously with what happened, it was a no-go. So I’m hoping come October, that will happen. So I’m just slowly putting their stuff into motion.

Azarra Amoy:
And I’m going to be on a panel for a studio space that’s in Brixton, London. And I’ll be on the panel for their residency. So I’ll be helping select who gets a year’s residency with them. So I’ve been working with that team just discussing a few things. So that’s what I’ve been doing art-wise.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, you’ve got your hands full with a lot.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. I try to keep as busy as possible.

Maurice Cherry:
Do you usually have sort of a limit of the number of projects that you try to take on?

Azarra Amoy:
I listen to what my body tells me, if that makes sense. So if I feel like I’m really run down, then I have no problem just saying no to whatever project comes. It’s like, no, sorry, you need some you time just to just relax. So I just go off on how I feel, and that’s how I take on the work.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. So these are … Just the projects you mentioned between a book cover, personal paintings, doing this panel, talk to me about how you approach a new project. It can be any type of project. What’s sort of your thought process when it comes to that?

Azarra Amoy:
I guess with a lot of projects that do come my way, they usually come to me because they know my style of artwork. So for example, I feature a lot of black … All the women I feature in my artwork are black women. Me myself, I’m a black woman. So yeah, I think it just comes from … I’ve been lucky enough to be able to navigate where the direction of the artwork goes because they know my style. So they know that’s the sort of direction, and what I’m trying to portray and uplift black women in the artwork that I do. So that sort of is usually the base. And then from there, I just then add on what the client wants, if that makes sense. And yeah, and then from there I usually do a mock-up. And then they give feedback.

Azarra Amoy:
So that’s how I’ve always really done it. So and usually I research into certain stuff. So right now, I’m really interested in the black Madonna, which is religious, the black Virgin Mary.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Azarra Amoy:
Let’s put it that way. And I’ve been looking to the history of that, which is really interesting because these countries that are really popular with the black Madonna are not exactly the most black-friendly places. So it’s really interesting how they worship this idol of this black Virgin Mary. But in day-to-day sort of experiences, they’re not like that with people of color in real life. It’s just a weird, she’s allowed to be worshiped, but if you put a black woman in front of them, they’ll do anything to put them down, if that makes sense?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Azarra Amoy:
I just go off of what surrounds me, what comes to mind, stuff that I see [inaudible 00:12:42], things that I see in movies, magazines, blogs that just trigger something, and I’ll just start researching.

Maurice Cherry:
We’ve actually got a church here in my neighborhood here in Atlanta called Shrine of the Black Madonna. It’s a church, it’s a cultural center. They do events and stuff there. So I’m familiar with the concept that you’re talking about. Do you usually try to have some religious iconography in your work, or is this just a particular … Or is it a particular figure I guess you’re kind of obsessed with right now?

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah, it’s just a particular figure that I’m obsessed with right now. So yeah, not all work features, but it just … I don’t think I have any religious features, no, in my work. So this is just something new that I’ve come across that I find really interesting, and we’ll see where it’ll take me.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Is there anyone out there that you would love to collaborate with?

Azarra Amoy:
Oh. I guess right now it would be interesting to … I have no one in mind, but there are a lot of people that I have collaborated with have been London-based. So it would be nice to collaborate with people from different countries to gain their experience, to understand their experience and how it’s similar and how we can collab. Does that make sense?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Azarra Amoy:
But I can’t think of no one from the top of my head right now.

Maurice Cherry:
From looking at your style, your style actually reminds me a lot of another mixed media artist that I had on the show. God when was that? That might’ve been about two or three years ago. This guy in … He’s in New York. His name is Kendrick Daye, D-A-Y-E.

Azarra Amoy:
Okay.

Maurice Cherry:
He does kind of this similar collage mixed media kind of work. So your art reminds me a lot of what he’s doing. You all have very sort of similar styles in terms of I think the color and the elements. I think your work at least from the work that I’ve seen, there’s a lot of play on symmetry.

Azarra Amoy:
Yes.

Maurice Cherry:
With portraiture and things. You try to have a lot of symmetry, which I think is really nice.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. I like the whole kaleidoscope kind of effect in my work. So there’s always some sort of symmetry as much as possible.

Maurice Cherry:
What would you say is the hardest part about what you do?

Azarra Amoy:
Knowing when to stop. As an art issue, always something try to over-perfect. And I speak to my cousin every day, and there’s this painting that I’ve literally been working on for about two and a half years. And I just don’t know when to stop. I’m like, no, it’s not right. It’s not right. And he’s just like, it’s never going to be right. Just show the world. The art is amazing. I’m just like, no, it’s not ready. And just know when to say, okay, that’s enough. It’s never going to be right sort of thing. And you can always add … The beautiful thing about art, you can always add to it. Just because you start and you show the world, doesn’t mean that, that’s the end of it. You can add on to it. You can take away. You can make it into something completely different.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s true. That’s true.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
So kind of switching gears here a little bit, were you born and raised in London?

Azarra Amoy:
Yes I was.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, tell me about that. Did you kind of get exposed to a lot of art and design growing up?

Azarra Amoy:
Most definitely. My parents are both creatives in their own way. So my dad paints. And well, he enjoys painting. He’s a painter and decorator by trade. And my mom just dabbled in everything I guess. I guess that’s where I get a lot of my creative talent from. So she was a hairdresser. She was that crazy mom who had the bright hair, then green hair, and then orange hair. Every time she turned up to pick me up from school, her hair was always different colors. So she was the crazy, cool art mom. And she’d done fashion, yeah just around the house little DIY projects. Whenever she was sewing, she always used to set me little tasks to do. So I’ll make a pencil case from scratch. Make little bags for myself.

Azarra Amoy:
Just stuff like that. So and I think she got that from my grandma because my grandma’s like, “You must know how to sew. It’s a key thing because you don’t have any money or you don’t have anything, at least you can sew the clothes on your back.” You can make curtains, you can make a chair, you can do whatever. As long as you can sew.” So that’s one of the skills that was drummed into me from a very young age.

Maurice Cherry:
So it sounds like being exposed to all this so young, did you have a feeling that this is what you wanted to do? Or was this just a part of your world?

Azarra Amoy:
It was just a part of my world to be honest. I didn’t even think of it as a career choice or anything like that. It was just a way of life, and it only hit me that actually this is what I really want to do as my career choice was not until I moved to Bangkok and I went there to work in doing something completely random. I was working as a governess, which is like a nanny almost for a family out there. And I was just getting really down. I was like, no, this is not being homesick, this is something else. And it just wasn’t clicking to me. And then one day I was just sitting on the sofa and I was like, I know. I know why I’m so down. I know why I’m feeling a little depressed.

Azarra Amoy:
And I was like, I haven’t picked up a pen, I haven’t drawn anything. I haven’t made anything. That’s what it is. So as soon as that popped into my head, I jumped in the bike taxis, I went to the nearest shopping center and bought up a whole load of art supplies. And it just that feeling of just being creative again, I was just like, yeah, I’m coming back home and this is what I’m doing.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Were you studying abroad? How did you end up in Bangkok being a governess? That seems like such a random kind of departure from what you were doing.

Azarra Amoy:
So my friend was actually working as a governess out there. And she’s like, oh, there’s this family that’s looking for a governess. I’m going to put your forward, do you mind. And I was like, I have no experience in this. She’s like, it doesn’t matter. Go interview and if they like you, then come over. And I was like, well, this is a bit out of my comfort zone. I was tempted to say, no. But I felt like it was one of those things that in a few years time I’ll kick myself like, why didn’t you just take the opportunity. So I went with it, and I had about three interviews with this family. And they’re like, yeah, just we’ll pay for your ticket. Apartment’s paid for, just come over.

Azarra Amoy:
And I was like, oh okay. And I stayed there for a year, and yeah, it got to the point where I was just like, this is not where I’m meant to be. But I absolutely love Bangkok. There’s a place in my heart for Bangkok.

Maurice Cherry:
You are the second person that I’ve interviewed recently that has had some tie or connection to Bangkok. That is so … Yeah I just interviewed an artist in Washington DC here named Reggie Black. And he spent four years in Bangkok as a designer and doing talks and stuff like that. You let me know because you were there, was Bangkok a really creative city?

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. There’s loads of stuff to do. It’s like the city that kind of, it doesn’t sleep. Which is not like London. London, people always think that London’s busy and stuff. But come a certain time, things just shut down. But Bangkok’s just, they have a night market. There’s just lights, there’s culture, there’s just artwork everywhere, music. It’s just a really nice atmosphere. So yeah, definitely I would love to go back to Bangkok under creative or creative reasons anyway.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now you went to the University of the Arts in London. Can you tell me what your time was like there?

Azarra Amoy:
Oh, I was there for a while because the University of the Arts, they have different campuses.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Azarra Amoy:
So, well different colleges under the University of the Arts. So the first one I went to was the Art College in Camberwell. Camberwell Art College it’s called. And I had done a foundation art course there. So that course is just to help you build your portfolio and understand which direction you want to go in creatively. So you do a bit of fashion, a bit of graphic design, a bit of sculpture, painting, et cetera. And then from there you branch off into which field you’re more comfortable with. So that was my first college, and I actually went into graphic design. And now looking back at it, I was like, why did I do that? Because I was really interested in sculpture, but I thought, oh, how can I make money as a sculpture?

Azarra Amoy:
I’m just thinking, I think people are in your ear like, how can you make money from being a sculpture. Graphic design makes more sense. So I went down that route. And then I ended up in London College of Communication, which is where they do mostly sort of graphics, digital courses there. And I had actually done a foundation degree, which then turns into a full degree if you did the final year. So I had only done two years of that. So I have a foundation degree in graphic communication. And I was like, I actually absolutely hate this. So I was like, but I want a full degree. So I managed to sort of blag my way onto another degree course, which was something completely different, magazine publishing.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Azarra Amoy:
So I spoke to the head of the course. I was like, “Yeah, I’m really interested in doing this course. I have experience.” which was not true. I was like, “Yeah.” She was like, “Oh okay.” She looked at my grades. She’s like, “Okay, you can join the course, but over the summer you have to do some coursework to make up.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s fine.” And she’s like, “Okay.” And I made it happen thank God. And from there, I graduated in magazine publishing, which is a weird course because it’s a bit of design, a bit of PR, marketing, all of the stuff that you need to know basically of how to run a magazine.

Azarra Amoy:
So by the time I graduated, it was that weird shift between print into digital. So I was like, this course was mostly about print. And now I’m graduating and everyone’s transitioning to digital. I was like, what is going on? I was like, all the places where I had done work placements at, their print … All the prints of their magazines were being shut down the department, the print department of their team. So I was just like, everyone’s just shutting down. I don’t know anything about digital. So I think that kind of scared me and I just sort of was stuck for a while thinking, what am I going to do next? I don’t know anything about digital. Should I take a course or something?

Azarra Amoy:
And I think I was stuck in a rut for a long time. And I just continued at my job that I was doing during uni, which was working in retail. And that, that’s when … After that, that’s when I went to Bangkok, and that just opened my eyes.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. Well, it sounds like that trip to Bangkok was what you needed, if you were at this point where you had went through all this school and you were feeling stuck.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
A change of scenery will do it.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah, because over here I saw they sort of sell you a dream. They’re like, yeah, once you leave uni you’ll be able to get a job. And that’s what I thought. I was like, yeah, as soon as I go through it, I’ll be able to get a job easy. No. Not like that at all. Everyone I speak to, they’re like, yeah, we saw the same dream. And then it hits you. Life hits you.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I know that feeling all too well. I graduated … Well, I didn’t go to design school, but I graduated with a degree in math. And I really had no career prospects lined up after school. I was still working like you. I was working the job that I was working while I was at school, which was just selling tickets at the symphony. Just selling to old white patrons that wanted to hear Chopin or whatever. Telling them where to sit and stuff.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
And it wasn’t until a few years after that, that I sort of ended up falling into design. But yeah, sometimes that’s how it is. School’s … And that’s not really I guess the fault of … I don’t want to say it’s the fault of the schools. It’s really the fault of the market.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Just because you come out with a degree, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to go right into working somewhere because maybe you need a portfolio or maybe the school that you have has a different reputation that this company doesn’t go for. So I don’t know, it can be tricky. I know it’s tricky here in the States. I can imagine it’s the same way overseas as well.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah, definitely. It’s not easy. And as you said, it’s true, you can’t blame the institutions for the lack of opportunities once you leave. But I think with the course I was saying, the foundation degree course, that was meant to be heavily work experience-based. And when we joined, everyone was like, where’s this work experience? Because we were meant to have industry teachers come in every week.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh.

Azarra Amoy:
To teach us from different companies and stuff. And we literally had one the whole year. We’re like, this is not what we signed up for. And we were all meant to be allocated sort of a mentor from the industry, which they were going to provide. So there was meant to be a mentorship scheme and stuff. But yeah, it didn’t work out that way.

Maurice Cherry:
Wow.

Azarra Amoy:
But here I am. I found my feet.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. So you went to Bangkok, you worked there as a governess. You didn’t like it. That sort of sparked you wanting to become a designer. And you came … Did you come right back to London after that?

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. Straight back to London.

Maurice Cherry:
So what was your plan once you got back?

Azarra Amoy:
I had saved some money whilst doing this job because I didn’t have to pay rent or anything like that. So I had saved, and I was like, okay, I’m going to give myself a year to really try and get this running. And if there’s no progress, then I’m going to have to really rethink this. So when I came back, I was just applying for sort of any artist call-outs and stuff like that. And I was just … I just began painting. And luckily I had a friend who used to do an evening called Arts Meets Music. And he was like yeah, why don’t you display some of your artwork at one of these events? And I was like, amazing, jumped on it. And then from there, that’s how I met people. And someone told me about, oh … Some of my artwork [inaudible 00:27:32] murals.

Azarra Amoy:
Because my paintings are such large scale paintings. And they’re like, why don’t you do murals? So I was like, oh, I never thought of that. I just thought street art is murals. Spray paint, I’d never touched a spray can in my life. How can I do this? Well, let me just apply for a call-out that I saw, which was local to me. And I actually had a dream that told … People think I’m crazy when I say this. I actually had a dream about it. And I was like, I woke up from this dream and I was like, yes, let me do the application now. And I actually won. And I was like, oh, this was a sign. So I had done it, I was like, okay, I’m going to literally win this because I’ve never spray painted in my life.

Azarra Amoy:
And the mural actually came out really nice. And it’s still there in Brixton until this day. And from there, people just started contacting me. “Oh yeah, do you want to do a mural here?” “Do you want to do a mural there?” And I was like, wow, I was really not expecting this. And I found a new passion for something else as well. That’s how I got into the murals.

Maurice Cherry:
And speaking of which, that’s the mural that’s … People can see that in the cover art for this episode. The one that you’re standing next to.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s quite a mural. So you worked on all of that by yourself? Or did you have a … Did you work with another artist or anything?

Azarra Amoy:
Yes. So this, the mural that you’re talking about, I worked with another artist called Lynette [inaudible 00:28:49]. And I worked with her on two other projects as well. So the person who created the project, [inaudible 00:28:57], she knew both of us. So she knew that we worked together, and she wanted two artists who had a good relationship who can work well together. And she’s more of a calligraphy artist. And I’m more of a sort of paint now, visual graphics. So both of our styles just seemed to work together. So she commissioned both of us to do the project. And yeah, and it worked out amazing. I’m really happy with the outcome.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, it’s a beautiful mural. It’s a beautiful mural.

Azarra Amoy:
Thank you.

Maurice Cherry:
And I’ll make sure that I will link so people can see the full thing because with the cover art it’s just sort of cut off in that square. As I was looking through your website and looking at your projects, one project I saw that I really liked was the work that you did with MTV. How’d you end up working with them?

Azarra Amoy:
So they contacted me last year about the award. And they’re like, it’s a really short turnaround. But we really love your style, and really think that it will suite … My art style will suite the award winners. So all the award winners for the … It was … Let me get the name off the award. Generation Change Award. All the winners are black female women or women of color, sorry. And I was like, well, I paint women of color and I paint women. So I was like, yes. All these women who have won, so it’s Raquel and Willis, [inaudible 00:30:23], Louisa Brazil, Kathea … She’s going to kill me for pronouncing her name. [inaudible 00:30:32] and [inaudible 00:30:33]. Sorry, my pronunciation of the names are terrible. And yeah, these women are amazing. They’re doing so much for our generation, for the future generation, fighting. They’re all amazing activists within their field.

Azarra Amoy:
I was just so excited just to be asked just to create something personal for them. So all of the awards … Each of their awards is hand-painted and customized to them. So it was a very special project. I was very happy to be selected and honored.

Maurice Cherry:
So these days when it comes to big, high profile projects like that, are the projects coming to you, or are you seeking them out?

Azarra Amoy:
Luckily they seem to be coming to me. I have no idea where MTV saw my stuff from because when they contacted me, they showed me some of the artwork that they liked. And I was like, this is so random. It’s literally just random artwork that I just posted on Instagram, not thinking anything of it. Just, oh, this is what I’ve been doing during lockdown. Here’s a painting sort of thing. Just didn’t think about it. And those are the ones that they selected. So it was interesting because I would’ve thought it would be something that … Like another big project that I’d done before or something like that. But no, they contacted me. I was very lucky.

Maurice Cherry:
Who are some of your influences? Like I mentioned, the work that you’re doing, this sort of collage work is very vibrant. And certainly very unique. Who influences you or what influences you I should say?

Azarra Amoy:
As I said before, a lot of the collages and painting that I do are stuff that I do daily. So they just represent my mood. It could be influenced by a song that I’ve just had on repeat all day that makes me feel good. I’m like, oh, I’m going to do a collage on that. I know it sounds typical, but literally the women that I have around me are amazing from my sister, my mom. A lot of the other artists that I work with are mostly females. So yeah, they push me and inspire me constantly.

Maurice Cherry:
At this stage in your career, you are doing these large scale projects and things of that nature, what does black art mean to you?

Azarra Amoy:
Black art for me is a place to be free. It’s a way for me to share my experiences and also hopefully uplift other black women. I think that’s important because representation especially in the art world … I don’t know about in the States, but over here the art world is very white male-based. These institutions are very white man, paint a sculpture sort of thing. And that’s even projected in the education within the art education when I was at uni and school. So for me, it’s about representation, authenticity, and just uplifting. That’s what art means to me. It’s just being free.

Maurice Cherry:
What is sort of the London design scene like for you right now? Being on lockdown, are there ways that you’re able to connect with creatives?

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. So I’m part of … What’s that group’s … I sign up to online courses. So one of the courses that I use is Black Blossoms. So it’s an online art school. And you sign up and there’s different art courses. So every week there’s a different course. And I’ve been literally killing those. I’m right now, the course that I’m on is the Art Revolution in China, which is really interesting. Just opening up my eyes to different genres of art that I just wasn’t exposed to. And having these other women in these blossom art groups, and all of us just sharing opportunities like oh, someone’s contacted me to do this, but I just don’t have time. Any of you sort of have any idea of someone or if you want to do it? And we’re just sharing contacts, sharing opportunities because everyone’s just trying to eat. Some people have been made redundant from jobs and stuff. So I think, I feel like there’s a real sense of everyone coming together and just trying to help each other out.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. That’s a good thing that you’re able to kind of use technology as a way to reach out to people and to sort of have that fellowship and that … Also the ability to kind of work together. I don’t know if you collaborated with anyone solely on a virtual level with any work?

Azarra Amoy:
I worked with a team who I had done murals with in the past. And I was actually scheduled to do a mural with them summertime last year, but it didn’t work out. So in the end, it ended up being a digital project. So from there it’s just, it was all online-based having to work from that sort of platform, I wasn’t able to research how I usually research sometimes. So especially if I’m doing artwork in a certain location or reference if it’s referencing a certain location, I usually go out with my camera, take photos. I just spend the day there, really just take in the atmosphere, but being obviously locked in the house, I’ve just had to find other ways. So YouTube, and watching old documentaries on the area, just trying to gain as much information. Trying to put out contact people via Instagram, which is a bit wild. But just people who you see off on the area and you can try and, “Hey, this is a bit weird, but I just want to get an understanding what this location means to you.” Or get as much interviews and stuff like that, which I’ve never really worked that way.

Azarra Amoy:
So definitely even after we come out of lockdown, I think I’ll be using those forms definitely to my practice.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Sounds like you picked up a new skill over the pandemic.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. Which is cool because I’m literally … I’m a person who keeps themselves to themselves. So it’s definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone having to talk to people. And even doing interviews, I don’t like my first Instagram Live at the end of last year. And I was like, I’ve never done this before. I was so nervous. And just doing radio shows as well I’ve been doing. So it’s been practice. I’m not great at interviews, but I’m getting there.

Maurice Cherry:
Practice makes perfect, let me tell you. Just the more that you’re able to do it, the more comfortable you’ll become. That’s really the best way to do it. You get more comfortable, you end up kind of being able to pull on … Particularly if you’re talking about different projects that you’ve done. You’re able to kind of pull those narratives out really easily. So if I could give any advice, I would say, take all the opportunities that come to you because each of them is just a way for you to get better at it.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. Definitely. And it’s just fighting the inner demons as well because it’s so easy to sort of self-sabotage. Be like, oh, I don’t want to do this. It’s out of my comfort zone. But you just … I just push myself all the time, and just be like, come on Azarra. Come on. Do my little speech to try and motivate myself and be like, you’re going to look back at this and think, oh, what was I panicking about? It’s so simple.

Maurice Cherry:
Because the flip side to it especially I think with doing a podcast interview is that the audience is vast and varied and diverse. There may be someone that’s out there listening that is like you. And is like, oh, well if she’s doing it, then I can do it.

Azarra Amoy:
Yeah. And I hope there is someone out there. You can do it.

Maurice Cherry:
How do you define success right now?

Azarra Amoy:
Success for me is doing what I love. Yeah. Doing what I love and getting paid for it, which is the dream. So I’m always selective as well on what I work on. If it doesn’t feel right, if it doesn’t sit right with my core, or if it doesn’t feel authentic to me and feels forced, then I try to avoid it in a sense, but not restrict myself at the same time. So for me, it’s just what brings me joy at the moment because especially in times like this, you have to be selective with your energy. Even though you’re not being around a lot of people, it’s draining. So just trying to find happiness in everything.

Maurice Cherry:
Where do you think your life would have gone if you weren’t a working artist? What else do you think you would’ve been doing?

Azarra Amoy:
I can’t even imagine that life. Something creative definitely. But maybe in a different field. For ages, I wanted to be an architect. Which is completely random. And I was actually so close, I applied for it at uni and everything. And I just last minute changed my mind and done the art foundation course because I was like, I haven’t explored all that’s out there creatively. So for me to just rush into being an architect doesn’t feel right at the moment. But yeah, probably an architect or maybe something with children. I love kids, so a teacher. There’s one. I probably would’ve been a teacher.

Maurice Cherry:
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What sort of work do you want to be doing?

Azarra Amoy:
So I would love to be working full-time as an artist, and hopefully have my own creative agency and be doing what I do full-time. Even though as much as I love being a presentation designer, I would like to have more time to do projects that I really well. Whereas, working as a presentation designer, you’re restricted by what the client wants, Gram brand guidelines and stuff like that. It’s very sort of corporate, I would say corporate design. Whereas, as a creative, if I had to … My agency, I would be able to be selective and really push the boundaries and collab more with other people. Which is definitely on my list of things to do. Just get myself out there and just learn and work with other people. That’s the big thing for me, learning new skills as well. And just bringing that all together.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Well, just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find more about you and about your work and everything online?

Azarra Amoy:
So you can check out my website, which is azarraamoy.com. And I’m also on Instagram @AzarraAmoy. And also on Twitter, which I don’t tweet that much, but just in case. It’s, ThisisAzarra. That’s my Twitter account.

Maurice Cherry:
Sounds good. Well, Azarra Amoy, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you really for kind of sharing your creative journey and showing how you can really sort of find creativity in sort of the most seemingly unlikely of places. You were a governess like you said, in Bangkok. And you decided, oh, this is what I want to do. But no, the art that you’re creating is so vibrant and beautiful. And I’m just really excited to kind of see where you go from here. Hopefully one day we will be hearing about that exhibition that you’re planning.

Azarra Amoy:
Yes, definitely.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, so thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Azarra Amoy:
Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

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