Traversing the Freelance Life with Amber Davenport


Portrait of Papirmass Artist Amber Davenport

We admire artists who can pick up their pencils and paintbrushes and just create. But maybe it’s easy for our July artist, Amber Davenport, as she has a world of inspiration to draw from! From wild jungles to sweet creatures and patterned leaves, Amber makes travel a big part of her life, so it’s natural that that’s what emerges from her acrylics.

Amber is an impressive artist, who started freelancing while she was still in university and now works with companies like Urban Outfitters, Target, and Paperchase. However, just like every creative, she experiences roadblocks too. Curious? Continuing reading below to learn more about Amber’s journey!

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Painted illustration by Amber Davenport of sloths in jungle

Tell us about your artwork for Papirmass (not pictured).

This painting is inspired by my love of travel and the lush jungles of Malaysia. I painted it using acrylics to capture the colours and unique patterns of the dense jungle.

What’s a day in your life look like?

I start my day by answering emails, packing orders and general admin stuff. I like to get all of that out of the way before I begin drawing and painting. I need to have a clear mind when working and it’s a great feeling when I know that I have the rest of the day to just paint.

What is your creative process?

I usually begin by taking a long walk, visiting a botanical garden, flicking through old travel photos or browsing nature books. Then, I like to sketch a mind map/scribble page of all the animals, plants and destinations I’m inspired to paint. On my rough sketches, I try out different colour palettes. When I’m ready to start my final painting I make a pencil outline and don’t add too much detail because everything will be painted over. Then, I begin to fill in blocky areas with acrylic paint. Once the whole page is full of base colour I begin to add all the details of the plants and animals.

Illustrator Amber Davenport in her home studio

Do you have any creative rituals or routines?

I like a good podcast or nature documentary on while I work, and of course, I always have snacks and a cup of tea handy to keep me motivated.

Tell us about your studio.

My studio is situated in my spare room at home. I love working from home as I’m always close to my cats who keep me company throughout the day. I struggle to find space for all of my stock and old paintings, so one day I’d definitely like a bigger space.

What are your most important tools?

Pencils and paints. I love the traditional ways of working.

Bugs by Papirmass Artist Amber DavenportWhat motivates you to create?

I hit a creative block if I spend too much time inside my studio. So, being outside in nature is really important for me!

Where did you study?

I graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2018. I studied Textiles which taught me a lot about colour, drawing, and pattern.

How do you make a living?

I’ve been a full-time illustrator and designer since I graduated. I opened an online shop in 2016 while still studying. Since then it has grown to financially support me. Alongside running my online shop, I also create editorial illustrations and work for clients like Urban Outfitters, Target, Paperchase, and Birchbox.

Blue Whale by Papirmass Artist Amber Davenport

How do you promote your work?

I’ve always promoted my work through Instagram. I use it as both my portfolio and storefront. Ninety percent of the freelance jobs I’ve been offered came through Instagram. It’s such an amazing tool for sharing your work with the world.

Any advice to your younger self?

I’d tell myself to relax a little. I’ve always worked really hard and put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d tell myself to enjoy the journey and remember that I have my whole life to figure out my ‘style’.

How is the freelance life?

Working freelance from home can be tough sometimes. The financial instability is a little daunting and being alone all day can mentally send you down a bad path. Having said that, I love that every day is different! I love that I get to paint for a living! If I’d told my younger self that I’d be painting for a living at age twenty-three, I would have laughed a whole lot.

What are you most excited about?

I’m currently saving to go travelling again! I’d like to go to Vietnam and The Philippines. I totally fell in love with South East Asia after my last trip in March. I’m also planning another big trip to Costa Rica where I hope to volunteer for a few weeks.

Jungle Staircase in Morocco Painting by Papirmass Artist Amber Davenport

Favourite artist?

Ernst Haeckel, Henri Rousseau and Victor Pasmore.

Favourite film?

Anything by Wes Anderson

Favourite book?

“Adventures of a Young Naturalist” by David Attenborough

Virgo Zodiac Painting by Papirmass Artist Amber Davenport

Favourite Musician/Album?

“Is This It” by The Strokes.

Favourite city to visit?

Queenstown, New Zealand

Favourite meal to cook?

Thai Panang Curry

Favourite Online Art Blog/Account?

Fiji Sea Life Painting by Papirmass Artist Amber DavenportOur July 2019 Edition will feature work by Amber Davenport. Subscribe to Paprimass by June 30th to receive a beautiful artwork from Amber and explore more of her work in our online gallery!