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Illustrator Amber Vittoria reclaims the female form

New York-based Amber Vittoria tells evocative stories of the women around her in vivid colors and loose shapes.

Illustration by Amber Vittoria

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The women that New York-based illustrator Amber Vittoria draws are bold, filling up her compositions. Apart from grounding details like a hairdo or the outline of a boot, the figures are mostly abstract, a free-form swirl of color and shape.

Amber adorns her characters with plenty of flowers and the occasional sun, eyelashes or body hair. “The aim with my work is to create a more relatable narrative of womanhood, in hopes to dismantle the tropes society has long set upon women,” Amber tells Shaping Design.

A firm believer in the power of visual representation, Amber creates images that are far from the idealized versions of the female body we’re accustomed to seeing. “If we can see ourselves within our own culture, we can be inspired to be our most authentic self,” says Amber. “I hope that my work can help encourage others to be their full selves.”

Illustrations by Amber Vittoria

Empowering women with illustration and fashion

Alongside her personal projects, Amber has created award-winning editorial work for publications and establishments such as The New York Times, Condé Nast and the V&A Museum, and has worked with brands such as Instagram, Marc Jacobs and Gucci.

Fashion in particular plays an important role in her practice, with many of her works available to be worn as socks, t-shirts or silk scarves. “Having worked in fashion commerce prior to becoming an illustrator full time, I was exhausted from seeing a very specific narrative of womanhood portrayed within fashion,” Amber tells us, explaining her strong pull to the field. “Because of this, I began to depict women in my life and women who inspired me.”

“If we can see ourselves within our own culture, we can be inspired to be our most authentic self. I hope that my work can help encourage others to be their full selves.”

Honoring women’s stories and thoughts

In her attempt to reframe perceptions of women, Amber enjoys celebrating certain achievements in the way we view womanhood. One such example is her recent series for Facebook’s Analog Lab, where she spent a six-week long residency exploring the idea of women in the workforce. “Historically, women and their personalities tend to be quieted or ignored within an office setting,” she notes.

Her series of portraits highlights how in contemporary culture, workers’ individuality is increasingly embraced by employers. “Society has begun to empathize with womanhood and the stories, thoughts, and ideas women bring to the table,” Amber comments. Her series of illustrations aims to strengthen women's voices and encourage a wider, more encompassing array of perspectives within work environments.

As a freelance illustrator running her own business, the story of the working woman resonates deeply with Amber. With many professional achievements under her belt, she looks back to one moment at the age of 15 - when she first decided to pursue art as a career - as a particularly important milestone. She clearly remembers her parents’ support of her choice at the time. “Their confidence in me helped me through times where I couldn’t find the confidence within my work or myself,” she shares with us.

A design master class on Editor X

The techniques Amber employs are diverse - from ink and painting on paper, to risograph prints and digital pieces. She recently partnered with Editor X for a design master class, in which she explored some of the unique design capabilities of the platform. “Design tools enable me to create, share, and sell my works to people I’d otherwise never have the pleasure of meeting - it is truly incredible!” Amber concludes.

An illustration by Amber Vittoria