If you’re surfing through Instagram, you might happen across one of her pieces. It might be an ice cream cone overflowing with paper clovers or spilled milk painting a kid’s face across a pastel tabletop. Or maybe it’s the artist herself wearing retro shades, green lipstick and a wig of kale. It might even be animated, a stop-motion shuffle through the brief life of a gumdrop cloud.
Go a little further and you’ll end up on her page: @amyshamblen. At the moment, Shamblen showcases her work exclusively on Instagram, where each post waits, a landmine of color for you to click into and dizzy your eyes in its sunshine. Her world is so uniquely hers that it’s almost impossible to pick which post to look at. You’re a kid in a candy shop, tasked with choosing between lemondrops and bubblegum, lollipop swirls and licorice.
That was my first impression, anyway. Once you get used to Shamblen’s world, the colors start to relax. Then you get to take your time. You can sort through the tiles, taking each out of the box for a sample.
You start to get a feel for the way the light falls, how the weird interacts with the everyday. She takes mundane objects like telephones, cocktail glasses, teacups and toasters and throws them against a pastel backdrop. She adds sprinkles of strawberries and jelly beans, a spritz of confetti, and then photographs it. But even when the shots are on the page, they’re never still. Everything wants to move, to shine and burst out of the frame.
After you get past that first explosion of color, there’s a lot to explore. Shamblen spends much of her time tinkering in her studio, adjusting the lighting and positioning the objects to capture that one sweet moment, or sometimes several, which she pulls into a quick stop-motion animation.
She’s found and owned her niche, which she describes simply as everything “bright and colorful.” And although she finds herself competing for attention against millions of other Instagram accounts, Shamblen says the site is also full of people who share her colorscape. A lot of her inspiration comes from this shared creative space, where she can interact with other artists and brands looking for custom photos.
But the pitfall of using such a public, accessible platform is that Shamblen doesn’t rent or own this space, so if something happens to Instagram, she’s out of luck.
Recently, she’s been looking to do gallery shows in and around Akron. She wants to see how her work—which thrives in the tight, checkered tiles of Instagram—will translate from its digital format to the real world.