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Meet Amber Rae

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Rae.

Hi Amber, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Sure! I started drawing at three years old and I never stopped. I can’t remember a moment in my life where drawing and art weren’t a part of it. I always tell people that art is in my blood. Just as any regular person needs air to breathe, art sustains me. It is my passion. Always has been.

When it comes to art, I am constantly trying to learn and improve who I am and be better than I was the day before. When I was growing up, I was lucky to have artist friends who I looked to not only as friends but also as competitors. I admired their art and their skills and I quietly pushed myself to reach and surpass their level of skill. Of course, these things are all subjective, but I still used them as a catalyst for pushing myself beyond where I had been.

When I became a senior in high school, I learned there were schools completely dedicated to art and nothing else. This notion blew my mind. Of course, looking back, it makes total sense that these institutions would exist, but at the time I had no idea that this passion that everyone called a hobby could be my main career.

My mother always encouraged me to follow my dreams and do what I love. I still didn’t know the specifics of what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to go to art school. So when I approached her with the idea of pursuing an art degree she supported me all the way. I ended up attending the Kansas City Art Institute and graduating with a BFA in Animation. Which led me to the biggest dream of all, owning my own animation studio.

However, I did not graduate and jump into a fulfilling animation career. That year our country was in a recession and St. Louis is not a large center for the animation industry. The smaller companies here loved my work but weren’t hiring at the time due to the economy, so I decided to make my own way.

I created my own website and business called Ambrosia Rae Designs. I started posting my art on products at websites like Zazzle and Café Press, while I also attempted freelancing. I worked hard but struggled with gaining exposure and income. I learned quickly that what online makes look so easy to acheive really isn’t. I decided then if I wanted to make money with my art on products, I would need to take things into my own hands and start producing everything in house.

I shifted from working on art full time to working full time in customer service. In my free time I practiced and refined my digital art skills while also looking into various machines and tools required to make the things that I was interested in. I used my full time job to invest in myself and the machines I needed in order to build Ambrosia Rae Designs. Those same investments help me to do what I am doing today.

While I was working I also used my colleagues as a springboard for my art and products. They were always extremely supportive by purchasing, commissioning custom work, and encouraging me to keep going so that I could do what I loved. After four years, I found myself laid off from my full time job and decided to take a chance at pursing full time art once again. I decided I could transition by doing craft shows and conventions. But I felt that I needed a better product specifically aimed at my new customer base.

This is when I invented my Chibi Charms. Little polymer clay people of popular fandoms. Made completely by hand, I mold the clay and hand paint them. Their entire purpose is to be completely adorable and make people smile. And they have been a HUGE success at doing just that. I had the pleasure of selling these little guys in St. Louis, Los Angeles and Indiana. But no matter where they are, everyone finds them irresistibly cute.

All the while, I have continued to expand my product base at Ambrosia Rae Designs. I have a love for fashion and worked hard to find a way I could bring my original designs and ideas to apparel. There are many style options and everything is so soft and comfortable I love them even for myself!
Over the years I’ve been able to add keychains, canvas pouches, stickers, pocket notebooks, coffee mugs, and mason jar mugs to my list of products. I do my best to create one design and have it translated to all the various product options so customers have a variety to choose from.
Ambrosia Rae Designs is my main focus but my dreams of owning my own animation studio and making feature films is still present. Three years ago I started Ambrosia Animations where I publish behind the scenes content for my longer animated projects. But as a team of one things are very slow going. Not to mention the learning process of how exactly I want to accomplish my films. But I still keep striving towards those dreams just as I did with ARD.

I want my art and animations to make people smile and inspire them. I want to light up people’s lives if even just for a second.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the years and haven’t always had the ability to push forward continuously. One has to roll with the punches of life. But one thing I will never do is give up on my dreams.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. I graduated while we were in a recession, so finding a job in my career in the Midwest, straight out of college didn’t happen for me.

In the early days, a lot of avenues I tried (freelancing & online selling) also didn’t work out. Being a new professional I didn’t have the level of confidence I needed or value understanding to be able to sell my work at the right prices. And when you freelance on an online website you are competing with a lot of other people that are willing to undercut on price.

They will charge $5 for a logo despite the fact that professionals can charge around $300. You start to think that your work isn’t of much value because you lack experience, but you won’t get anywhere doing everything for $5.

When I decided to fund myself it was hard financially. By that time my student loans had kicked in and I was paying back a lot of money while also trying to save for the tools that I needed. And since I had decided to pursue a digital art career a lot of the software and tools I needed or wanted were expensive. I really had to focus on getting only what I needed most at certain times. And then expand slowly and meticulously in later years.

Not to mention, there were quite a few investments, I made thinking that a certain tool would help make things easier for me and it ended up being a dud. It really took a lot of reviewing and taking chances on things. And even some of the tools I use today had a HUGE learning curve.

Tutorial videos make it look easy, but usually, they aren’t. Especially for me, as I’m always somehow trying to use it in a way other people aren’t. Not to say an unintended use. But I am creative through and through and I tend to think outside the box. I can see a machine I have and say “Oh, I can probably use it to do this also.”

The biggest obstacle, however, is just life. Life throws you curveballs, things you never anticipated. Which can be great! But you have to restructure and rethink how you are going to do everything. I became a mother four years ago and it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

But those early years left very little time for me to work on my career as babies are so demanding of your attention. So, I decided to take some time off for that. I did work in that time, but a lot less. I don’t regret it at all, but I can see how life would be very different today otherwise.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Mainly, those who know me, know me for my art and products through my business Ambrosia Rae Designs. I create a lot of cute and adorable digital art that I then put on products: apparel, coffee mugs, mason jar mugs, stickers, keychains, canvas pouches, prints, and postcards.

I also make these super cute and adorable figures I call Chibi Charms. They are of popular fandoms and video games. Completely handmade and painted their one goal is to just be too darn cute.

All of my work and products are made by me and are all original concepts from me. So I have a lot of fun coming up with ideas and designs that I like and hope that others will like as well. Since this is a passion of mine I usually just let the creativity flow and whatever comes out come out.

It’s hard to pinpoint what I’m most proud of because I love everything I do. If I don’t like something I don’t do it. Ha! Overall, I’m just really proud of how far I’ve come and how well I’ve been doing recently. I’ve just started doing the craft show circuit again and the response from customers has been overwhelmingly wonderful. Without their love and support, it’s hard to keep going.

What sets me apart from others is my style. It’s not something I can describe, you just have to see it for yourself, but it is an amalgam I created by taking what I liked or was inspired by throught my life as I grew to define my art style. In the end it truly is a reflection of me. And content wise, I tend to focus on the super adorable and cute. I also like to find things that are funny or relatable. And when people see my work or my designs that really comes across.

For example, I have one design of a unicorn flipping its hair back like Ariel out of the water and the caption reads “Feeling Cute Might Delete Later”. That design gets a lot of laughs and enjoyment out of the playfulness of it.

The other thing that sets me apart is my product options. A lot of other artists are just selling prints or stickers. Maybe enamel pins if they have the money to invest. But because I make everything in the house I have a larger product base that my art is on and am always continuing to expand on that.

What matters most to you?
Making people smile, spreading joy, and love. This world can be a heavy place. We aren’t always so kind to each other even though it takes very little to be kind.

I love what I do. I make myself happy every day by making new artwork. But sharing that with the world. Making one, one hundred, or one thousand people happy off that one piece. It’s priceless.

And if you have ever seen someone receive a custom gift. Something made with thought and love and uniqueness to who they are. There’s a special joy in that. And being the one who made that gift. The one that you can’t find on a store shelf. It makes my heart shine to be able to give that special joy to someone.

Art is free. You don’t have to buy it to enjoy it. For it to make you smile. For it to change your day. All you have to do is run across it.

All I’m trying to do is make the world a brighter place one art piece at a time.

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