Amanda Valentine is an accomplished fashion designer proudly based in Nashville, Tennessee where she runs her firm Valentine Valentine. The only reality show I will watch with my wife is Project Runway. I’m willing to bet I’m not the target demographic for the show: white straight male sports fan. However, I find the contestants incredibly talented and the art sublime. One of our favorite contestants over the years has been two-time contestant Amanda Valentine. She comes from a talented family that includes a medical doctor and the guitarist from Maroon 5.
Describe your creative process. I’m consistently influenced by music. I often get obsessed with a new music movement or a new tiny indie band or a scene… and I essentially want people to feel something they feel when they listen to a certain song. Music is amazing at smacking you on the forehead with nostalgia and hope for the future all at the same time. If I wasn’t a designer, I would be playing bass in a metal band. No question. And at this point I have a bit of a formula- combining something pop culture/graphic with something rich/antique. I love opposites, dissonance. One of my favorite collections was called “French Medieval Fly Girl.”
You come from the Royal Tenenbaums of Mormon families. Do you think all of the high-achievers in your family helped you or hurt you? Both? For years I felt like the black sheep or the underachiever. I rebelled young and loudly. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but well into my 20’s I resented the success of others. I thought if there were already doctors or rock stars or successful parents, what was left for me? Now in my mid-30’s I realize I was dramatically emo about it all and I’m fiercely proud of and protective of my family. No one understands us like each other. We are a unique club of workaholics.
You run your own business now. Ever imagine that one day you would be worrying about payroll? Oh it was the LAST thing on my mind when I was shredding fabric and painting hieroglyphics on maxi dresses! I still want to run and hide from it all, but it is a necessary evil. I want to be punk rock about it and not worry about money or organization but I also want to keep working for myself and employing amazing people. It is a constant, constant struggle. I’ve learned from mentors and continue to just find smarter people to give me advice. I’m now working on the balance of taking advice and trusting my gut–crucial in art AND business.
What sparks your creativity? Every city I visit, I first visit the museum. I love music, I love film, I love it all. I think it’s our job as artists to keep our eyes and ears open to everything so that we can have a catalogue of sorts to draw from when we go to work. I’m especially influenced by the “craft” arts of societies. West African beading, Guatemalan weaving, Turkish jewelry, and American quilting. Those “practical crafts” are the documentations of entire civilizations.
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