A Golden State native originally from Monterey County native, Amy Burkman settled in San Diego to pursue her dream of doing art full-time to help others – devoting her art to a purpose. She devotes her art to a wide range of advocacy – cancer research organizations, children’s hospitals, animal rescues groups, and many others. It is tremendous to see and be inspired by others using their incredible skills as well as time and resources for greater good and here at Pacific Roots Magazine we are excited to share this interview with Amy and learn more about her background, artivism, advocacy and the non profit she will soon be launching.
“I was always interested in drawing people and animals. I was eight years old the first time I drew something and thought I might actually be a good artist – and the image was a cow. Growing up, my mom was the person that inspired me the most. She was always very artistic, drawing on our lunch bags and other things like that. So I think my pull toward art really comes from her more than anything.” -Amy
Interview with Amy Burkman
Your style of art is very specific- the incredible speed painting style producing works of art that look like they certainly took much more time! Where did you develop and learn this style?
Amy: Artist Stephen Fishwick trained me alongside several other artists. We would perform and educate audiences on endangered species. From there I started doing this solo and developing my own style. I wanted to have my own unique speed paintings and bring a level of detail that I didn’t necessarily see in others. My travels around the world, specifically to West Africa, where I painted murals to educate local communities about safe healthcare practices, were also very influential in developing my style. I’ve always wanted to use my art as a platform to help others and that’s my goal with every project and performance I do.
Your work connects with advocacy in many areas including animal rights and advocacy . Can you share about the sanctuaries you have worked with, the type of work and charity you do for sanctuaries and any upcoming work in this area?
Amy: I do a lot of work for animal rescues and sanctuaries including Peta, the Humane Society, Animal Rights Conference, National Animal Rights Day (NARD), Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, Kindred Spirits Care Farm, Lions, Tigers & Bears Rescue, Gentle Barn, Labrador Rescuers, Helen Woodward Animal Center, and Elephant Nature Park.
I help these organizations raise money through live art performances. For many performances, I’ll do a custom speed painting of one of the rescue/sanctuary’s animal to help maximize the amount of money raised. I also do volunteer work. My next volunteer trip will be a mural project for the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai, Thailand. I plan on doing similar projects in the future creating more murals to promote veganism and animal rights.
Your experience with cancer has informed some of the work you do with non-profits? Can you share more about that?
Amy: I want to help any organization. However, with my personal experience with cancer, not only am I able to raise money through art but I can also share my story of how I used my experience with cancer to follow my dreams of doing art full-time to help others.
Your current life and work, devoting your craft and art to a purpose and greater good, was also very much informed by that health experience as you quit your job and decided to embark on a path of truly your own choosing. How does it feel now some years later, experiencing the developments, connections, friendships and work that have transpired since?
Amy: Thinking back to where I was five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, it reminds me that no matter what challenges I might be faced with, I’m resilient and I’m a survivor. It reminds me that even though hard things might be happening that you can overcome those and it can lead you to a better path than you ever imagined. I’m thankful for those challenges. I try to be grateful every day for the connections, friends and everything that has transpired since.
You are establishing a non-profit soon. Can you tell us more about this- the decision to establish a non-profit to expand your work giving back through art?
Amy: Yes, me and my Business Admin, Seana, are establishing a nonprofit soon. Our hope with starting a nonprofit is to do even more than what we’re doing now to help others through art. Our goal is to secure grants and more sponsorships so we can create educational and inspirational murals in different parts of the world as well as continue raising money for animal rights groups and other charities. Eventually, we’d also like to bring on more artists so we can continue to expand our reach and do even more good for others through art.
Also, I am glad to have caught you for an interview to feature in the Summer launch of Pacific Roots Magazine as you are about to embark on a journey this Summer to Thailand. Can you share about what you are heading to Thailand for as well as any other upcoming plans.
Amy: I met Elephant Nature Park’s founder and incredible animal activist Lek Chailert a few months ago at a fundraiser where I performed to help raise money for the Elephant Nature Park and all the incredible work they’re doing not only to save elephants and so many other animals but also through education and activism. Lek invited me to come and stay at the Nature Park so I jumped at the opportunity and will be creating murals there. My hope is to continue helping them every year with fundraising and also volunteering with elephants!
Visit Amy at https://amyburkman.com/
Feature & Interview by Annika Lundkvist at Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk