It’s hard to remember a time before the internet, isn’t it? It’s completely changed the course of our lives. Personally, it’s led me to my current work and creative pursuits and introduced me to countless inspiring women – including today’s guest, Amanda Sandlin.
I first virtually “met” Amanda when she was working in her last job. We traded a few emails and online exchanges – and I followed her pursuits on social media. I was always enamored with her graphic work – her illustrations, playful typography and overall aesthetic is totally up my alley.
Amanda is an incredible artist, a soulful explorer and a steward of the planet. I love that she dropped the full-time gig to start her own business and take to the road (literally). Her adventurous spirit inspires me every time I see her online. I can’t wait for you to get to know her a bit better today!
Thanks so much for joining me for this chat Amanda! I’m honored to get to share a bit about you with our readers. To start – tell us about you – what you do, create and love.
This feels like such a loaded question to me, because I want to say I am from everywhere, I do a little bit of everything, and I love it all!
If I had to sum it up in a brief statement (or two), it would be this: I am a freelance graphic artist currently traveling around North America in my minivan. What I love most is fairly simple — to experience life fully and encourage others to do the same.
I love that. Simplicity is refreshing! Why did you decide to make the leap, live in a minivan and work for yourself? And tell us about your latest project #atwildwoman.
I made the leap to full-time freelance after a very intense year working as a designer for an online company. Being constantly stressed and working crazy long hours made me realize I don’t want to do that unless it’s for myself. So, I decided to do just that!
More recently, I have started a creative project called #atwildwoman. While living for a year in New Zealand with my boyfriend at the time, I began to reflect on what it means to be an independent, adventurous, creative woman. That’s when the #atwildwoman was born. She is everything I aspire to be — happiest by the mountains or the sea; in no hurry; searching for truth; never in need of validation; a bit restless; alone without feeling lonely. Every week I write about my experience as a solo woman on the road and draw a corresponding #atwildwoman to go with the week’s experience
I LOVE that you’re exploring this idea of being a wild woman and bringing your artwork into the mix as well. I’ve been following along, it’s poignant and beautiful. What do you feel is most important about the work you do in the world?
I do what I do because I have no other choice; I must. But it always feels like a little nod from the universe when someone will comment or email and say “That’s EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling. I needed to hear that so much. Thank you for sharing your truth.”
I guess I just want to share my experiences and hope that gives others solace in knowing they are not alone. There is so much glitz and glam and shallowness on the Internet. I like to go deeper and speak transparently about the highs and lows of choosing to follow your dreams.
It really is inspiring to witness others go deep and share those experiences. There’s such courage and boldness (and realness) in it, that I think we all find a breath of fresh air. So…I know it’s not always cupcakes and rainbows doing your own thing. How do you stay motivated or inspired in work/life?
I don’t. When the inevitable “winter” phase appears in my business and/or life I try to embrace it and give myself grace to be still. I remind myself that summer will come again, and it will be glorious!
Officially my favorite answer to that question. Yes, yes, yes! I couldn’t agree more – it’s so important to embrace the down times as much as we look forward to the lighter ones. What would you say is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome since starting this new adventure? What helped you get over that hurdle?
My biggest obstacle has been self-doubt. For the first year in my business, it sabotaged my ability to make money and even sent me in an intense downward spiral of anxiety and depression.
Having a strong, supportive creative community (even if it’s just virtual) has helped me so much, as well as partaking in a daily grounding practice. At some point after the first year, I realized what the stress was doing to my mental and emotional health. I finally surrendered and forgave myself for every doubt, “failure”, worry, and less-than-perfect moment (aka all of them). Forgiveness is the answer to almost anything.
Truth (forgiveness is everything). You mentioned having a strong supportive community is important to you. Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
My business idol from the beginning has been Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor company Patagonia. His commitment to sustainable environmental and ethical practices absolutely inspires me. Even though he’s created this incredibly successful clothing company, he’s never considered himself a business person. He believes in working to live, not living to work, and that’s something I’ve always admired. I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that.
Sounds like my kinda guy. This next question is related to our mantra at The Girl Who Knows – what does it mean to you, to live a life, and have a business with Soul?
Cutting the bullshit. There’s so much of it in business. Every time I get on the phone with a client, I aim to be honest, kind, and transparent. I suppose I approach social media, writing, and art all in the same way. To me, soul = showing up and being real.
Yessss! Cut. The. Shit. #thankyouverymuch On an unrelated note – what’s your dream way to spend your birthday?
My birthday is in late October, so I immediately think of a cup of coffee outside in crisp fall morning air. Books, writing, music, friends, good food, a campfire, and a bottle of wine would all follow.
I love that – fall is such a beautiful time for a celebration. Ok, lightning round – what are 5 things you can’t live without (like ever)?
- Pen & paper
- A good book
What are the top places you’d send me if I was retracing your travel adventures?
- The remote Kawakawa Bay, New Zealand (only accessible by a hired boat!)
- Zephyr Cafe in Squamish, BC
- Backpacking to Ireland Lake in Yosemite
What you’re working on right now that feels like a celebration?
As I write this I’m about to head west in my van for summer — I’ve got Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia on my mind!
If you knew then, what you know now, what message would you have for your younger self?
You don’t have to struggle. Loosen your grip, let it be easy, and trust that you’ll be okay.
And finally — what is one thing you know to be true?
I know . . . that there’s always more to know. 🙂
. . . . . .
Isn’t that the truth? I can’t get over how creative, curious and courageous Amanda is. She is proof that it’s entirely possible to live simply, prioritize the things that matter to you and have adventures on the daily. I am so grateful we had the chance to get to know this gem of a woman today!
Thank you for your commitment to living your truth Amanda – and for inspiring us all with each and every illustration and word you write. I can’t wait to see where the road leads you!
Be sure to visit Amanda’s website to learn more about her work (and how you can work with her), and also say hi over on Instagram (where you can sample her incredible illustrations and keep tabs on her adventures).
I’ll catch you back here again soon with another fascinating creative woman who is rocking entrepreneurship and doing it all with soul. Stay tuned!