Behind closed doors, relationships might not be all sunshine and rainbows. But the honest representation of everyday life in a long-term relationship rather than the faked and filtered portrayal we see a lot of on social media or movies is what people can truly relate to. It doesn’t mean that living in a relationship is dull or less beautiful; on the contrary, love can be found in the smallest things, we just have to learn to notice them. Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Oleander draws lighthearted illustrations to show what love looks like when no one’s watching in the most mundane way—from pimple popping to crying together to no-shave and no-pants lifestyle.
Over one million people on Instagram are drawn to the artist’s dear-to-heart snippets of life and you will understand why after this post. Don’t forget to check out more of Oleander’s cute illustrations previously shared on Bored Panda here and here.
Inspired by her own romantic relationship with her now husband, whom she has been married to for over a year, and true stories of people around her, she is revealing an intimate and genuine side of relationships that might not always be so glamorous. Ideas that come from raw, personal life experiences is what makes her art so heartwarming. Oleander’s unique style packed with intricate details and subtle humor is able to convey the sense of authenticity and emotions we experience in our daily routine. The artist herself describes her work as figurative and colorful.
The artist told Bored Panda that she is enthralled by the way people behave when no one sees them. The scenarios she portrays in her genuine illustrations are as real as it gets and they show that love can be simple.
“I create the artwork that I do because it's a way for me to lock in a moment in time authentically that was never photographed, and even if it were to be photographed, it might alter the reality of it because we know we are being photographed. Viewing my art is like being a fly on the wall.
I'm not creating art to please other people or creating art from experiences I don't personally understand or have lived through. I am creating from the truest, deepest part of me and my personal experiences.”
“I think it's important to share the reality of relationships for many reasons,” says Oleander. “My reality in my personal relationship might be very different from another person's reality or very similar. I think it's important because some people might feel comfort in the artwork, others might feel like they haven't experienced this type of love and it's something to look forward to. Some might feel seen. I think every person will experience the art differently depending on their life experiences, but at the end of the day, it makes people feel something and that is important.”
Oleader’s husband is very supportive and doesn’t mind their life being shared with over 1M people across the globe.
“He loves it. Every day, when I finish an art piece, he comes into the art studio to take a peep and shows as much enthusiasm for the 600th drawing as he did for the 6th drawing of us. It's really sweet and motivating for me to see how much happiness it brings him to see our moments immortalized by art.”
Romance and long-term relationships aren’t the only subjects she tackles in her quirky illustrations, so even if you are "forever" alone, you will be able to find yourself in Amanda’s work. She regularly highlights other types of love in a similarly realistic way, such as relationships with family and friends, affection towards pets, and self-love. She isn’t afraid to be true to herself and depict characters as they really are–exhausted, with hair in the weirdest places, ingrown disasters, and other brutally honest women's struggles. Many of her illustrations have a metaphorical deeper meaning with a story behind them. They often reflect on relatable topics such as finding your identity and self-growth as well as global problems everyone has to deal with, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Amanda often engages her audience by inviting them to interpret her drawings before reading her explanation.
Oleander loved drawing and painting since she can remember and considers finding her passion in life as her biggest accomplishment.
“Life is constantly changing, new experiences are always happening. My art goes hand in hand with my personal life experiences so there's always more to illustrate. I love illustrating and painting, it's where a lot of my happiness comes from.”
The artist walked us through the creative process behind her hand-drawn illustrations.
“When I first get an idea, I write it down in my ideas notepad. Sometimes the idea comes to me right before I am falling asleep and I always get up to write it down. I keep a long list of ideas (personal experiences) always handy. When I'm ready to create, I sit at my desk and pick one to illustrate. I start off with pencil, then outline the drawing with pen and then I color it in with markers.”
Authenticity being the key element of Oleander’s growing popularity, the artist gives valuable advice to young artists on how to stay true to their work:
“Create art from topics that are important to you, experiences that come from your soul. Especially when you show your art to the public, you will get people that will try to change you. People will ask you to draw what they want to see, they will want you to draw people that look like them, they will want you to draw what they wish they could. If you listen to others, you will lose yourself in the process. Create what brings you joy without trying to please others. Those that connect will stick around and those that don't won't and that's okay. I get people all the time wanting me to create artwork about diseases I have never experienced or cultures I'm not too familiar with. If I listened to please others, my work would lose its authenticity. Don't let that happen to you. Every human lives a unique life and comes from a unique culture and that needs to be authentically shared in their work. An artist's job is to experience life and then create work out of it.”
Oleander is a full-time artist and has a fine arts degree. She has given talks at TedX and Art Basel, as well as running workshops on art and the business side of it all over the world. She also was honored as one of Pure Wow’s 100 Women Emerging in Culture, while her artwork has been featured on the pages of some of the biggest magazines such as New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, and The Hollywood Reporter.
With her husband, Joey, who is an actor and has been working in entertainment since 2014, they have started a podcast called “The Joey and Amanda Podcast” where they try to keep their listeners company through positivity, humor, and education. Since January of 2019, which took off from a story of how they fell in love, they’ve been talking about the topics they are fascinated and inspired by: human behavior, relationships, self-improvement, and the pursuit of passions.