Through this series, Community Spotlight, we are highlighting a range of designers who inspire us with their boundless imagination and resilient spirit. We hope that in doing so, they too will bring inspiration to your doorstep.

For this spotlight, we could not have been more excited to have Amy Greening share her story with us. Best known in the Design Cuts circles as Amy1 or @butfirstdoodles, Amy has been a longtime art lover and, more recently, Procreate fan. Her love for community transcends geographical boundaries, making her a vital part of our online family and a regular in all our live sessions.

Q: Hi Amy, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m Amy or Amy1 (as you may know me from the Crowdcast chats). I live in Ontario, Canada and love giving back to my community. I volunteer with the Victorian Order of Nurses, my local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Society and I mentor for the Ontario Brain Injury Association. Most days you can find me reading a book or, in the summer, tending to my garden. For the first year ever, I am attempting to grow some herbs and vegetables.

I am well on my way to fulfilling the crazy cat lady persona with a total of four cats; Romulus, Remus, Freddie and Goosie. I’ve always loved music, so much so that I wanted to name my first cat KC and the Sunshine Band. My mom settled on just KC. Not long after we got him, I gave him a bath and he ran out of the house never to be seen again! I hope he found his Sunshine Band. Thankfully, I do have better luck with cats now. 

I enjoy constantly learning new things, so aside from art tutorials, I participate in many online courses aka MOOC’s (pronounced cow sound with a hard K). One of my favourite courses I have completed thus far is Dan Ariely’s “Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour.” I would recommend checking out his popular Ted Talk, “Are we in control of our own decisions?”

Q: How long have you know about Design Cuts?

I purchased my iPad in 2019 and fell in love with using Procreate. By 2020, I began to search for new brushes beyond the standard ones in the program. At this point, I came across Design Cuts, then the pandemic hit, and thus, I purchased my first bundle. I knew that I would have more free time to explore and create and I was incredibly excited to learn more through the DC tutorials. I have now been a Design Cutter for approximately two years. Note to everyone reading this: you guys truly all feel like family and the tutorials and events are like the best family reunions. 

Q: How did you get into design?

I would say that my interest in design began when I was a young girl and my mom would take me to work with her on weekends. She was an advertising sales representative at the local newspaper. I was kept occupied by looking through one of the huge books of stock images the paper had, cutting the images out, and gluing them to blank pages. Thus began my love for rubber cement (apparently Brits call it cow gum?) and design. In hindsight, I can also see how making my own rubber balls by painting the desk with rubber cement and rolling it into spheres exposed me to a strong solvent scent that very likely kept me enthused.

In school, my love for reading and drawing intertwined through the Scholastic Book Fairs. (Schools should also think about DIY rubber ball sessions, for their Amys. I’m kidding, don’t @ me!) I remember a time where I found a book that had grid drawings, where you try to copy the example art using a grid of boxes as a guideline. I thought this was very interesting and it could keep me entertained for hours. (Sidenote: I am noticing a theme of “the need to keep Amy occupied and supplying her with art activities” here). Even today, this technique has helped me to map out my drawings. By the time I was a teenager, I transferred the skills I learned of cut and paste and grid guidelines to doing layouts for the school yearbook. 

Q: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I look for inspiration everywhere, whether that be the city, nature, etcetera. I am often inspired by designers I follow on various platforms including Pinterest and Instagram. Some of the smallest things can give me great ideas for an art piece. For example, I was sitting in my backyard today and noticed that these beautiful pink peonies had bloomed overnight and I immediately wanted to recreate that image to freeze it in time.

Q: What do you most enjoy about illustrating?

I would say that I most enjoy illustrating things that I am inspired by, whether that be people or nature. My goal when illustrating an individual is to capture their essence. For instance, in the drawing of my hippie guy, I was inspired by a particular person’s hairstyle and immediately wanted to capture the fun and good vibes that he exuded. Most of my nature drawings are botanical and recently I have been exploring the world of biophilic design, which basically delves into human beings’ innate connection to nature. Also, I have been a fan of William Morris’ designs for as long as I can remember, so my love of nature illustration is partially his doing.

Q: Where do you hope design will take you?

I am really happy with how far I have come in design and would like to continue to nurture the connections I’ve made and learn more every day. I feel that design has always been a great stress reliever and helps me appreciate the world around me. I am excited to see where this passion will take me in the next few years.  

Q: What drew you to design?

The thing that I love most about design is its freedom. Design provides this blank slate and never-ending fountain of ideas that are begging to be explored. I am able to connect with many other individuals that have this same passion for learning and creating. In this way, I feel it is very similar to music in the sense that what you produce speaks to people and even though you may not all speak the same language, everyone understands it in their own unique way.

Q: Which graphic designers do you look up to?

I would say that Asia Ellington is the graphic designer who inspired me from the start because her art made me want to purchase an iPad and Procreate. TravelWriteDraw (Meagan Morrison), a fellow Canadian, has always inspired me in the way she uses colour and portrays places and individuals with such vibrancy. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity a couple of years back to attend one of her art workshops and her personality shines through the page as much as it does in person. There are several artists that I have come to admire through Design Cuts too, but my ultimate design girl crush has to be Lisa Glanz, whose brushes give me the perfect soft and “plushy” vibe.

Q: What are your favorite DC products to use?

This question is like asking me to pick my favourite colours. I guess I would say that my personal perfect rainbow of Design Cuts products consists of Lisa Glanz’s AquaReal, Pencil and Dry Media and Effortless Gouache brushes. Then there's Nathan Brown’s Master Watercolor brushes. ShoutBAM’s Rough & Raw, Fade & Shade, Slayout Lettering brushes and their Procreate Lettering Composition Design Kit in collaboration with Debi Sementelli are the best. Last, but not least, I enjoy using Leslie Nicole’s Complete Inspirational Textures and Elements Collection. I know after I type this I’m going to remember 10 more! Thank you, DC, for continuously providing top-notch products, engaging tutorials, and attracting the best community members! You guys rock!

Thank you for letting us feature you, Amy. We hope to continue having you as a DC groupie for many years to come!

If you're interested in reading some of our other community spotlights, you might like: