Creators, Makers, and Doers: Amber Conger

Posted on 12/8/15 by Arts & History

Conger 004

Amber Conger, a full-time artist residing in the outskirts of Boise, wades in all sorts of creative work. With a focus in metals, her creations range from jewelry to public art and other requested pieces. However, she did not begin encapsulated with this admirable skillset. She had the basics and the ambition; from there it was all trial, frustration, success, discovery and growth. Conger’s industrial style is perfectly juxtaposed with feminine curves paired with history, imagination and intricacy.

Conger 002

How did you get started working with metal?

Even when I was really young I knew I wanted to be an artist/entrepreneur kind of person. I knew I wanted to work for myself. At the time, I was doing faux finishes, decorative paint, and murals. I did that for about three years and built it up to where it was fairly successful but I was bored to tears, to be honest. I made the decision that this is not what I want to do forever. I had to figure out something else and I went through the list of things that artists do. From glass to pottery, but I kept coming back to the metal because you can make anything from jewelry to a high rise buildings. I knew that I would never run out of stuff to experiment with. I went out and bought a welder and my parents and everybody thought I was crazy. My husband at the time, he knew enough to get it turned on and make sure I wasn’t going to hurt myself or something. After that it was all just trial and error and a lot of online forums to try to figure it out.

Conger 023

How much time per week do you spend in your studio?

That varies. When we’re really busy it can be seven days a week for 5 to 6 hours a day, which is a lot when you’re working with metal because it’s pretty physical. Then there are other weeks where, like last week, there was kind of a lull. We caught up on all our production stuff.  I spent the week catching up on other stuff like design work. When you work for yourself you don’t really take days off it seems like. We try to take at least Sunday or Saturday and not check emails on the weekends and I try to work around the garden and stuff like that. It seems like you’re always thinking about it even if you’re not.

Conger 009

What’s the driving force behind your work?

I guess I could say when I first got started I went to the scrap yards for cheap materials to practice on and I kept dragging home gears and bearings and industrial stuff and that’s always been the core of where my designs come from. I’ll take the industrial and put it into something more whimsical or more feminine. That’s the inspiration where everything came from. So my whole brand is geared towards that and even with the trophies, we’re definitely not going to be a trophy manufacturing house, it’s still an artist that works in metal that happens to make trophies. All of my trophies have that signature whether it’s the hardware, the patinas on the metal, or whatever. They all have that feel. That, and I wanted to be independent and live the kind of lifestyle that I wanted to live instead of the full time job thing. That was really important.

Conger 005

Do you feel like Boise’s art community is thriving?

Yeah, I do, not that really I’m much a part of it. For getting started in public art, I’m so glad that I was here in Boise because I don’t think it would have been as easy anywhere else without having a portfolio to get started. I’m grateful that it was here that I got going. I don’t think it would have been near as easy anywhere else and I do think the community is thriving. I was part of the Metal Arts Guild for a while but we’re so far out of town and I’m such a homebody that I just don’t. Now that all of our stuff is online, I’ve done shows and I’ve done gallery shows and everything is coming from online now. That’s where I’m focusing my energy.

Conger 006

What kind of resources do you feel like you need to further your art career?

Well money is a big one, that’s the core of it. Cash flow is really one of the biggest challenges for any small business, not just artistic. Money, and for me, it’s been time. In the last 3 to 4 years I just haven’t had the time to pursue some of the ideas that I wanted to. Especially with the trophies, when you have people laying down the money right there and saying we need these right now, it’s hard to really pass that up. So with some extra help and streamlining our process I feel like I’ve freed up a lot of time to pursue some other things. I want to play around with some different materials , which I am a little bit, but I just got a commission from a client that we did trophies for last year and this year their theme for their convention is “Lego,” so we’ll be using Lego pieces and metals and making these cute little trophies which is kind of fun. Time is a big one, just time to be able to play around instead of deadlines.

Conger 013

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for other artists?   

Just go for it! I’ve had quite a few people, usually girls, request to come out and ask me if I can teach them to do what I do, or show them how to weld. They just want to try it to see if they like it. It’s kind of fun and I’ll always do it for a day, for free. They come out and learn and everybody is always so surprised that you can just pick it up and you can be welding within five minutes. It’s not going to be the prettiest, but you stuck stuff together and you made something. I wish that I would have had somebody like that when I got started. I just made the decision and went for it and I had to learn along the way.

Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>