Meet Amanda Czarnik, the newest #WomanofHouston. Amanda is a Visual Designer at Sapient Global Markets, active member of Watermark at Houston’s First Downtown, and artist behind instagram.com/love_barbs. Amanda is a great example of a person who is living life fully, passionately and with purpose. She takes great pride in her work, community and faith. We are honored to feature her on Alinely.
Can you tell us about your role as a Visual Designer at Sapient Global Markets? I work as a Visual Designer for a company called Sapient Global Markets. I work with Business Consultants and Information Architects to create digital systems for companies to use to help to improve their current workflow. I use some Illustrator from the Adobe Creative Suite, but I mainly work in Sketch. It is a unique job, because most of the work I do is with companies outside of Houston and even some out of the US. I love the creative team I work with as well as the welcoming community Sapient offers. I am constantly being encouraged to create creative solutions. As my first job out of school I have been so blessed to be surrounded by patient people who are always willing to help and through this I have been able to learn so much over the course of this year.
You have an impressive online portfolio https://amandaczarnik.allyou.net/, can you tell us your favorite three work? My online portfolio consists of the work that I did as an undergrad at the University of Texas in Austin. I learned a lot through my experience as a student there because it enabled me to see the different areas of design that are out there and it didn’t force us into a specific area of design, allowing us the freedom to explore the best solution for real world problems and relevant issues in our community. It was a lot of hard work and long hours, but I definitely miss the community that I had working with my cohort. It was amazing to get to be surrounded by people from all different world views with the same desire to make the world a better place through the act of creation. I can’t stress enough how cool my classmates were, totally rock stars in the design realm and I am so proud of all the work they are doing in their own communities now. Working with people as passionate as they were developed in me a desire to continue even when projects and timelines seemed daunting.
- One project that we worked on as collaboration was a book, 512stew, made of a collection of Zines about the city of Austin. Everyone was able to show their own personality through their work and it turned into a beautiful embodiment of the diversity in our small group. The focus of my portion was on religion in the Austin area. Growing up in a Christian home and a heavily Christian community I was never fully exposed to religions different than my own. I believed that the best way to share my own faith was to respectfully attempt to understand where people raised differently than I was coming from. You cannot expect someone to want to listen to the truth you believe in without willing listen to theirs. I explored a few of the many different places of worship in the Austin community and asked people about their worldviews. I was also able to put up a box in the dorm I was living in that asked people what religion meant to them, the responses were amazing and really helped me to understand my community better. Something I am extremely passionate about is the concept of empathy, I think that this is something that is missing in the world we have today- without listening to people who are different than ourselves only results in a divisive culture that will never make any progress toward a collective solution. I don’t think it is possible to hate another person once you learn their story, their history- every person is made up of the collection of experiences they have gone through in life, everyone has a reason for the way they are; and I think Jesus’ teachings are a prime example of this belief. He met people where they were without judgment or hatred. He spoke truth into the lives of people, he corrected them when they were wrong, but he never turned anyone away because they were not worthy of his unconditional love and grace. Truth is truth, but no one is going to listen or believe in it unless we meet people were they are with humility.
- Another project that I worked on was an assignment that asked us to create a typographical installation in our own community. I wanted to spread a positive message and chose to create letters out of cardboard that spelled out the word HOPE. It was probably an overly ambitious project to take on in the span of a weekend, but I had the help of extremely selfless friends and classmates. After constructing the piece, I set it out in a common shopping strip across from the UT campus, I left the piece there for what could only have been about fifteen minutes while I grabbed the rest of the supplies I needed and by the time I returned there were about four or five police cars in front of it and a sanitation vehicle with the now very sad and smashed letters HOPE in the back of it. With the help of a braver friend than myself I went over to try and understand what happened and learned that the letters had been thrown into the street, when a sanitation employee came to pick them out of the street someone yelled a racial slur and the police were called and because the shopping strip was past the campus line the Austin PD had to be involved rather than the university’s own police department. All in all the situation was pretty humorous in an ironic way and the compassionate police officers helped me move the now very battered HOPE onto the university grounds. I placed a sign in front of the letters and asked people to cover it with sticky-notes with reasons why they had hope. Through the responses I got and the kindness of complete strangers my hope in humanity was restored lol.
- My Senior thesis project was based on an issue very near and dear to my heart. I wanted to create something that would help people suffering with mental illness. My heart hurts for people going through this illness and I really wanted to create a proposal for something to help. Through research and interviews I chose to focus on the issue of isolation that comes out of dealing with this issue. The problem with mental illness is that because people don’t want to burden other people with the weight of their emotions a huge division is caused between them and their loved ones. I wanted to bridge the gap between these two personas. My proposal was to create an app that used the apple watch and mobile app that let the person dealing with their illness to communicate to their loved ones as well as helping them track their mood throughout the day to gather this data to share with their doctors who could then better understand their needs and provide the best solutions to help them. Mental illness is such a difficult issue to deal with because of the stigma behind it and because every person deals with it differently because a lot of it exists on a spectrum so every treatment plan has to be specifically tailored for each individual.
Please tell us about Barbara and love_barbs Instagram account. My cat, Barbara is a foster failure. My roommate and I decided that we were going to foster to kittens through the organization called Austin Pets Alive (a no kill shelter in the Austin area – there is also one in Houston if you are interested in adoption or fostering). We got attached as expected and I ended up adopting Barbara while my roommate adopted her brother Bobby. Barbs has become such a sweet companion to me that I cannot stress enough she is such a life saver. If you need some encouragement in life get a pet, they love unconditionally and are always happy to greet you after a long day of work. Barbs is a pretty quirky cat and inspired by a drawing class I am taking through the Houston Art League I wanted to begin to draw a cartoon of her with her antics and thought the best way to share my progress though her own Instagram account. It is a pretty silly thing to do, but it helps me to create a consistent lifestyle of drawing, hopefully, you can see my progress throughout the rest of the year.
Please tell us about your involvement with Watermark at Houston’s First Downtown. Watermark is a young adult Bible study class held every Sunday through the downtown location of Houston First Baptist Church. I have never felt more welcome into a church community than I have through the people there. Everyone there is unique and quirky joined together for a love for Christ and a deep compassion for the community of downtown Houston. I have learned a lot through the class especially through the women’s small group. The women I have met through this group are from all over the world which is so cool to be a part of. They are all so encouraging to each other and are willing to listen to the problems we face in every aspect of life. This year I have learned the importance of community in my Christian walk.
Can you tell us about Unique Student Ministries Performance Art? A few years ago I was able to work with a team of middle school students through an organization called World Changers, my Youth Pastor got me out of my comfort zone and put me in charge of helping these students to create a mural in a special needs working environment. This organization allows special needs adults to work in a job that they otherwise might never have the opportunity to. The owner’s wanted to create an environment that was fun and uplifting to work in so they asked World Changers to come in and paint a mural on the inside walls of the building. The students and I designed a plan for the walls and worked for a week on it to create a piece that they were all proud of. I believe the act of creating something really builds confidence in people of all ages. Since then I have been able to teach private painting classes in my home, public painting classes on mission trips, and with the Star of Hope Homeless shelter. I cannot describe the feeling I get when I am able to help someone gain the confidence they need to create something beautiful. I believe we were all created with a desire to create and when give a few tools and tips the potential is limitless. I hope to someday create a space for people to come to and feel comfortable to create in.
You painted a mural in your hometown, can you tell us about it? I have, through the encouragement of many members of the church community, to do some live paintings during worship sessions. I love when I have the opportunity to do this because I think it shows people that worship doesn’t have to fit into a specific box or medium. We all have talents within us through the way God has designed us, and I hope through some of my work people will be encouraged to not be afraid to express their own.
How do you like Houston so far? I am from Kingwood Texas and moved to Austin for school for four years and after being offered a job in Houston ended up moving back to the city. I didn’t expect come to love the city as much as I have this year. It is so unique with the people it attracts from all over the world, everyday I feel like I get to travel to all over the world from the people I meet, the art community as well as the immense amount of food options the city offers. I especially have come to love some of the Indian and Thai food in the tunnels under the city. There is also an abundance of coffee shops I love to people watch in- Black Hole has been my favorite so far. As for cooking, I am not as consistent as I should be, but during high school and college I worked at a bakery in Kingwood called Elite Treats and since then I have developed a love for baking and a snob when it comes to chocolate quality (seriously it makes a difference).
For exercise I try and get up early in the morning before work and walk through Hermann Park. I also love to take yoga sessions through Black Swan Yoga, a donation based hot yoga studio- it is seriously my favorite thing, I am not in any means good at yoga, but I love the peaceful feeling you get during sessions when you have to fully devote yourself to being in the moment to maintain balance. The smoothie place, Juiceland, inside the studio is also amazing (I highly recommend the Moontower).
I am a firm believer in the public transportation system, specifically the Metro-rail, if you really want to know your city take the bus or the train- people from all different parts of the city use it and it truly makes you realize that the world is so much bigger than yourself.
In terms of make-up I don’t really stick to any one brand. I use foundation from Revlon called Photoready BB Cream. I use Almay’s One Coat hypoallergenic black mascara. When I use eyeliner and blush it is from Ulta. I have also started to wear a few products from a company called Julep, you can go online and set up a profile and they will send you recommended products picked specifically for you every month- so far I have been super happy with what they have sent me- lipstick, highlighter and eye shadow as well as an assortment of nail polish. As for skincare I have been stuck on the charcoal trend, so I have been using different products with it in it. As for haircare I am super happy with the Pantene Classic clean shampoo as well as trying out the dry-shampoo trend.
For clothing I like to shop at thrift stores, like Goodwill and Buffalo Exchange- I can’t pass up a bargain and you can find treasures that no one else has. Because I am a smaller person height- wise I have found that Loft carries a lot of petite clothing items that are work appropriate. I have just started using a company called Stitch Fix where you set up an account and they send you items suggested for you based on your profile – you can even link your Pinterest boards to it. I have loved a lot of the items they have sent me so far, but they can get pretty pricey.
- Outfit 1- Both the top and jeans were sent to me through Stitch Fix- my shoes are from a thrift store.
- Outfit 2 – From a Boutique in Kingwood
- Outfit 3 – Top from Forever21, skirt from Loft, Jewelry from Vi Bella – https://www.vibellajewelry.com/ – “The Vi Bella story has grown to provide employment, education, and opportunity to more than 30 artisans in Haiti, Mexico, and right here in the United States. We also partner with organizations that provide employment in India and Ecuador.”
- Outfit 4 – Dress is from Loft, Necklace is from Altardstate http://www.altardstate.com/shop/
- Outfit 5 – Shirt from Etsy, Jeans from Stitch Fix, Vans from a thrift store
Photos are unfiltered and unedited. Photography by A. Pham