Art has always been my number one mistress, for the simple fact that making SOMETHING out of NOTHING gives me more joy than I have words for. Beauty is literal sustenance for me, as crucial to my survival as food and water (helloooo, taurus moon).
Sharing intimate moments with fellow tender-hearted humans keeps me optimistic in our turbulent world, which is why I LOVE pouring my soul into collaborations in the form of tarot readings, dreamy analogue photoshoots, and ~ coming soon! ~ handpoked tattoos.
Finally, nothing turns me on quite like cosmic inquiry, personality psychology, and esoteric spiritual practises— forever on a quest to know my Self, as an embodiment of divinity with infinite prisms."
We have the absolute pleasure of carrying some of Amber's beautiful creations at Gaia!
Gaia: Amber!!!! So excited to be chatting with you.Tell us a bit about yourself. Background, upbringing, interests….
Amber: I was raised in Kamloops BC, and had a really lovely childhood surrounded by fostered animals, four brothers, and a powerful single mom who took care of all of us. I was a very creative child, and showed a lot of the same interests that are now the focus of my life. From the earliest age I remember wanting to be an artist when I grew up, and I was always interested in magical subjects, sprawling out on the floor looking at pictures in the esoteric tomes on my mom’s bookshelf– books about psychic phenomena and witchcraft, fairytales and other fantastical subjects. I loved playing classical piano, singing and playing acoustic guitar in music recitals. As a preteen I would play ‘photoshoot’ with friends, emulating fashion editorial pictures, thinking of how we could stage creative scenes in our backyards and bedrooms. I was definitely interested in beauty, the arts, and the mystery of life even then– it’s funny how we intuitively gravitate towards our soul's callings as children.
When I was 19 I moved to Vancouver, craving a big city experience, and started studying at Emily Carr University of Art and Design where I graduated with a BFA in photography. I became enthralled with film in my second year of study, and pursued the analogue medium through to the end of my degree. Most of my photographic work was about the reclamation of the feminine, and exploring different archetypes of womanhood through cinematic inspired images. I really believed (and still do) that beauty and softness and sensuality have a place in feminist work, which ran counter to the literature I was reading at the time.
About five years ago I moved to Victoria, and that’s where I’m living now!
Sharing a charming two-bedroom garden suite with my partner Clark and our cat Malik. For the past year and a half I’ve been building a small business/brand that combines all of my creative pursuits into one eclectic container known as Delicate Realms. It includes my artistic practice, making and selling artwork and creations in markets and shops across BC, my analogue photography services, and tarot readings that I offer to the community. When the pandemic hit I realized that I couldn't keep working for other people and pushing my dreams to the back-burner. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to be a career artist– unfortunately, between toxic relationships and needing to pay bills, there were a few years where I just didn’t believe in my ability to make that dream come true. Now I’m working harder than ever to make it happen! Delicate Realms is an extension of me, and the freedom and joy that I feel getting to ‘do me’ for a living is immense.
'And then the moon' collage card by Amber (We stock this card).
Gaia: What are some of your first memories of creating art?
Amber: I’ll share a vulnerable memory of creating art, because vulnerability is one of my core values and I believe we all need to start sharing the more tender, uncomfortable aspects of ourselves.
I remember being in daycare, so maybe age 8 or 9, and a few of us were seated around a table drawing. I didn’t know what to draw, so I looked over and copied the artwork of the girl beside me. It was an ocean scene with fish and flowing seaweed. She called me out for copying her, and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed! For not being able to come up with my own unique drawing at that moment. I think the wisdom/lesson in this story is profound, and still so relevant for me. Often I fall into a trap of not trusting my creative voice, or not believing I have anything ‘original’ to say. I think a lot of artists feel this way, and it’s a journey everyday to open up to my inner vision and trust it without judgment or comparison. Especially in the days of social media, where it can feel like everything has been said, and not only that, but that everyone is saying it better than we could! We have to start trusting ourselves and sharing our unique stories. I have a long way to go, but I’m committed to the process.
Gaia: What kinds of mediums do you like to work with?
Amber: As a mixed-media artist I’m voraciously curious, constantly exploring new mediums that call out to me. One of my main artistic pursuits is film photography, for the eternal love of polaroid and 35mm alchemy. I also love to draw and paint, although I would really like to work on my painting skills as they aren’t quite up to snuff. Analog collages make me super happy– I love the process of rearranging materials on a page until I get the goldilocks feeling. Beading is very meditative, and making daisy chains brings me a lot of joy. I’ve recently begun exploring block printing, and I’m already head over heels for this medium. Carving images into linoleum is very satisfying, and the end results always delight. I have exciting plans to work with up-cycled vintage fabrics, and have a few tote bag designs on the go currently. Two mediums that I’m DYING to explore are ceramics and tattooing. I always wanted to make pottery in school and never got the chance, so I’ll probably take classes at the local community center when I have more time in my schedule. Tattooing is something I’ve wanted to get into for a long time too, specifically hand poking as I feel called to the gentleness and tradition of that method. Tattoos have completely changed my relationship to my body, and have helped me see myself as a work of art and a vessel to be cherished. I would love to be able to offer that medicine to others.
'Self Portrait' by Amber, Delicate Realms
Gaia: What inspires your art?
Amber: Oh man, the well of inspiration runs deep! I’m drawn to the naive playfulness of folk art, the floral patterns and repetition of whimsical motifs, the disregard for realism. Counterculture and the 60’s flower child movement influences my life in general, psychedelia but in a way that isn’t so in your face. Fairytales and folklore, magical animals and mysterious entities. Women are a huge inspiration in my life and in my art-- the powerful nature of a woman, her creative power and connection to the moon and the earth. Outer space and starry skies are always in the back of my mind– wildflowers too. Wicca was the first spiritual realm I ever sought out/encountered as a young woman, so the reverence and worship of nature is probably the most consistent inspiration that weaves through all of my creations.
Gaia: What is one of your favourite pieces of art you created and why?
Amber: One of my favorite pieces of art is a mixed-media collage I made in the spring of last year– I actually consider the moment of its creation to be the birth of Delicate Realms. The piece is called ‘Moth Mother’, and the reason I love it so is because it is a near perfect representation of what lights my creative fire. A goddess and a magick moth, starry skies and folksy florals, a symmetrical yet imperfect placement of dried flowers I foraged in the garden. It was created in an evening of pure play and exploration, and led to an ‘aha’ moment of feeling the culmination of my inspirations come together in a piece of art that felt like me and my inner world. I want all the art I make to evoke this feeling!
'Moth Mother' Collage Card by Amber, Delicate Realms (We stock this card).
Gaia: How did you get into reading tarot?
Amber: I started dabbling in tarot maybe five years ago, pulling a card a day and reading its meaning in books, solely working on memorizing the cards. When covid hit and I got laid off from my job as a metaphysical shop manager, I finally had the time to devote myself to both art and spiritual exploration. I started studying tarot and the qabalah everyday, gobbling up as much information as I could about the esoteric meanings of the cards, their magickal correspondences and correlations to astrology and the qabalistic Tree of Life. I’ve really dedicated myself to the discipline of tarot for the past two years, reading for myself and friends, and about 6 months ago I began offering readings to the community. It’s completely enriched my experience of the cards, and I feel like I’m really able to help people with this medium which is unbelievably rewarding.
Amber reading tarot
Gaia: What decks do you like to work with?
Amber: My go-to deck for readings is the Centennial Edition of the Rider-Waite-Smith, for a few reasons. One, the images that Pamela Colman Smith created are so richly layered with symbolism, and have ample opportunity for interpretation and intuitive resonance. Two, it was the first deck I was ever drawn to as a small child, and it speaks to my subconscious in a way that other decks don’t. Three, Smith was an incredible artist and clairvoyant, and I love connecting to the spirit of this amazing woman every time I pull a card! The centennial edition is specifically my favorite, because it is her original design with hand-drawn lettering and the muted colors that she herself preferred.
My second favorite deck is probably the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini, simply because the artwork is gorgeous and I feel like if you don’t have an emotional response to the visuals of the cards, it is probably not a good deck to use!
Gaia: What are some tarot decks you know of that you would like to try working with?
Amber: I’m looking forward to working with the Enchanted Tarot (1990 edition), a recent birthday gift from my partner, as I really admire the artwork and writings of the couple who created it (Monte Farber and Amy Zerner). I’ve heard lovely things about the Motherpeace tarot, and while I don’t read with the Thoth tarot, I do get a lot of value out of Aleister Crowley's occult teachings, and I believe there's an amazing amount of depth that can be accessed through working with that deck.
Gaia: Do you believe that buying your own tarot deck is ‘bad luck’ and that they have to be gifted?
Amber: Absolutely not! This might be my Aries Sun talking, but if I want something, I go out and get it for myself and I encourage you to do the same. If you wait to be gifted a deck, you might be waiting forever, and the tarot is too beautiful to miss out on just because of superstition!
Gaia: Do you ever think about designing your own tarot deck?
Amber: Oh 100%! I have biggg dreams for future decks, lots of ideas bouncing around my brain for both tarot and untraditional oracle decks. The thing is that I would want to do every card justice as far as capturing the complex layers of meaning and symbolism. So it won’t be a project I approach lightly, and I’m waiting for the right moment in my life to be able to sink into that work with 100% of my energy available for it. Also, I feel like I’m still exploring my voice in the realm of visual arts, and I’ll want to be more confident and clear in the expression of vision when the time comes. But definitely keep your eyes peeled for Delicate Realms decks in the future. ;)
Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?
Amber: My spiritual practices really vary depending on where I’m at in my life, ebbing and flowing in phases as I age. In my mid-twenties I was diligent about observing every full moon, going out in nature where I could moon gaze until I felt my consciousness shift. That practice has fallen away over the past couple years, but I do still track the moons with my handmade lunar calendars, and carve out moments of time on new and full moons to do some introspective journaling and visioning. I’ll do occasional pentagram rituals if I feel like I need to banish unwanted energy. I’ve always kept altars in every apartment I’ve ever lived in– nothing fancy, just intentionally decorated surfaces to lay foraged flowers or rocks or tarot cards; whatever magical objects happen to be speaking to me at the time. Because Wicca was my first foray into spirituality at a young age, it definitely infuses itself into most of my practices. There is always an awareness of the aliveness of our universe, the existence of divinity in every living thing, and it feels like that’s only becoming more ingrained in my being as I age. Sometimes the smallest actions can bring about this feeling, like when I’m foraging flowers to press in books, or meditating on an image in my mind of an animal or plant or cosmic phenomena, most likely to be translated later into artwork. And of course reading tarot for myself is a consistent practice, always in awe of the sense of presence it brings, and opportunity for reflection that it offers.
Moon phase calendar by Amber, Delicate Realms (Seasonally stocked)
Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?
Amber: There are so many beautiful spiritual practices that intrigue me, it’s hard to find the time to learn about them all! I’ve been self-studying qabalah for a couple years now, after being mesmerized by an image of the Tree of Life and learning about its correlation with the tarot. It’s a deep and fascinating realm that one could really lose themselves in, as the system has many layers of complexity. If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘qabalah’, I'm referring to the syncretic system of spirituality that combines astrology, tarot, and ceremonial magick within the framework of Jewish mysticism. Occultism is one of my favorite things to learn, talk, and think about, and I’m keen to devote a good chunk of my life to diving deep into these subjects. I really admire Buddhism from a distance, although I’m honestly too hedonistic for it. I do resonate with a lot of the teachings though, and get a lot of value out of reflecting on impermanence, meditating, and connecting to my body and breath through yoga.
Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?
Amber: I think the biggest growth this past year has come from putting myself out there more in social settings and in the community in general. I’m quite introverted and it’s easy and natural for me to stay small and cozy in my hermitude, but in dedicating myself to Delicate Realms I’ve realized how important it is to make connections and be a part of the place you live in. The experiences of vending in markets, joining a book club, and giving tarot readings out of local shops have all really enriched my life this past year. Forcing myself out of the comfort zone continuously teaches me that we are all so much more capable than we think we are, and that any fear can be overcome. Conquering fear in general is an overarching mission in my life, from cold water exposure to psychedelic journeys to singing in front of strangers. If I’m afraid of something I’ll probably force myself to do it at some point.
Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2022?
Amber: I am actively working on my relationship to money and money management. It’s something I’ve shied away from my whole life, because of the discomfort it brings up in me, and because I haven’t wanted to admit just how ignorant I am around the topic. But leaning into my path as an entrepreneur and taking myself seriously as a small business owner is forcing me to grow in this realm, and I’m here for it! I’m also growing my relationship to wellness and cultivating healthier routines for my body. Commiting to a few months of regular practice at an ashtanga yoga studio, acknowledging and healing an addiction to sugar, exploring breathwork and vagus nerve stimulation– just to name a few!
Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?
Amber: I’m an Aries Sun, Taurus Moon, and Leo Rising. I definitely relate to my sun, although I feel most connected to my moon and its placement in my 10th house. The Aries in my ninth house comes through in my thirst for exploration, drive and ambition for setting goals and starting projects, my headstrong attitude and sass, and sometimes a reckless rejection of practicality and risk in the decisions I make in life. The taurus moon reflects my deep need for everything to be beautiful and grounded, my penchant for creating cozy homes for myself and my partner, and also depicts my aptitude for an artistic lifestyle. It just feels like a very nourishing placement to me, and also makes me feel like I’m on the right track as far as life paths go. The leo rising is hard for me to speak to as it conjuncts my chiron and is therefore a little sensitive, but I think one might say that it comes through in the warmth in which I greet and relate to people, in my desire for harmonious interactions and displays of creativity, and maybe even in my appearance– I have long thick hair and bold brows which I’ve been told is a leo rising giveaway.
Gaia: Tell us about more about the readings you offer and other products or services you offer?
Amber: I currently offer tarot readings in the Victoria community, and online for folks living in different areas. My approach to reading is focused on helping folks find opportunities for growth and healing in challenging situations, and inspiring a journey of self-awareness and reflection within them. I also offer analogue photography services to womxn and brands seeking untraditional images of themselves or their products, with a focus on dreamy moods, storytelling, and raw ephemeral beauty. Lastly, I am constantly creating new things for wild, free-spirited souls! Art prints, pagan calendars, jewelry, tote bags— wherever the inspiration is flowing, that’s where I’m going. You’ll find me vending in markets on the island, and you can also find my creations in shops across BC, and on my website of course.
Daisy Chain choker by Amber, Delicate Realms (We stock these)
**You could win this choker! Email us back by May 7th, 12:00am to entered to win a Sunflower Soul choker!**
Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and services?
Amber: Everything you need to know about me and my offerings you’ll find on my website www.delicaterealms.com, and my Instagram @delicate_realms!
Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?
Amber: Books on wicca and herbalism, black kyanite, silver jewelry with carnelian and amber, large specimens of tourmaline and quartz, beeswax tapers, a set of runes (I’ve been wanting to learn!), and hand-made soap.