Meet Amber Locke: Accidental veg artist, cookbook author and colourful creative
When we first met Amber Locke we were instantly connected by the commonality of our missions: to inspire the world to eat more plants. Amber does so by creating stunning compositions that have made her Instagram-famous as the Raw Vegan Blonde.
Her carefully crafted images feature fruit, vegetable, herbs, flowers and all that is colourful and natural. Her passion for food led her into exploring veganism, a dietary preference that she celebrates in conjunction with her love of raw foods.
Amber is the talent behind the artwork on our packaging (our stunning “Veg Art”) and the author of several cook books including Nourish and Savour. She joins us here to talk about her journey so far and the exciting things that lie ahead.
What inspired you to lay colourful fruit and veg on a canvas?
I started experimenting with a raw food diet (eating purely raw fruit and vegetables and a few nuts and seeds) in Summer ’13. I think that being surrounded by far more fresh produce than normal and finding a new appreciation of fruit and vegetables made me start to look at them in a different way.
Also, when you eat raw it makes you feel so good: I felt happy and relaxed with improved mental clarity and so much more energy. I’m sure these things made me feel more creative too.
Up until that point I’d not really done anything artistic since A level art, which was a VERY long time ago(!), but one day I had the urge to lay out a few fruit with some colourful autumn leaves that were blowing about outside my back door. I swept our big flagstone step, arranged the ingredients, took a quick snap and posted it on Instagram and well…that was that.
When did you have the magical realization that you could make veg art a full-time passion?
I was approached to create a series of artworks for a book on juicing in 2014. It was this, as my first commission, that made me appreciate it might be possible to turn my little hobby into something more. After that, enquiries for work just gradually built and my business wonderfully grew and developed almost all by itself.
Do you start with a precise image in mind or does the picture build in the moment?
Unless I’m working to a specific client brief I normally create a design as I go along. I love the spontaneity of cutting up ingredients and going with the flow of how they look at that moment in time and embracing the freedom of letting the art form itself.
What is the most challenging part of making veg art?
For me the difficulty is always knowing when to stop! Accepting that a design or artwork is complete and finished can often be a challenge, as it’s compelling to keep tweaking or repositioning ingredients or adding in extra elements and finer details. It’s often only a time constraint, the light fading, or my phone ringing that drags me away and forces me to stop.
There are so many beautiful elements to your creations: layers of colour, textures, shapes. Do you think in terms of layering the ingredients?
Thank you for the lovely compliment! I’m always fascinated by the infinite variety of colours, textures, shapes and characters of different ingredients and how, when you cut them in certain ways, you can give them a completely different look. I love to play with colours and also combine big bold ingredient with delicate and more elegant elements. It’s this mixture of things that I think gives my work visual interest. I always try to make sure each design has a good energetic and visual flow through the piece and by layering up elements it can also give it a 3D like quality. However, sometimes the layering up is just me not being able to stop!
What has been the most exciting part of working with BOL?
Team BOL! It’s been an absolute joy to work with such an enthusiastic, inspiring and positive team, especially having some of you join me in my studio in Derbyshire. It’s such a treat when you visit!
I’ve loved all the projects we’ve worked on together and it’s really thrilling to see the finished results on pack and on the supermarket shelf. I always feel so proud to see them there.
What do you do with the produce once you’ve shot it?
Unless I’m working on-site for a client or on a location shoot I always try to ‘recycle’ the ingredients I’ve used into a juice, soup, smoothie or salad. If things have badly wilted or really dried out on a hot day I’ll either put them outside for the birds and wild animals to eat (our garden squirrels are crazy for mangoes and avocados!) or put them in our compost heap which gets dug back into the garden.
Are there any exciting projects in the pipeline that you can share?
I’m working on several very exciting projects at the moment that I can’t mention yet unfortunately, but I’ll be sharing them on Instagram as soon as I can! I’m also currently writing my third book and developing a new range of artwork which will be released later this year.
You are also a cookbook author and passionate raw vegan cook. What is the most exciting thing you have made recently and why?
That’s a really hard question as I tend to get excited about everything I make! However I’ve had great fun recently experimenting with raw chocolate, nut cheeses and creating some new fermented and dehydrated recipes. I’m also just setting a new herb bed in my garden at home with lots of ancient and medicinal herb varieties, so I have lots of plans for those when they grow!
Just for the record, team BOL loves working with Amber as well (!). It's such a privilege to collaborate with wonderful, talented and kind people like Amber. Take a look at her work on Instagram or head to her website to explore more of her work.