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Artisan Spotlight: Amanda T.

Amanda Topich doesn’t just shoot photographs. She captures memories.

And as regular customers at the Blue Umbrella know, those memories make for nice keepsakes to hang on a wall, frame atop a desk or wrap up as a gift.

Amanda is autistic, and so her work reflects her unique perspective as she photographs subjects like bridges, boats and new places she visits.

“My biggest strength is my imagination,” Amanda says. “I have a knack of seeing things differently than most people, which makes me a good photographer.”

Amanda has been shooting photos for more than 5 years. Her first real introduction to the skill came through a class at Arkansas State University in Beebe. She found she had a talent for it and it was fun to do, and then she just “never stopped.”

She has no plans to slow down going forward, either. Amanda notes that her photography and her artwork -- she also paints and draws -- give her a sense of “purpose in life.” And the money she makes selling her photos at the Blue Umbrella support one of two things: supplies for new artwork or trips where she can find new subjects to feature in her pieces.

Amanda has achieved this despite some hurdles.

“Being autistic comes with a lot of challenges, from being incredibly shy to getting overwhelmed easily,” she says. “I’ve learned that there’s always a way to deal with any challenge that comes up. What’s been most important to me is having a great support system to assist me in overcoming these challenges.”

You can find several of Amanda’s photos for sale at the Blue Umbrella now, and she plans to add more to the shelves in the future. But one day, Amanda hopes to have her own business that showcases not just her art, but works “from other people that may be disabled.”

Art and photography have had such a positive impact on her life, so Amanda wants to make sure others have the same opportunity and enjoy those same rewards.

And what message would she give would-be artists, especially those who might have doubts?

“I would tell them to be themselves,” she says, “and embrace your own personal creativity to find your happiness.”

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