We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Ams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Overall, I think that the creative path was something that chose me. I was a very curious kid, who always felt kind of awkward in social situations. I didn’t have many friends when I was young, and I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Part of that was due to me still grappling with my own identity while growing up in a private religious school that wasn’t very tolerant of anything that was “outside of their box”. I was bullied a lot as a kid for being gay, before I even understood what that meant, and the arts were the only place I felt safe to express myself. However, I was very lucky to have a family that was always very supportive of me and my interests. My mom has always been very creative. When I was young, she would often draw, and write poems, and songs, and I was always so inspired by her versatility. As I got older, art, music, and theatre classes became my sanctuary. I would gravitate toward any creative outlet I could find, partly because of how good it felt to make things, but also because the act of creating gave me some sense of control in an environment where I otherwise had none. I immersed myself in so many creative things that, over time, they eventually sort of became a part of me – like breathing. For me, there was never a specific moment where I felt like I had to choose between a creative career, or something else. I had already laid the path for myself, and while I still had to choose my focus areas, I couldn’t imagine doing work where creativity wasn’t a part of my everyday discipline. The act of creating can be very healing, and that’s why I am and will continue to be a steadfast supporter of the creative spirit in all of its forms.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2010, I moved to NYC from my hometown of Detroit, MI. At the time, I didn’t really know anyone in the city, and barely had enough money to rent out a small room in Brooklyn. I got by doing odd jobs, while steadily building my art portfolio and making friends with musicians and other creatives in the city. For a long time, it was very challenging to balance the things I was passionate about with the need to make a living and merely survive in such a giant city. I wish there was a magic element I could point to that got me through, but honestly, most of the time it was just sheer persistence and a consistent belief that I was worthy of a life that was full of the creative things I loved to do.

Eventually, I started a funk/ soul band (Chris Ams and The Favorite States) with some friends, and ended up holding a multi-year residency at NYC’s legendary Bitter End, on top of performing with some of the biggest names in soul music: The Funk Brothers, Dennis Coffey, James Jameson Jr, The Four Tops, and more. We released a self-titled Motown-inspired album in March of 2020. (www.favoritestatesmusic.com)

When I wasn’t making music, and juggling survival jobs, I was working on honing my skills and style as a visual artist. I have always had a deep connection with the natural world, and that has been the driving force behind my fine artwork. All of my fine art is composed of traditional mediums (graphite, acrylics and oils) and stands as both a reflection on our human relationship with time, and our deep, primal, and spiritual connection with nature. (www.chrisamsart.com)

My illustrative work tends to lean into the fantasy genre, and is created digitally in some cases, although I’m definitely still connected to my inner kid and have loved doing playful illustrations for children’s books as well.

Through everything, my mission has been creative freedom, and I want to empower others to find that in whatever authentic way that means for them. We’ve lived in a society where the idea of conformity has been much more encouraged than creativity has. Thankfully, some of those belief systems are currently shifting a bit, but I do think that we will have healthier, more engaged, and sustainable communities when people can really connect with their own creative power. For me, all of the roads that ended up leading to nowhere were the ones I walked while trying to appease the outside world. I realized that when I followed that, I was powerless because I was constantly working to feed something that would always be hungry. True power lies in the creative authenticity that we can each bring individually to the table. Living your own truth out loud, and creating from that space makes life a whole lot richer and more meaningful.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Little Stony Point – one of the most beautiful scenic overlooks in the Hudson Valley

The Cornish Estate Ruins – beautiful hike, complete with the ruins of an abandoned/ burned down mansion


Artist collective Gallery space

Kube Art Center


Melzingah Tap House

Industrial Arts Brewing

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very, very lucky to have had so many amazing people stand with and support me on this journey. Not least are my parents and brother, who have been my biggest cheerleaders, and who have always wholeheartedly allowed me to express myself in the ways that I most needed to. My friends, Emilio Tostado, Jent LaPalm, Drew Schultz, and John Guari, who are all excellent humans and incredibly talented musicians. My dear friend and mentor, David Mixner, a true trailblazer and living legend who has inspired me in more ways than I can count. My extraordinary extended family, and my amazing husband, Will Reynolds (@willcreynolds), who is an inspiring, creative force in his own right. Grateful beyond measure for the impact that so many beautiful people have had on my life.

Website: www.chrisamsart.com

Instagram: @chrisamsart

Other: www.favoritestatesmusic.com

Image Credits
Darya Golubina

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