YouTuber Amanda Lee, known by her channel name AmandaRachLee, boasts over a million subscribers and shows viewers how approachable art can be, with monthly bullet journal spreads, doodling, and productivity videos. Starting her channel in her freshman year of high school, Lee had to pave her own path online. Her content inspires viewers to be creative, pick up a pencil, and start doodling, with her channel’s message encouraging viewers to be creative in everyday situations. Lee discusses Asian representation, her journey as a YouTuber, and her channel’s evolution from sharing beauty and fashion content to introducing viewers to the world of creativity in our Fall 2018 issue.

So let’s start off with some background. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
So, I am 20 years old. I’m from Canada. I currently live in Toronto, and I actually started with art as a young child, but I went to an art program in high school. I started on YouTube during my freshman year. When I first started, I was doing beauty and fashion stuff. It was just for fun, as a hobby, and I loved it, but I knew it wasn’t a permanent thing. I wasn’t the best makeup artist or the most stylish, but YouTube was a fun way for me to get away from all the art that I was doing at school. As soon as I left high school, I immediately realized that I missed drawing every single day, and that’s when I kind of started integrating  art more onto my channel. I think people could really tell that it was something that I was passionate about, and it was definitely a niche that I naturally discovered.  I didn’t realize that there were other people who were interested in the same thing that I was. It’s been, I guess two years since I made the switch on my channel, and things have been going good so far.

If you could describe your channel in about three words, what would those words be?
Well, the ones that I hear a lot, I hear people call it relaxing and therapeutic. I also try to make things fun and creative, and I want to encourage other people to be able to pick up a pencil and doodle anything.

As you mentioned, when it comes to making a video, there’s editing, creating the idea of the video and filming. So what’s something that viewers wouldn’t expect that goes on behind the scenes of each video?
I think a lot of people wouldn’t expect how business-y it is, but it is kind of like starting your own business. There’s a lot of administrative stuff going on behind it, whether that’s responding to emails or just all of the backend stuff that goes into it. I’ve really had to learn to become an entrepreneur and a business woman at a very young age. Since I did start so young, it’s taken awhile for me to really understand the ins and outs of everything. But now that I have everything set up, things are running smoothly. But yeah, it’s definitely a lot more than just clicking a button on the camera and posting a video on YouTube.

Starting your YouTube channel in your freshman year of high school, what would you differently if you were starting as a YouTuber now?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. Well when I first started out, I kept it a secret from my friends and family for quite a long time because I was embarassed. I didn’t want to let people into this secret world. I probably would have shared earlier on with my friends and family because for the most part, they were all super supportive, and eventually even the ones who weren’t supportive at first came around. I think having that support system  earlier probably would have helped.

So as a YouTuber, what has been your most memorable moment?
There’s so many. I think over the six years, the ones that stand out are when I get to meet other YouTubers , meet my viewers, or when I’m really surrounded by the community. Recently I got to attend VidCon in LA, and that was amazing for me because I got to meet a lot of other YouTubers who are in the space and have the same issues and ideas and mindset as me. It was super inspiring to be around all of that. But also, I can remember every single time one of my viewers came up to me. We chatted, took a picture, and it honestly always makes my day. Those probably stand out the most.

So let’s shift to your bullet journaling, which is featured in most of your videos as you do art. So when did you start bullet journaling and when did you begin filming videos about it?
I started January 2017, so almost two years ago now, and I just happened upon it.  It really, really fascinated me because growing up, I was always the type to be so obsessed with planners and stationery. My favorite part about going back to school was getting a fresh new planner. The fact that bullet journaling let me put my creativity into my own planner was super cool. So I started it and I made the one-off video in January 2017. A lot of people ended up enjoying it and wanted me to continue doing it. So I kept doing it month to month. Within those beginning months, there was kind of a crossover period, but eventually I just realized that I should make the full switch over to art on my channel, not only because my audience was enjoying the art stuff more, but also because I was enjoying doing that content more. It was more satisfying for me to create that.

So I really love bullet journaling and I was just wondering how do you come up with a monthly journal designs?
Month to month, there is a theme.  For example, February is Valentine’s Day month, so I’ll try to go for a theme like that. But other than that, my viewers also help input ideas. Like I mentioned before, I have a really good relationship with my viewers, so I’ll always take suggestions from them. I put up polls so that they can choose the theme, or if I see something that really inspires me, sometimes I’ll just do that. But for the most part, it’s a back and forth between us, and they’ll always give me new ideas that I probably would’ve never even thought of doing.

If viewers could take one thing away from your videos, what would you want that to be?
I mean, my main thing on my channel, it’s like also kind of now my slogan, is to just be creative in everyday situations. I really try to encourage people to have fun with art. I want it to become more accessible so people don’t think you have to be this huge art history buff in order to enjoy art. It can be a fun thing!  Even if you’re just picking up a pencil and doodling on a random notebook. You shouldn’t have to be an insanely talented artist in order to enjoy art .

So, outside of YouTube and the Internet, what are you doing and what are some of your favorite hobbies or passions?
I really enjoy music. I actually do share this as well with my audience whether it’s on my second channel or on Instagram live streams. It’s something that has been a part of my life forever, I grew up playing piano. But recently I’ve been learning guitar and ukulele, and I’ve been sharing a little bit of that with my audience.

What’s next for you and do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to add?
I’m still making videos on YouTube, but I’m trying to expand, especially recently, into doing more art-focused videos, not just bullet journal videos. I’ve also been thinking of trying Twitch streams, which is a new venture for me. But it will allow me to draw and hang out with my viewers simultaneously. Other than that, I have some exciting things in the works, but I won’t give too much away!

 

STORY JANICE KIM
PHOTOS TIA LIU

Read more in print and digital: Volume III, Issue No. 004 – Fall 2018.

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