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about me: A BIO

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, early on a Tuesday morning in March of 1984. The first of three kids: me, my sister, and my brother. I have always known I wanted to be an artist. Even as a toddler, it seems I knew that's what I wanted. Despite a lot of detours along the way, battles with mental health, major life changes, and things not exactly being as I pictured them in my idyllic childhood fantasies, that's actually exactly what I grew up to become: an artist. 

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I graduated from high school in 2002. From there, my journey took me to college initially to be an art teacher, studying at California University of Pennsylvania. I realized teaching wasn't for me. I ended up 1000 miles away from home in Orlando FL where I attended The DAVE (Digital Animation and Visual Effects) School on the backlot of Universal Studios to become an animator and visual effects artist.

 

After I graduated from DAVE in December 2005, I worked in Orlando for a small television studio on a children's show for a little while, but then in the summer of 2006, I packed up all my belongings in my old Jetta and drove 3000 miles all by my lonesome to Los Angeles CA.

 

I worked there for a few years. I bounced between a few studios (and friends' couches), working on game trailers and independent films, and while at FIRST that city felt like it sparkled, Cali wasn't my home. I eventually stopped couch-surfing and lived in a friend's spare room in the suburbs of Los Angeles, near San Dimas. 

 

I met my ex-husband during this time, married him, and found myself pregnant. It was a whirlwind. Even though I hadn't planned it, I was immediately in love with that bun in my oven. But those long hours at the studio paired with the hellish LA commute was draining on me, especially during pregnancy. I enjoyed my career, but I decided that I needed to leave it behind for my own health and quality of life.

 

For a long time, I thought I would never return home except for holiday visits, to be honest. But in February 2009 when I was six months pregnant, I drove on a snowy highway in the dark hours of a winter evening back into the borders of Pennsylvania. A few months later, my son was born. This caused me to put EVERYTHING art-related on hold for several years. I was fulfilled as a mom, but losing my art made me feel like I lost a huge part of myself. 

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My son's dad and I divorced in 2013, and while it felt like everything was falling apart at the time, I now see that that was the start of my journey back to who I was as a human at my core. I didn't get back into anything creative or artistic professionally at first. It was just what I did to blow off steam, a hobby. I was too long out of the game, too unpracticed, and I needed ANY job as soon as possible as a newly single parent.

 

I worked for a local Meals on Wheels for a little while, and then when our kitchen closed, I found a new job at a local small business that was part of the supply chain for the steel industry. I kept doing art on the side, and sometimes people paid me for it. I never thought I would be able to make a living off of my art again though. I felt like I had left that part of me behind in Los Angeles.

 

Then in the spring of 2017, an amazing opportunity arose. I accepted a position at an architectural illustration firm here in Pittsburgh called Depiction LLC. I was over the moon. This was it. My fresh start back into being a creative professional. My childhood dream was coming true again, in its own way.

A few months later though, my new world came crashing down. Again.

I was just a few months into my new job, and my son was just eight years old, when, on September 12, 2017, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes during  the scariest few days of my life. He spent almost a week in the hospital, and I never felt more frightened.

Our lives changed utterly and completely on a dime. Within a few months of becoming the sole caretaker of a newly diagnosed child with diabetes, it became apparent I couldn't keep a full-time job away from home. I needed to figure out how to use my skills to make a living on my own, while also having the flexibility for horribly exhausting overnight caretaking as well as doctor's appointments and sick days and calls from the school nurse. There was no one else; it was only up to me.

 

After leaving my fancy new illustration job in December 2017, just days before Christmas, I met up with an old friend and had a long lunch and a long talk. With their encouragement, I decided to leap into the deep end of being a full-time professional self-employed artist. I also decided to write and illustrate a children's book about my son's Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I was going to make it work for us.

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Since then, in late December 2017, I have pursued many various artistic endeavors. I started selling art prints on Etsy. I did write and illustrate that book and self-published it in December 2020. (It's available here). I started doing regular freelance work for the company I had just left, and I still do work for them to this day -- just not as a full-time employee. I started doing face painting for parties and events (though that stopped during the pandemic). I did graphic and logo design (not anymore). I designed a few drumheads and album covers for musicians. I started doing pet portraits and human portraits and a whole host of other commissioned paintings. In 2019, I started doing courtroom sketch work for my local news stations here in Pittsburgh. In 2021, I was hired on as a staff illustrator for a local company called Brutus Monroe that designs stamps and other crafting items. I started a few other Etsy shops for other niche things that didn't quite fit into my original art shop.

On 1/01/2023, I started another new chapter in my artistic career. Rather than always creating for other people and bringing their visions to life, I decided to start honing my style(s) and focusing on making what I wanted to make, when I wanted to make it. I stopped offering custom artwork or commission options except for my top-tier patrons on Patreon. You can sign up to support my artistry at $1, $5, $10, or $50 per month here if you are interested. 

It's my goal now to make more personal "Emily-styled" artwork than I ever have before. 

Anyways. I guess that's it. Unless you want me to go on and on about having celiac, being a T1D advocate, faerie smut books, astrology, the Attack on Titan anime, Supernatural, Doctor Who, or Lord of the Rings. Probably not though.

Take a look around, check out the different links to my various shops, and peep my portfolio while you're here. 

Kloveyoubyeeeeeee.

-Em

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