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Emersen Barnes

Emersen Barnes

Emersen Barnes Interview

Emersen Barnes

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

My mother is a talented artist, but unfortunately, she grew up in a family that didn't encourage pursuing such a career. She became a nurse instead, and she's really good at her job, but it always seemed like she wonders what could have been. She has always been very encouraging of my art and it's a part of our household culture. I want to be an illustrator because it's what I love to do. 

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

I am currently attending Sheridan College in the visual and creative arts program. After this program, I hope to enter into Sheridan's Illustration program.

Have you always loved to draw?

Drawing was my favourite distraction growing up. In elementary school, I would get in trouble for filling the margins of my paper with elaborate images of mermaids, or eyeballs, or my favourite cartoon characters. and the only thing I would ask for birthdays was a new sketchbook.

Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

I don't remember who the author was, but I had this book growing up called 'Everyone poops' it was my favourite book, it made me laugh so hard. Now I love making art that has a sense of humour, and I think it started with that book.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

The first thing I was paid to create was an advertisement for an upcoming event at my local library. They asked me to paint a huge mural on their front window, since then I make them a new mural twice a year. I don't have a picture of the first painting they asked me to do, but I've attatched the most recent one.

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What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

I grew up with acrylic paints, and it's what I am most comfortable with, but I never shy away from a new medium. I also enjoy ink drawings with my glass pen, pencil, digital, marker, woodburning. I try to be versatile.

Do you keep a sketch book?

I keep two sketchbooks. One is for traditional work, ink and pencil observational drawings. The other is for experimenting, so it includes a lot more crafting and multimedia pieces, I believe it's where most of my best work comes.

Are you an author/illustrator?

I would call myself an aspiring illustrator. I haven't done nearly enough to make a career out of it yet, and I don't imagine I will until after I finish school.

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I have something called synesthesia. It's different for everyone that has it, but essentially it means that the senses sometimes get crossed. For me, to an extent, I can see sound. People's voices usually show up as some form of green, rain is often purple, and a good song may look like the most beautiful painting. the image I've included is an oil pastel drawing I did of the song 'you were cool' by The Mountain Goats.

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How do you overcome a creative block?

I pause whatever I'm working on and work on something else. There is no point wasting time just because my brain refuses to cooperate.

Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

I have 3 dogs. Rocky the Shihtzu poodle, Luna the Maltese, and Chloe the golden retriever. I love them more than anything in the world, and if anything good has come out of this pandemic, it's that I get to be around my furbabies all day. I grew up on a hobby farm, so I've had goats, sheep, a bunch of cats, ducks, and lizards. I have been an animal midwife 8 times. I love animals and they have always been an inspiration in my work

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