A Toast to Emily Rose

Who is surprised that we are back for the third week with a Tipsy Toast? Yeah, us too! We are loving this opportunity to feature awesome, inspiring women! This week we are super excited to share a Q&A with artist Emily Rose.

We didn’t get a chance to talk to Emily much at Fan Expo Dallas, but Katie and I were both immediately drawn to her art. So, naturally we emailed her post-con to see if we could feature her on the blog. Fortunately for us (and you) she said yes!

 

Obligatory: What or who made you want to be an artist?

Growing up, my grandmother used to paint and my mother was an illustrator, so I guess it just always felt natural to me to be creating. Grandma Bernie painted a lot of landscapes and my mom used to work doing scientific illustration and was an avid photographer. She had (and still has) this giant skull collection in our living room, and I loved all her super realistic pen drawings of them and of animals. Both my parents always encouraged me to be super creative – I think there’s a brick or paving stone somewhere that my dad donated and on it he had written “Paint, Emily, Paint!”

I’d say there were two big influences outside of family. The first was books. I read SO MANY books! Science fiction and fantasy were my favorites and whenever there were book reports due at school, that was my time to shine! I loved drawing my own illustrations for all the worlds I read about and daydreamed about being a cover artist. The second influence was videogames, and as a byproduct, anime. For a while there my ultimate goal in life was to learn Japanese, move to Japan, and work for Squaresoft making the next Final Fantasy game. So I started watching anime because I figured that’s how I could learn Japanese. I used to draw Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I think that’s the first thing I remember drawing other than my “kid doodles” of family, fish and cats. The first thing I used any shading techniques on anyway. (I never did learn Japanese or go to Japan – at the time, neither I nor my parents thought going to school to make videogames was a career path I could really pursue, but I guess I’ll talk more about that on the next question!)

Anyway, once I realized that people enjoyed looking at my artwork and that it brought smiles to people’s faces, that pretty much sealed the deal. I wanted to do what I loved and made other people happy too!

 

What formal training do you have, if any, or are you self taught?

When it was time to think about college and I realized I could actually go to school FOR art, I applied to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) with my illustration portfolio. I got into both and decided MICA seemed like a better fit. Freshman year they have introductory classes in everything, so I took drawing and painting then, but when I declared majors I went with Graphic Design since that seemed the most viable as far as a career (or so I thought at the time). I think I lasted one or two semesters before switching to Photography (I blame my photography teachers for flattering me into it!!). So, I have a BFA in Photography, which led to a job as a photographer and video editor for a number of years. Very different than what I do now, but I think it definitely helped with composition and story telling – all art fields kind of meld into each other when you think about it.

As far as the work I currently do, I guess in effect it’s mostly self-taught since then. There was a large gap of about 8 or 9 years where I hardly drew at all, but once I started back at it I really threw myself into it! Fast forward several years and I’m still teaching myself new things. It’s been a long time since art school so I’m giving myself a refresher on anatomy and color theory as best I can through my home library (did I mention how much I love books?!) and as of a few weekends ago I’m starting to use more watercolors. I feel like every convention I do and every conversation I have with another artist opens up new ideas for me that I like to follow.

My fiancé is a comic book artist so he’s also been really helpful. We each have our strong points and help each other – it’s nice to have a second artistic eye at home who can critique and offer suggestions when I’m feeling stuck. Our styles are very different, but I like to think we’ve both learned a thing or two from each other! I never want to stop learning new things. I think getting into digital painting is my next hurdle. I’ve always been intrigued. I don’t think it would ever replace my physical drawing and painting, but would just be another weapon in my toolbox.

 

How did you get into comics?

So, I’m originally from the East Coast. At a certain point, I left my current job and was kind of floundering not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. My then-boyfriend invited me to come live in San Antonio, and I figured I was young enough that it was a good time to take risks and move halfway across the country. (The going into debt to do it was probably not the smartest idea, in retrospect, but I’m glad I did – because otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am now!)

So, I moved to Texas without a job lined up, and started drawing and painting again. I think a month after I moved someone invited me to show my artwork in the parking lot of a hair salon. It was July in San Antonio and I didn’t know to bring a tent to protect me from the sun. I thought I was going to die! But I made $10 (I still have it, somewhere, as a memento) and started doing more local San Antonio shows.

ARTSLAM! was how things really got rolling – they did the show a few times a year and I made sure I went to every single one to show and sell my work. It was at one of the first shows I did there that I met and introduced myself to artist Cody Schibi (if you haven’t seen his work, google him, it’s great and creepy!). When I went to Wizard World Austin a few months later he was there and asked me, “Why aren’t you doing conventions? Check out STAPLE Independent Media Expo in Austin!” So that’s what I did. It’s all Cody’s fault!

Chris Nicholas, who runs STAPLE, is great and he made my first convention experience not totally terrifying! And then I just kept pushing myself from there. Doing more conventions, networking, and constantly drawing. The leaps and bounds I made over the next few years was crazy. Now I want to hide all the work I did those first few years! I’m so much better than I used to be! I kind of hope I’m saying the same thing about my current work in another few years – I hope it’s that much better again!

 

Who is your favorite comic book character (personally, not necessarily to draw)?

This is a hard one. I’m bad at narrowing down. Currently I’m pretty obsessed with Revival written by Tim Seely with art by Mike Norton. The two main girls in that are great! Also I really enjoy Deadpool and Fantomex in Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run. Oh and Valiant’s Doctor Mirage. (Okay don’t even get me started on Valiant. All their characters are the best. Ninjak, X-O, Shadowman, Rai, FAITH!!) I get really excited about characters. They feel so real to me! When I was a kid I’d always be so distraught when my favorite books ended, but in comics they generally get to stick around for a lot longer and I love that!

Which character would you say you get the most commission requests for?

Currently I’m getting a lot of requests in general for pop culture references in my Squishy style (Ash from Evil Dead, Game of Thrones characters, Wednesday Addams), but as far as a repeat character… I think X-23? It’s hard to say. They’re usually so varied across the board! I get a lot of really obscure stuff, which I love – even if I don’t previously know the character, because then I have an excuse to do research! Actually I think personal portraits or family portraits are my most popular commission that I end up doing.
Tipsy Toast Emily Rose Art

Marvel or DC? And, why?

Oh gosh. This is hard too! Between those two, I used to follow a lot more Marvel, but now it’s a bit more even. I am really digging the new Batgirl run and DC’s The Flash tv show really won me over and got me to start delving back into their books. So for me they’re kind of even. Mahmud Asrar is doing some incredible work over at Marvel on All-New All-Different Avengers, and I adored Jorge Molina’s A-Force! Jorge Jimenez is doing some great work on DC’s Earth 2 Society! And I totally love Mark Russell’s Prez! That’s what exciting me right now over there. I think my favorite past runs have been House of M and Messiah CompleX on the Marvel side and the Green Lantern Blackest Night and Brightest Day on the DC side (if they could make THOSE into movies….well, that would be awesome!)
That being said, I really go based on artists and writers I enjoy more than the company they are working for at the time. Though if I had to only read books from one company, I’d probably choose Valiant! I love them so much! Their universe is great. It’s definitely one of those “quality over quantity” but now they are starting to have both! That and Image, because my all-time favorite are creator owned books. Like I mentioned before, Revival is great. Saga. Black Science, LOW, Descender, Mythic, The Beauty. Those are what I’m loving right now. Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen’s Empress is just stunning. We end up getting pretty much anything Immonen works on. And I’m just starting Black Road, which I checked out originally because Dave McCaig was working on the colors.
I think the book I am most excited for currently is Reborn by Mark Millar and Greg Capullo. My buddy Jonathan Glapion is inking it. I feel like inkers and colorists don’t get the limelight they should – they can really make or break a book for me, and Reborn looks like it’s going to be absolutely epic! I’m also excited about a creator-owned project that my fiancé, Brent Peeples, is about to start drawing. He’ll be announcing that one soon!

If someone can’t make it to a convention, where can they buy your work?

Right now I have a very sparsely stocked Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/EmilyRoseArtwork) but I am hoping with the convention lull I have for the next month and a half (before I go to Kansas City in August) I can get that rectified! I don’t put anything other than original characters up there though, so if there’s something someone saw me post somewhere, online or in person, the best way for right now is to just email me about it! Sometime during this year I’m hoping to just add a standalone shop to my website, too. You can also requisition commissions through that etsy shop or emailing me from my website! Below is a family portrait I did of fellow artist Jessica Von Braun with her two wonderful kids!
Tipsy Toast - Emily Rose

What is your favorite medium to work with?

Right now my favorite is watercolor! This is a really recent thing. For years I’ve been primarily using Copic Markers. I still love them, but the watercolor allows me to be a little less…rigid. There are more “happy accidents.” It’s also easier to bring a wide range of colors with me on the road to conventions than to have to pack every color marker (plus refills) that I have. So expect to see a lot more of that! But in general, I will use whatever I feel like is right for the current job! Sometimes one piece will be a mixture of watercolor, marker, and colored pencil.

We noticed that you have photography on your site. What inspires your photography?

So, as we talked about, I have my degree in photography. I’ve shot a couple weddings – I find it both fun and stressful. My favorite part about weddings are the little quiet moments and creating some beautiful imagery for the couple to look back on. I’m hoping to do that a bit more often moving forward, so there isn’t such a long gap in between and I don’t feel so rusty! I also love portraits, though I prefer more stylized ones than just straight headshots, you know?
I did a study abroad in Paris and focused on more fashion-themed photography. My teacher there, who was in the fashion industry, told me I’d be great at it and had the eye for it, but that the industry was really cut-throat and I realized I didn’t really have the stomach for it. I don’t want to be rivals or enemies of other people in my field. I want to be somewhere that people help each other and lift each other up – much like I find the convention scene and the artists I’ve made friends with over the last few years.
My photography thesis project was centered around fairy tales.. I won’t give you the whole speech, but essentially I put myself in roles of different popular characters (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Goldilocks, Rapunsel, Snow White etc) and tried to recreate the essence of each character in one single real-life scene. They were still totally fantastical. I went back to New Jersey near my parents’ house to shoot them – they have a lot of neat abandoned buildings around there – so for instance the Cinderella one I very carefully sat myself down in the middle of this room that looked like it was straight from Hoarders, but everything was old and rusted. It was important for me to kind of get in the head space for each character – but to make them seem powerful – not these wimpy little girls who needed saving. I guess I do the same thing with my drawn art – I love to draw strong women. It carries across all mediums for me!
Tipsy Toast Emily Rose

If you could tell your 15 year old self one thing, what would you say?

Okay, let’s get deep for a minute. Real talk. 14 and 15 were those “rough teenage years” for me. Thank God I had attentive parents who realized I was in trouble and got me some help when I needed it most. Bullying is real. Peer pressure is real. I saw the things the kids around me were doing and thought that was just what you did, what was normal.
I had an ex-boyfriend who cut himself when I didn’t want to date him anymore and that sent my little brain into a nosedive. Another kid who I only ever saw twice who just wanted me to date him cut himself too. I’ve always been super empathetic with other people and that was so hard for me, to be told and truly feel like I was the cause of someone else’s pain like that. For maybe three or four months I was cutting myself. I’m not proud of it, I hardly ever talk about it or tell anyone about it. But I feel like I need to share it because I want kids who are going through rough times now to realize there’s a way to work past it.
I think as a creative person, there’s a higher chance that at some point in your life you’re going to struggle. I was super depressed and confused. I felt like the whole world was watching me mess up (while in reality everyone was too busy worrying about their own teenage dramas). My parents got me a therapist and I kind of rebelled against that, too. But it made me think. And it was one of those things that, partially, I had to work out for myself. I realized I was being ungrateful (because really my childhood was great and I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to grow up in, to the point of feeling guilty about it) and my attitude was terrible and that I was causing my family pain (I’m so sorry!), and so I essentially willed myself out of the hole I was floundering in.
I snapped out of my funk as best as I could and returned to being what I felt was my true self – just being as nice as I could to everyone, and trying to be my old optimistic self – and the more I allowed myself to do that, the better I felt! I really blossomed towards the end of high school and into college. That’s not to say I didn’t still make mistakes… Frankly, I don’t really think I hit my stride until a couple years ago. But you’re always learning and evolving, hopefully for the better!
Unfortunately kids live through some gnarly stuff younger, it seems, with every generation, and they have to figure out how to navigate all these social and personal situations on their own. Things might seem really hopeless. To anyone who is struggling right now, let me tell you it DOES really truly get better! I promise! I urge you not to self harm though – really, when you’re older you’re going to look back and wish you hadn’t. I know I do. If you’re doing it because someone else hurt you, or you don’t know how to express all these crappy emotions – WRITE. PAINT. PLAY MUSIC – express all that terrible turmoil bubbling inside you – it’ll feel so much better to GET IT OUT. And guess what, what you create will probably resonate to other kids (And adults!) around you that are struggling too.
Being productive feels so good and so rewarding! Just know that so many people around you have to struggle through the same things – talk to your friends, talk to your family – trust me, they’d rather you have tough conversations with them than block them out, even if you think you’re doing it to spare them. They’re there, waiting for you to open up to them, and they want to help. And if you don’t have a great relationship with your family, turn to friends, or in this age of technology, there are groups online of those going through similar situations. You are not alone. You are never alone. I want to give each and every one of you a hug!
I would tell my 15 year old self to just pour all my angst and emotion and time into being creative and bettering myself – into getting better at the things I loved to do. I would have spent less time worrying what boys thought about me and more time working and studying. I’d tell myself to stop worrying over EVERYTHING! It’ll work out. It really will. I’d remind myself to try to bring light and happiness to those around me, who many need more help than I did. And, the person you’re supposed to be with will fall into your life at exactly the right time, and they will support your dreams and help you to follow them. So cry it out if you have to, but if you can, try to keep optimistic for the next dawn. Because life is amazing and as long as your eyes are open, you never know what amazing opportunity can come your way!

If you could only celebrate one holiday for the rest of your life, which holiday would you choose? Why?

Christmas. Hands down. I used to really love Halloween, but as I got older the more and more I loved Christmas. I love everything about it. And there’s a lot of nostalgia in it for me, too. I can pretend I’m back on the East Coast surrounded by evergreens. I love the coziness, and the good cheer. I LOVE giving presents. I go way overboard whenever I can afford it. I love twinkly lights and hot chocolate. I love going to Church with my family and I love getting to visit my parents and grandparents. I love stockings and fireplaces and decorating the house. I have a very rustic tree that I am very particular about what ornaments go on it. I secretly pretend I am in Norway or Sweden. I sing Christmas carols. I bake. I love Christmas haha.

What would you title your autobiography?

“I’m Glad My Future Husband Doesn’t Mind How Much I Love Cats”

How many days do you think you’d survive after a zombie apocalypse?

It would depend on who I had with me and how much they love me. I am not a fast runner haha. But I am extra-cautious, always, so that goes in my favor, right? I’d probably be the one extra prepared with bandaids and sewing needles and extra food in my purse.
As much as I try not to shop there, there’s a Wal-Mart right down the street, so I’d go there first to try to get some weapons and hunting supplies. I love camping, the outdoors, and books about surviving in the wild. Also pretend fort-building. I have a plan already on where I would go, it would just take me a long time to get there on foot. I really need to learn to ride a horse.
If I was all by myself, probably two days haha. If I had help, at least a couple months if I didn’t make it to my “safe-place.” If I could get to my parents’ cabin, longer. I’m not telling you where it is, for future apocalypse security reasons. I’ve thought about this way too much. Haha.

What is your actual favorite movie, not the one you tell people to sound like you have a great taste in film?

I don’t think I can narrow it down. I watch a lot of movies, and I love a lot of them, too. Dune. The Martian. Mad Max. All the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies (One big long marathon of all the extended cuts happens about once a year for me!). The Alien movies. Ant Man. Deadpool. Centurion. The Revenant was one of my favorites visually. We always have a movie or show on in the background while we work, usually, so we’re watching a movie or two a day at least!

What is your favorite board game?

I have the Fallout edition of Monopoly. I love that one. There is also a Mass Effect edition of Risk that I want to acquire. (Are you sensing a theme here?) Okay, non-videogame related board game… The Squirrel Game. I think it’s for 4 year olds. But it has cute squirrels and you put pinecones into your little wheelbarrow. Also, Candyland.

Board Games or Video games? Why?

Videogames. Always videogames. I mean, I’ll play some monopoly with the kids, but I’d always rather play videogames. My library is quite extensive. We have a SNES, N64, a PS2, two Xbox360s, an Xbox One and a PS4.
I just love to immerse myself into the different worlds. I can lose whole days that way. I really need to limit myself when I have a lot of work to do, but that’s my carrot that I use as a reward for getting timely work done! I just love how far the games have come from when I first really got into them. I remember how cool it was seeing the “cut scenes” in FF7 with Sephiroth and Jenova in the reactor.. and then when Final Fantasy VIII came out I just sat there with my mouth open amazed at how great I thought the graphics looked throughout the game. It was amazing to me! Well, look where we are now! How gorgeous!
Resident Evil was a big reason I started listening to classical music (Moonlight Sonata, anyone?) I’ve always liked to collect all the art books I can, or special editions of games. I love the character designs and concept art. The Bioshock series was great with that. Borderlands. Portal. Right now I have The Witcher 3 in my PS4 and Fallout 4 in the Xbox One. I’ve been a bad (or fantastic?!) influence on Brent and he now plays a lot more videogames, too. I can’t wait for ReCore, the FF7 remake, Skyrim Special Edition, and MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA. Give me that Mass Effect right now!
I still have yet to work on a game myself, but that’s still one of those things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. *cough cough* to anyone listening! Hah!

What is your favorite crayon color?

Blue. You can color so many skies that way!

I mean, how incredibly awesome is Emily Rose?!?! A fun face about our blog that I’m sure we’ve shared before, but we started The Tipsy Verse because we all kind of felt out of place in some way or another. So, we decided to create our own happy place on the internet. Of the many things we’ve learned is that we are definitely not alone, and it is awesome, geeky women like Emily that remind us just how not-alone we truly are! 

Some more of Emily’s awesome art!

Be sure to follow Emily Rose on all of her socials and check out her website!

And now, we can all raise a digital (or real) glass and give a big “Cheers!” to Emily!

One Response to “A Toast to Emily Rose

  • Wow! Awesome interview! Gonna check her artwork and photography stat. Love that she referenced Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run. That’s the best superhero team comic book I’ve ever read.

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