Some people have no idea what they want to do when they grow up and others know exactly what they want. For LA based artist Emily Keating Snyder she always knew she wanted to be an artist and followed through. From selling her artwork at shows and online stores like Etsy to hosting workshops and events for those starting out, Emily has a creative approach to art and is making quite a name for herself.
1. Who is Emily Keating Snyder the artist? What do you paint and where can we get our hands on it?
As an artist and a person, I am a kid at heart. My work and my process are about tapping into that carefree spirit and remembering to have fun and take things a little less seriously.
I work in a few different mediums, including watercolor and collage, but at the moment I’m focusing on abstract paintings with embroidery. I paint simple blocks of color on loose, unprimed canvas, which I then stitch colorful lines and shapes into. I share a lot on Instagram and have an Etsy shop called Emily and Keating, but to check out the full collection and see past work, my website is the place to be! You can find me at emilykeatingsnyder.com.
2. What’s your favorite part of transitioning from artist to teacher and helping others find their way?
My favorite thing about starting to teach art is getting a chance to work with people who come in to a class saying they have no idea how to paint or they aren’t creative. I really have to put myself in their shoes and think about how it feels to come into an experience where I feel like a total fish out of water (like when my nieces tried to teach me how to play soccer at age 29).
I like starting art workshops with play time and experimentation. When people loosen up they have more fun and then they’re not so worried about the finished product. The best part is seeing what the “uncreative people” make because, of course, it’s always super creative.
3. Where do you find inspiration to paint/create what you do? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
If I had to pin down where most of my inspiration comes from, it’s definitely in the materials. I think for some artists, it begins with a concept and then the materials come in as a way to execute that idea. For me, it’s often the opposite. It might start with simply a desire to mix up mint green paint and another inkling that I want to see what it feels like to paint directly on unprimed canvas. Then each little experiment builds on the last one.
I also like emphasizing all the supplies I’ve used and showing off the process a bit as a way to demystify art. That’s why I love working on raw canvas and sometimes showing things like pencil lines and knots in the thread. It’s all a peek at what went into making the artwork.
I have wanted to be an artist my whole life. I think the hard part was believing that it was actually a real job because we’re exposed to so many myths about artists that it seems impossible that it could be a practical way to live.
4. How do you market your artwork? What’s the best part about being an artist and what’s the biggest challenge(s)?
I market my artwork mostly online and find that it has helped to share on a few different platforms. I post tons of work on Instagram and have also had an Etsy shop for years and a profile on Saatchi Art. Although a lot of my opportunities and sales have come from in-real-life shows and meetings, most of those initial connections started with people finding and messaging me on Etsy.
The best part about being an artist is simply being alone and tinkering in my studio. I’m like a grumpy old lady and I thrive on the peace and quiet. The biggest challenge for me has been learning to focus my efforts. Whether it’s with marketing and showing or with making the art itself, it has taken me a while to hone in on the best way to use my time and creative energy. I’m still learning!
5. Do you have a favorite type of medium to work with? Also, what tips would you give to someone starting out?
Although I’ve been focused more on painting lately, I’d say collage has actually become my favorite medium over the years. My collages are similar to dollhouses with lots of little pieces that need to fit into just the right space, so making them connects me back to playing with Barbies as a kid. And Barbies were absolutely everything to me.
My best advice is to make a lot of art and share it anywhere you can. I’ve worked in so many different mediums and styles over the years and only recently have begun to feel like I’m really finding my voice and refining my work. But I never waited to show it. Whether it was photographs at a coffee shop or marker drawings listed on Etsy, I just kept sharing everything I made even at times when I felt like no one was seeing it. It’s very much that idea of planting a seed and thinking not much is happening, but you keep watering it and giving it sun anyway. Then over time you start to see opportunities cropping up all because of the things you were doing when you thought no one noticed.
And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a ton of bad work. In fact, it’s a good idea! Keeping the garden theme going, one of my favorite quotes ever about creativity is, “You need the crap to fertilize the good stuff.”