We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Cown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
While I never envisioned myself as a visual artist of any kind, I’ve always wanted some kind of creative career—and I’m still working towards that, honestly. When I was about 11, I decided that I wanted to be a middle school band director. I was a band kid from 6th grade through high school, where that changed to wanting to be a high school band director. I went to college with plans of studying music education, but that didn’t work out. I’d gotten involved in drama while I was in high school and really loved it, so I decided to switch over to theatre for my major. My time in the theatre department at my university was not a great one for me, and I graduated feeling like I had so much more that I could have learned, but I mean, I got the degree. I didn’t really expect to have a whole career only in theatre, but I was hoping to make performing and comedy a big part of my life. Since then I’ve realized that I have a lot of healing and processing from my college years to do before that’s something I’ll be in the right headspace for— and that’s how I got into painting and crafting. It really started when I was in a pretty low place and struggling with feeling like I was loosing control of things. I’ve always struggled with control issues, and I discovered acrylic pouring as a fantastic way to create without having total control over the outcome; it’s been an amazing practice for me. With pouring, you literally cannot control the final outcome of the piece. You can manipulate it and have a general idea of how you want it to turn out, but the paint will do what it wants to. And it was a fantastic coping mechanism through the early lockdown days, those were really rough on my mental health. I threw myself into painting pretty intensely for a good bit of last year—it was really the only way for me to get out of my head and focus on something else besides the pandemic. So while I don’t quite have a whole creative career yet, it’s definitely something I hope to see come to fruition in the future.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from others is that, as far as pouring goes, every single piece that an artist makes will be different. We all stand out from each other, because no one can create what we have created. And if I’m being honest, it was never about setting myself apart from others. I started on this journey for my own health and benefit, and just happened to encounter people who like what I make. And I’ve connected with an incredible community of other artists who are welcoming and helpful and always offering encouragement, and don’t hesitate to help you rise up and get yourself established. Those connections are a big part of how I’ve gotten this far. And that’s not to say that I don’t still have a long way to go, there will always be new things to learn and new things to try. As far as how easy it’s been… I really think the most difficult part is keeping myself motivated to create. As much as my mental health has benefitted from painting, it can also keep me from painting. I’ve been completely blocked for months now, and only just painted something new last week. I recently started therapy, and it’s been really great so far and is helping me get over this block. I still have plenty of challenges to overcome, but I’m looking forward to the work. My favorite lesson that I’ve learned, my biggest takeaway, is that it will never be perfect. And that is 100% okay. I realize that I chose mediums that make it impossible to achieve perfection, and I think that’s actually really helped me. That lack of control has been more beneficial than I can articulate. As far as for what I want people to know about my brand in my story, I think I’m still building both of those. They’re not finished, and it’s going to be a while before they are. I think what’s important to know is that if you feel stuck, it’s okay to make a change. You don’t have to be stuck in one lane. I’ve hopped from music to theater to painting back to theater back to painting, and I’m still involved with music, I dabbled in writing… you don’t have to stick to one thing. Branching out can be scary, terrifying really, but for me it’s been the best thing I could’ve done for myself. It doesn’t have to be a monumental shift, or a career change, it could just be something new that you try—who knows, it might wind up being that big change you were looking for, or it might just be something fun on the side to give you a break from what you’ve got going on in your day-to-day. Your story is a choose-your-own-adventure, so choose a fun one.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh gosh, where do I even start? I should probably begin with my mom—she has been my number one fan in everything I have attempted and achieved since day one. She’s my most supportive person in my life and is really just the best. I also owe a ginormous thank you to my Aunt Anne and Uncle Hugh. They helped put me through college, and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have graduated without their help and the regular pep talks and lectures I’d get from my uncle. He passed away a year before I finished school, and I will always be sad that he didn’t get to see me graduate. There are a lot of amazing artists that I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with and find inspiration from over the years. Polychromatic Moxie helped me get started with making jewelry, and she was so generous with her tips and explaining her process. And I can’t say enough about how impactful it’s been to connect with artists Lanchen (@lanchendesigns) and Cathrin Machin (@cathrinmachin). They are so wildly talented, it blows my mind. I’ve learned so much following their work and I’m so grateful that I get to support them and watch their journeys. And to everyone who has bought, traded, shared and encouraged me on my own journey, thank you. That support means more than I can put into words.
Other: Tiktok: emilysarahcown