Maine, United States

Making No. 2 / FAUNA Contributor Spotlight: Emily Walker
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Making No. 2 / FAUNA Contributor Spotlight: Emily Walker

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Enjoy an interview with Emily Walker who created all of the beautiful chapter opening illustrations for Making No. 2 / FAUNA.

Tell us how you got started in your craft.

I spent my summers backpacking in the North Cascades as a kid and really connected with the wildflowers and pines I would see along the trails. I always knew that studying plants would be in my future in some way. I decided to study biology and studio art in college, so this natural progression into scientific illustration kind of just happened before I knew it. Because I enjoy picking up specimens in the natural world and drawing them, botanicals are my favorite, but I go in and out of phases.

What is unique about your designs?

I think the fact that I have a background in technical science and figure drawing really informs the structure and intricacies of my drawings. People always comment on how tedious and detailed my work is and I really think this is because of the more linear side of my brain.

Tell us about a challenge in your making that you've had to overcome.

Hmm...I would say that the biggest challenge I face is finding enough time to draw! I am a teacher so I am always lesson planning and thinking of creative ways for my students to learn, which doesn’t leave much time for me to explore my own craft. I think this is why I have been really into simple pen and ink line drawings and watercolors lately, as they are most conducive to my lifestyle right now and are super portable. Bringing watercolors into the national park is my favorite thing to do with my students and it gives me an excuse to practice!

Why are you excited about the project you designed for Making?

When Carrie reached out to me about making the chapter openers for the Fauna issue of Making I was stoked because I don’t typically draw tons of animals! Her vision/aesthetic aligned with mine so well that I immediately wanted to be a part of the publication. Since finishing the project, I have started making pen and ink illustrations of the animals in the greater yellowstone ecosystem, like bison. It definitely restored my love for drawing charismatic creatures--they just have so much personality.

Share a project, either past present or future that you are especially proud of.

Last year I was at this cute little antique shop in Walla Walla, WA and saw a giant pile of salvaged wood in the backyard as I was leaving. The shop owner gave me a few pieces to take home and I put them aside in my apartment, trying to figure out what to do with them. I thought wood burning would be a really cool way to use them, but I had never tried it before. I kind of just went for it and burned a drawing of a brown trout onto this beautiful raw plank of wood and it is probably my favorite piece to date. Wood burning is NOT forgiving and I think there is something really refreshing about not trying to control the work but rather letting the medium dictate how it takes shape.

What's your favorite color?

Definitely turquoise. Or the color of red wine. Some call that oxblood? I own so much turquoise jewelry it is insane… I love it because it reminds me of the southwest, one of my favorite places on earth.

If you were going to create something just for fun today, what would it be?

I actually am creating something just for fun today! I just started a pen and ink illustration of a head of garlic and some loose cloves.

What currently inspires you most?

Right now I am very much inspired by my immediate surroundings. I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming so the Tetons are literally in my backyard, as well as moose, grizzlies, elk, pronghorn, foxes, and wolves. Rocky Mountain ecology fascinates me and there are infinite plants and animals to draw around here--I really can’t get enough. However I am grateful to be traveling to New Zealand and Southeast Asia this winter, though, so I imagine I will be constantly inspired there! I am looking forward to taking lots of photos, practicing yoga, and eating asian street food. Of course, my (heavily used) watercolor set will be coming too.

Thank you, Emily!