Interview with Emmie Brown, Artist
Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Emmie Brown, an artist residing in Florida and the owner of Pet Pieces. Emmie makes portraits of animals using magazine clippings. “Each portrait begins with a stack of magazines and a photo of my ‘subject.’ During my tedious clipping process I not only search for the perfect tones and colors, but I also love to find random little images and words that make each piece uniquely its own. I then arrange and glue the pieces down from eyelashes to ears until I am satisfied that I have captured the subject’s likeness and personality.” I love Emmie’s work! A selection of Emmie Brown’s work is displayed below. Please visit Emmie Brown’s website to view more of her wonderful work!
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as an artist, and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?
EMMIE BROWN: I was always drawn to making art from the time I was a child. I recently found an old children’s book in my parents’ attic. In this book, each page was blank, with an area to draw the responses to the questions appearing at the top of each page. On the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” page, the five-year-old version of myself had drawn a little figure holding a paintbrush and standing next to an easel. So I guess you could say I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an artist.
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
EMMIE BROWN: Yes, I studied graphic design at Flagler College located in St. Augustine, Florida. Up until my senior year of college, my plan was to be a graphic designer. I enjoyed graphic design very much; however, it wasn’t my true passion. I really only chose graphic design over fine art because I thought I could earn more money as a graphic designer. However, my family really encouraged me follow my real dream, which is what I’m doing now. I will say that the graphic design degree does pay off – it is quite helpful to know how to create your own website and branding.
Lucas — magazine collage on canvas, 12 x 12
KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?
EMMIE BROWN: I always strive towards realism, but my medium forces me to keep a really whimsical quality to my art. My style has changed a lot over the past few years. I’ve gotten away from the looseness and randomness of my earlier pieces, and now my pieces almost look like paintings. Most people don’t realize they’re collages until they look closely. I’m not sure which style I prefer, and I think a balance of the two extremes would be ideal, so I will be working to achieve this balance in the future.
KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating art was absolutely something that you had to do?
EMMIE BROWN: I don’t know if there was an exact moment for me, but I do know that I am quite shy. From a psychological point of view, I assume that I need to create art as a form of escape. I guess it’s a way for me to get my personality out on paper. I actually did not realize this until now!
Lady — magazine collage on canvas, 12 x 12
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin making collages of dogs comprising tiny clippings/pieces of magazines?
EMMIE BROWN: I got the idea when I was about ten-years-old. I have no idea what the inspiration was. My first “collage” piece was of Santa Claus. Our housekeeper, Jean, thought it was fantastic and had it framed. (Jean was always a big supporter of my art, including the finger nail polish designs I painted on the wall.) My mom still loves the Santa Claus that I made years ago, and it still hangs in my parents’ den year round. My next collage was of my first pet, a longhaired dachshund, named Pepper. A family friend saw the piece and wanted one created of his own dog. Before I knew it, the commissions were pouring in!
KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs influenced your artwork?
EMMIE BROWN: I have a deep understanding of how much people love their dogs because of how much I love my own dogs. When someone gives me a photograph of their dog, I have a responsibility to capture that dog’s spirit just as I would want my own dogs’ spirits to be captured. I know that this dog is somebody’s best friend. I want the portrait to bring about those feelings of love in the human companion, so I work extra diligently to ensure that each dog is vividly portrayed.
Jessie and Jake — magazine collage on canvas, 11 x 14
KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?
EMMIE BROWN: Being creative is finding unexpected solutions. Many people are artistically talented, but what makes creativity is someone’s ability to create things in a different way.
KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
EMMIE BROWN: I hate putting myself out there. Selling myself and my work is not my strong suit!
Hali — magazine collage on canvas, 18 x 18
KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going with your work and what keeps you motivated?
EMMIE BROWN: Though I enjoy my work, sometimes I want to walk away from it and tackle another project or just have a lazy day. But the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment I obtain when I finish a piece is better than any day spent lounging by the pool. I have to remind myself of this sometimes.
KATHERINE CARVER: What are the most rewarding and satisfying parts about being an artist and creating art?
EMMIE BROWN: I love when people are so genuinely touched by my portraits. I’ve had many clients cry tears of joy when they first viewed the completed piece showcasing their best friend! To know that people have such a sincere love for their dogs makes me so happy. There are many of animals who aren’t lucky enough to live in a loving home and be spoiled by their humans like they deserve.
Riley — magazine collage on canvas, 10 x 10
KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?
EMMIE BROWN: Coffee, television, music, more coffee, and more television! I always have the television on while I work in the morning. Kathie Lee and Hoda are my morning staples, followed by The Price Is Right. I’m like an old lady. Then I’ll listen to music until Ellen comes on at four o’clock!
KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?
EMMIE BROWN: I have always been amazed by Chuck Close. For some reason I am drawn to portraiture that is comprised of small, interesting units that make sense viewed from a distance.
Bella — magazine collage on canvas, 12 x 12
KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
EMMIE BROWN: That is tough to answer because I am an aspiring artist myself! I think it’s helpful to have a niche. Dog art in itself is a niche, but I take it a step further by employing an unusual medium. So I think you should first figure out what you’re good at; what your best or most unique style is; and what subject matter you most enjoy. I’ve found that whatever work you’re most passionate about will become your biggest success.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view your work?
EMMIE BROWN: I am always posting new pieces on my Facebook page (facebook.com/petpieces) as well as my website, www.pet-pieces.com, and Instagram! (petpieces).
Uga III — magazine collage on canvas, 12 x 16
Please note that all of the images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Emmie Brown.
You can read additional interviews here.