Emma was born in Covington, Louisiana in the United States. She works as a freelance illustrator. She is a many-sided person, mostly interested in drawing, painting, learning about culture as well as communicating culture, and people-watching. She’s passionate about art and art history, enjoys good food, jazz and blues, especially live gigs.
She received her BA in English Literature and Art History from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In 2013., she moved to a whole different continent, to a country she had never visited before neither read about its lifestyle.
She was granted with a Fulbright scholarship and taught English from 2013. to 2014 in Serbia! During that time, she lived in Novi Pazar and started making special vivid travel journals during her trips – snippets.
Why Serbia, exactly? Well, she applied to Serbia because she has family history here— she met her elderly relative in Belgrade for the first time in 2013. It was a scary thing to move so far, but, as she said – things that scare us a little are the ones that change us for the better! All the things she’s most proud of in her life so far have been accompanied by fear.
She was faced with many challenges. She had to adjust to Serbian life in a lot of different ways. As she says, she had to learn how to think about time differently, to ask difficult questions about the past century to piece together a holistic story about the recent wars and the effect they have had on the Balkan identity, to learn about religious traditions, to pick up on small non-verbal cues to communicate more effectively.
As curious and eager for new experiences as she is, Emma says she cannot sum up her impressions in just a few words, neither can she point out her favorite city in Serbia. She met the diversity of Serbian cities and come to a conclusion that there is not very much cohesion, like cities are their own mini countries. Her stay in Serbia is temporary, but – as her Serbian friends say – she keeps finding new reasons to stay!
Emma had an exhibition in Belgrade on the 25th of February. She had great support from the community. Despite the bad weather, it all went great. As Emma says – it was immensely meaningful to learn that her art is hitting home with local people.
Emma managed to develop her own business related to the art she makes. For example, she makes custom made portraits. Also, she is preparing a line of “Snippets” products to sell in Serbia and abroad. She is financing the whole thing on her own, but she hopes to find some investors along the way. How bold and admirable is that!
Emma says there must be a balance between the business side of the project and the creative side; she doesn’t want to spend all her time doing business because it would distract her from painting and creating. Her profit margin isn’t very high, as she says, but that are some of the calculated choices she makes. She wants her products to be accessible to people.
When we asked Emma to give a message for creative young people that don’t yet know how to put themselves out there, she humbly replied she is still too early in her journey to give some words of wisdom. However, she says that there is one thing that is most important: to create. Every day, just build up that body of work. Don’t be afraid to make ugly things, she says. The fear of making ugly things paralyzed her for a long time.
Here’s one of the most interesting pieces of Emma’s advice: be impatient and patient at the same time; be impatient in that you are impatient to create and your goals are high and you are impatient to achieve them. But be patient and kind to yourself if things don’t happen right away.
Emma is currently working on her book “Emma’s Snippets of Serbia” that will be published by Komshe in Serbia in May 2015.