You know when you see a piece of art that just strikes you right in the heart? You know, the kind that gives you the real life “heart eye emoji” feels? That’s how we feel about Emily Keating Snyder’s happy and colorful work.
Emily’s pieces make “color an experience” and we can’t wait to share our interview with her, with all of you! Enjoy!
Hi Emily, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background!
I’m a fine artist working in a few different mediums, my main focus being colorful, minimalist abstract paintings that incorporate embroidery. Growing up, I was always an artist and a crafter. I lived for making things, the weirder the better. In college I delved deeper into art history and studio art at NYU. I’m never one to put myself in a box or limit my interests, so being in an individualized study program I was able to also study film and literature and more niche things like book arts.
After college I had a few jobs in the art world and beyond, but always knew I wanted to be a full-time artist. I continued refining my style and sharing my work online or in fairs and coffee shops, wherever I could. I made a lot of stuff that I’m not crazy about looking back, but it was all in service of getting better and more authentic. With every new series I’m still refining and growing as an artist.
Describe your style as an artist. What medium do you use?
Color is the first thing that comes to mind thinking about my artistic style. It has always played a huge role for me. I’d say my style is a balance between playfulness and simplicity. My current body of work is very simple, straightforward abstract acrylic painting on raw canvas. I use thread to add color and texture without competing with the paint color and brushstrokes. I love working with tactile materials and keeping them visible in the finished piece.
Where do you find inspiration?
Sometimes inspiration lands in my head with no warning, like Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in Big Magic. With these paintings, I had an image come to me of one pure paint color on canvas. I’m not the first artist to do this, so I knew there would be something more to add to make it fresh and my own. I’d already been working with embroidery so it just felt like the right thing to try.
With other things, the inspiration happens slowly over time. I’ve been obsessed with looking through magazines and catalogs my whole life. I’ve gotten so many ideas from them, tearing pages out that had colors or patterns I loved or cutting out individual items and collaging them. Doing this since middle school or maybe earlier, it finally evolved into my ongoing collage series “When I Have.”
What’s a typical workday look like for you? Tell us about your process.
I try to keep creative making days separate from more business upkeep days, or at least chunk my time so have a couple hours of art before getting swept up in Instagram or email. But this is a work in progress! It’s often a mix of everything.
When I’m in art making mode, I like to be very deliberate about shutting everything else off. I put my phone on airplane mode and, for a bit of company, I usually have YouTube videos playing in the background. I get too picky about music and it’s just easier to have white noise or a quiet voice chatting.
My art process looks different from day to day. I once heard another artist describe it perfectly: there’s decision time and there’s no-decision time. When I’m starting a new collection or brainstorming for a commission, it’s all tinkering, asking questions and eventually making decisions. Then when I have my color mixed or my embroidery pattern laid out I can relax and get into that meditative, no-decision state of just moving my hands.
What does your workspace look like? Do you work from home or in a studio? Describe your space and personal style within it.
After years of cramming my “studio” into shared New York apartments (and loving it!), I’ve been lucky enough to claim a whole sunny room in my home in L.A. since moving here in 2012. It’s still relatively small and I’m looking forward expanding to a more industrial space where I can get messier. But it’s beautiful and I think it does reflect my style well, with bright white walls and a plaster ceiling, simple white curtains and an original built-in from the 1920’s. That mix of clean and contemporary with vintage craftsmanship is very me and very L.A.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Musicians? People that inspire you?
It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s studied art that my favorite artists include Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella. I think Helen Frankenthaler would be my all-time favorite. I love so many contemporary artists too - Kara Walker, Sally Mann, Dabsmyla, Ai Weiwei - an eclectic mix.
I talk about Joni Mitchell all the time, she’s like my fairy godmother. I’m so inspired by her and the idea of living in the canyons in the 60’s and 70’s. Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator and the artists she shares always reignite my excitement for creativity, her books are wonderful too. I have so many favorite creative people, it’s hard to narrow down and also an eclectic group. Jess Lively really inspires me with her philosophy and lifestyle.
Where can we see your work?
The best place to find my art is on my website, emilykeatingsnyder.com. Available originals are for sale there, as well as information on how to commission custom art. I have prints available on my website and in my Etsy shop. To see even more art and what’s coming next, I’m on Instagram at @emksnyder.
I’ve just released a new collection of paintings called Blue and I’m working on my next collection in a fresh color palette for this summer. I have a couple of exciting collaborations in the works that I look forward to sharing soon (hint: it’ll all be on Instagram!).
What are the next steps in your career?
Right now I’m focusing on continuing to refine my work, getting clearer on what I want it to be and evolving the embroidered paintings. I’d love to expand my collage series as well. I’m not looking too far into the future, but I’m excited to keep building relationships with interior designers and individual collectors. Showing my work publicly when it feels really aligned is amazing, but I love placing my art in homes and spaces like hotels and restaurants where it really becomes part of people’s everyday lives.
Thanks for sharing Emily! We loved learning more about your process and your work.