APL Storyteller - Emily

I was in the children's section of the library one day, when the always lovely Kristi Helmkamp approached me about an Artist-in-Residency opportunity at the library. Of course, being the easily excitable "yes" person that I am, I agreed to participate without hesitation! I was super flattered to be invited, to think that someone thought I had something worth sharing. It also came at a time when my family was facing some personal struggles in the dead of winter depression, so the project was a welcomed other-focus.

There were four parts to the deal. First, the demonstration. My artwork process has always been an escape from my sometimes overly extroverted lifestyle, so sharing it with the public was super intimidating. I worried that my process would be so underwhelming to observe that people would be bored and disappointed. It ended up going super smoothly. I got comfortable and chatty and actually enjoyed it.

Second, the workshop. Being a digital artist, I had to get creative with this. I separated out the layers of a few of my better known Appleton building illustrations, printed them, cut them up and let people put them back together, layering the shapes as I did within the drawing program. I was humbled by the turnout - especially on a winter weeknight in the library basement. People of all ages came. All the tables were full. Guests seem to have as much fun as I did. I was so encouraged by this event.

Third, and most daunting, the lecture. What to say!? What to say!? Public speaking!? Ugh!? This took some serious reflection. Explaining my process seemed boring. My inspiration in the Iconic Appleton series seemed obvious. I realized that what I really have to share is gratitude for what this (at that point) 8-month journey had brought me - the community’s overwhelmingly supportive response through market events, Blue Moon Emporium sales, encouraging emails, and the library residency itself. So, that's what my lecture was - a personal background story of low self-esteem and misdirection that ended with a sincere thank you. And, cookies. Of course. Because everything is better with cookies.

Taking the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone did a work on me. I am now more comfortable to share all that I'm doing, and better at talking about it. Although I’ve always been creative, it wasn’t until this past year that I actually started to consider myself an “artist”. That personal transformation of self-acceptance has been really empowering.

Read more stories like Emily's here!