About Me

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." - Robin Williams

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What made you decide to become an artist?

I used art as a way to center myself when I was a child, and then in school to kind of take a mental break from the stress of classes based heavily in pure academia. I always preferred to be making something rather than studying from a book. That's not to say that I don't enjoy reading - I power my way through about two or three books a week - but I'm a terrible test-taker. I get anxious, and then I procrastinate, and then I get more anxious because I'm procrastinating. It's just a bad cycle. So, I always found a certain comfort in creating something with my own to hands that I could see, as opposed to filing away facts for future use.

I was originally studying Neuroscience. I was an EMT for three years, and planned to go to medical school. Two years into my undergrad I woke up one morning and realized, I'm completely miserable. It was true. I was doing a Studio Art minor while pursuing a Neuroscience B.S., and I looked forward to the three hours a week I spent drawing more than any of the other classes I spent 40+ hours a week doing work for. It was my father, surprisingly, who originally urged me not to go to art school, who convinced me to make a change (He is a Mechanical Engineer, PhD, MS, MBA, and a college professor; needless to say, a little more inclined to hardcore academia than I am).

I thought it would be a bad idea to make my hobby my career because I would grow to resent it, but it has had the opposite effect. I can spend hours chosing the perfect font, or playing on Adobe Kuler to create the perfect combination of colors. I am constantly watching online tutorials for the Adobe Suite, and figuring out how to improve my art. I feel I've found my niche, and I'm very happy here.

However, as my friends and family know, I can't sit still for very long. My future goals include:

  • Completing a BA in Graphic Design, most likely at UW Whitewater
  • An MBA (don't know where yet!)
  • An Associates in Interior Design (also offered at MATC)
  • Travel - anywhere and everywhere! The world offers endless inspiration

Starting from about 8 years old, I nabbed the family camera on trips and snapped photo after photo, and then used Windows Photo Editor (cringe) to tweak them until I was satisfied. When I discovered GIMP when I was 13, a world of possibilities opened up. I was the one my family came to when the Christmas photos needed to be edited, or when photos needed to be taken for special occasions. The discovery that GIMP could be used as a blank template was my springboard into the world of graphic illustration and later, design.

I began drawing traditionally even earlier. My hands were always covered in Sharpie doodles - much to my mother's consternation - and I have since graduated to doodling on every other available surface. I am constantly drawing things that I see and things that I image, and striving to improve my skills.

I love the little things. I have spent upwards of four hours choosing the perfect font, and then another two picking the perfect colors for the layout. I'm extremely detail-oriented; if it's a pixel off, I will find it. I have quite a bit of customer service experience in retail settings, and so far it has helped me immensely in the design world. Logo design, branding, and graphic illustration are specific categories of design that I wish to pursure.

In addition to painting, drawing with a number of media, design via traditional and graphic means, and photography, I also knit, crochet, sew, embroider, make chainmaille and jewellry, and occasionally whittle.

I am that weird outgoing person on the street who will ask how your day is going, or compliment your shirt. I am pretty sure that my blood is about 90% coffee. I love all things vintage, especially fashion, and will regularly spend all day at one Wisconsin's many antique malls without buying anything. I love renaissance faires, and I try to go to at least one every summer. I can go a week or more eating the same food or listening to the same song if I get hooked on it. I can't watch embarrassing scenes in movies because I'm so empathetic that the second-hand embarrassment is too much. I'm a little obsessed with my cat, Stinky.


April 15, 1995

Born in Milwaukee, WI. I lived in Oconomowoc, WI (yes, that is the correct spelling!) for almost 10 years.


My father's job took us back to the United States; this time, Boston! I lived in Boxford, MA, until I graduated from High School there in 2013.


I moved to Madison, WI and the rest of my immediate family moved to IN. I planned to take a full gap year to re-evaluate my academic priorities, but I went to the Graphic Design graduation show at MATC and fell in love, so it only ended up being a gap-semester.


We moved to Hong Kong!  My father said upon arrival, "as long as we're here, we might as well see it!" - and boy, did he deliver. We visted 11 different countries in 4 years - a couple more than once!


I was accepted to Tufts University in Medford, MA, and pursued a Neuroscience BS there for 2 years before deciding that it just wasn't for me. I decided to take a break and step back from academia.


I am a full-time student in the Graphic Design program at MATC, and loving it! I am building my portfolio in preparation for the internship/job hunt upon graduation.

My Portfolio

A comprehensive collection.

Portfolio Images © 2016 Emily L James