Emily Winfield Martin is the top seller of handmade art on Etsy, selling her dolls and illustrations and helping her fulfill her dream of creating children’s books.
Projects: Black Apple blog
XOXOing: Indie Art, Books and Crafting
Lots of people ask Emily if she went to art school — and she did! But she didn’t fit in, because she was really interested in narrative illustration, like comic books and movies. So she expected she’d work in the service industry.
When Etsy came along, its simplicity made it “really unintimidating” to start selling her works, and soon began selling enough to start phasing out her shfits she was working at the video store.
Then as her store took off, a brief detour where she ended up making dolls alongside Martha Stewart on TV. Turns out, that wasn’t really she wanted to do. She wanted to do kids’ books, like her first title “The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer”, which she put out even though it was a craft book publisher. That success in 2009 led to another “if you build it, they will come” project Oddfellows Orphanage, which were illustrations in a particular world, all waiting for a story to tie them together into a narrative.
Her favorite solo series, her carnival show, let her keep focusing on improving her skills, even while still working on her book efforts. Then, serendipitously, the editor in chief of children’s books at Random House pushed her to make Oddfellow’s Orphanage into a real title. This was a great way of a gatekeeper embracing indie success, to the benefit of both.
Emily says she’s a misfit, and she had felt she’d end up working in a coffee shop because there was no place for her. But now we live in a time where any misfit can, with bravery, and love, and tons of hard work, make their imaginary thing real, and make a place for themselves. The thing she hadn’t realized before was that the audience is the alchemy that can make your imaginary thing real. People from all over the world, from countries she’ll never visit, came together to make her thing real, just as love made the Velveteen Rabbit real. And your audience makes your imaginary thing real.
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If you like Emily’s work, you’ll love the work of other artists she recommends: