So I guess a bit about me to start... I've been an artist my whole life. It's not something I've managed to translate into a career, but it's very much a lifestyle. My talent was initially recognized by my first grade teacher, (now) Sr. Bernadette...I haven't known her since then either. I started taking art lessons in first grade from a wonderful old woman named Mrs. Kessler. She would make little gifts for every occasion and she spelled my name a different way every time—that was fascinating to me...emaly, emalee, imaly, emilee, emalie, and so on... From her, I learned techniques in acrylic. I still have many of the paintings I made on canvas board in storage somewhere. I need to get them out to document them :)
Fast forward to high school and I took my first art class, Intro to Design—the prereq. to all the other art classes, my first semester, zero hour. My sister was a junior and she was taking a zero hour so if I wanted a ride, I had to take one too. It was a great thing—after that I took every art class the school offered from jewelry to printmaking to art history to graphic design. I didn't really "get" graphic design then (I actually didn't get it until I became a designer to pay the bills). By my senior year I'd taken all the classes and started making up my own. A whole lotta other stuff happened too...my beloved art teacher, Mrs. Oberhelman, died from cancer my sophomore year and my best friend, Rachel Chan, died in a motorcycle accident my senior year on St. Patrick's Day. My dad had died when I was in 4th grade from a heart attack, young, he was only 40—by the time I graduated high school I think I'd been to more funerals and knew of more people who had died than I could count on both my fingers and toes. I don't think that's the typical Midwestern, middle-class experience.