Emily Bryn (She/Her/Hers) is a queer, Mexican artist and maker based in Austin, Texas. Inspired by their identity, family, and history, Emily uses art to bring awareness to causes they have personal ties to.
How long have you been creating?
Annoying answer- "since I could remember, since I was little, blah blah" but it's true.
What got you into it/how did you get started?
When it comes to being creative... I just got into creating because as a kid I found pleasure in making marks on paper, cutting things up, building architectural and sculptural forms out of cardboard, etc. I just chased my enjoyment as any kid would do. As for my "newer" stuff and politically driven art, I got started after George Floyd died. I sold prints I drew of him, donating 100% of proceeds to a BLM group, and then realized I could create and redistribute money to causes I care about for a living. That was the huge game changer.
Relationships! I am so obsessed with human relationships and interactions and the banal and mundane. I derive a lot of my inspiration from my relationships (parental, romantic, platonic, etc) and cast those moments into the prints I sell or paintings I make. Even with my tote bags and apparel that are about being queer or an immigrant or bipoc, the basis of those graphic designs and slogans are about human connection as well. I kind of view it as something I can't escape- creating work around our collective human experience.
What advice do you have for someone who's starting their creative journey?
I just think it's so important to be reminded that it feels like there's so much at risk when you begin a creative journey, but there isn't always a threat present, I think we just immediately worry about failure. I still always remind myself that what I create doesn't have to be marketable, and that keeps me feeling a bit more grounded. I think rushing your creative journey from creation to marketability at a quick rate is a slippery slope, and one that can push you away from enjoying creation. I could ramble about this for a long time... but if I had to boil it down, I would advise someone by reminding them that they began creating for a voice, most likely, and that voice doesn't have to be something you compromise for money. Don't market yourself past a point of enjoyment, and check in with yourself and with your art and make sure you are still in love with what you are doing.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced so far?
My biggest challenge is such a can of worms! I think having my work and my person misinterpreted over the internet is my biggest challenge... A lot of my work about immigration has a cute, sweet, depiction of people, and I pair that with text about abolishing immigration detention facilities, or immigration customs enforcement as a "career". The dynamics between crayon-drawn people and a political stance interests me, I love how the two look and read as a pair, and I think it catches attention. Anywho- I posted a video once of me screen printing a tote bag on TikTok and it got like 3million views in a couple hours, but it also got me like 3million death threats in my school email. In that moment, people saw that juxtaposition as me making light of the topic, and my white skin tone made people assume I was a white girl who knew little about the subject. That was definitely a huge challenge...defending yourself to the internet, boundary setting with media consumption/interaction, and feeling like I had to justify my culture, upbringing, being Mexican, etc. It's weird to have to convince people what you are.
How important is community in the art and creator profession?
Oh it's definitely the backbone. Whether it's the interactions I have at a market when someone buys my work, or if it's my best friends in our group chat telling me what they like or don't like about a new design- community is so crucial to this career. It's everything.
How does your identity of being queer inform your art (if it does)?
My favorite part of being queer, the part I most romanticize, is how trained we become in reading between the lines, following crumbs, and understanding the depth of subtleties. I think of the inherent queerness in writing letters, when you place your hand so cautiously close to another persons hand out of nervousness to hold it, making playlists for someone, etc. All of the normal things everyone does, but that almost hold an entirely different definition when it's between queer people. That informs my work immensely. On every painting there are song lyrics I write faintly, on all the prints I sell there are images that tell stories in these subtle ways. And it's too funny- seeing the difference between a seemingly heterosexual couple buying a print of mine that's just a bundle of flowers, versus someone at a queer-centric market picking up a print and immediately saying, "god that song breaks my heart!"- it's just like... they know. We know.
When you came out, did that impact your creative process and output in anyway?
Well, I don't draw straight-passing couples ever anymore, really. So, yes!
What's something people don't know about you?
I have a sick, twisted, expensive illness where if I see something I like, I immediately think I can replicate it. Because of that... I have gone through any phase- from learning how to unicycle, to playing the banjo briefly, to building my furniture and painting the rooms of or installing insane electrical equipment for my former partners.
Who was your first queer crush?
I felt a lil funny watching Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls...
If you could have any 'B' rated superpower, what would it be?
I would greatly appreciate my hand being a swiss army knife. I feel like I could get so much more done if I had a knife finger or a super glue palm.
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