Emily Burlew Q&A

How old were you when you started making art?


I wasn’t a very outwardly artistic child. My sister, who is two years older than me was very outgoing when we were kids. She swam and played softball, and every weekend she would take digital art classes with our neighbor who was our designer. I was sort of an introvert and I didn’t want to look like I was copying her or some stupid shit like that. I spent those hours at our neighbor’s house eating fudge popsicles out of the freezer. 

It wasn’t until high school (so, 13 I guess?)  that I started getting into visual art. I became fascinated with symmetrical lines and anatomy. I started making detailed jumbled messes of ink with sketches of animal skulls. 





What inspired you to be a Graphic Designer?


I want to say something magical inspired me, but it was a mix of boredom and frustration. 

I had started playing with Late Nite Laundry around the same time I decided to start fucking around on photoshop. I would explore the software while sitting in my college business classes (a lot of my first pieces were created during my classes). The more I got involved in the Chicago scene, the more I was noticing the crowded, hard to read gig posters being slapped up around town. My friend Stephen commissioned me for my first flyer for a series called Irv & Friends at the Pleasuredome. And then LNL got asked to play a gig and the guy who was putting it on made this horrendous flyer for it. I knew I could make it better, so I did. And after that I just slowly gained a commission base and a following. 


Was anyone in your family an artist/pushed you to pursue art?


I grew up in a very creative house. Both my parents had passions bigger than the reality they created for themselves. Dad loved to build things and my mom filled the house with furniture she had found on curbsides and repainted/stenciled. Both had huge tastes in music. So they both always encouraged me to pursue music and art. Dad framed any art I made or photo I took, mom always took me to JoAnn’s to pick up more supplies. 


What's your favorite medium to create in?


Definitely Photoshop nowadays. I love the different textures and colors you can mess around with without waste. 


Who are a few of your artist idols?


Hairy Who and the Hypgnosis gang have always been a big inspiration for me in terms of colors and whackiness. In terms of idols, I love Jo Minor’s work. Keith Rankin, Gabriel Alcala, Robert Beaty, Eliza Weber, Broccoli Boy, you get the picture. 


Do you have a favorite work of art?

Honestly since quarantine has been slow and a lot of my work has sat around, I’m not really happy with any of it. I do really like the work I got to do with Winona Forever for their 2020 tour. I really wish that could have happened so those could have been printed across the country.  I’ve definitely grown tired of what I was doing 5 months ago. I’ve done a couple new commissions that I like but I can’t show those right now :)


How long have you been playing bass? Do you play any other instruments?


Since I was 11. Just like with art I didn’t learn in a conventional way. Just taught myself in my room until something good came out. Unfortunately that means I never gained a knack for any other instrument, but I can fake it. 


Do you ever find it hard to give creative energy to both visual art and music?


YES. my creativity comes in phases, and that makes it difficult at times to find passion for both music and design. I’ll have moments where I only want to play and perform, and then moments where I’ll only want to stare at my computer screen. Or Ill want to do neither. Early quarantine set me up in the neither category, but slowly I’m gaining motivation to create again. 




Are there any musicians that inspire you to create?


I love working with musicians whose music I really get down with. It’s such a good motivator. Acts like Nordista Freeze, The Criticals, Daddy’s Beemer, and Winona Forever are so easy to work with because their energy inspires me. I can instantly get into my manic headspace when these guys hit me up. 


What are some of your goals/dreams with visual art and music?


I would love to some day achieve sustaining myself as a creative. It seems like that was my trajectory before COVID hit, so hopefully when we get back on tracks that’ll still be possible. Other than that, I just want everyone to have access to sick art for their projects, because when great music has a complimentary, tasty lil package, it just elevates the piece. 


What's your creative process? (certain location, music, etc.)

Most of my work gets accomplished in my bed or at my dining room table. There’s no process except zoning into my laptop for 15 hours.