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Emmeline Hall

Growing Up

As a child I was always drawing, and by some stroke of good karma I was always considered one of the ‘best drawers’ in the class. My siblings and I grew up in a book-filled, TV-free house where creating art and making things were just part of the daily routine. The lack of exposure to pop-culture, though a total blessing, had it’s funny moments too—when I was about 10 I entered a coloring contest, where the subject to be colored was the popular animated character from a pizza ad (remember the Noid?) Anyone who had watched TV (aka every single other kid) knew that the Noid was supposed to be red. Blissfully unaware of this, I spent hours coloring him a beautiful bottle-green. The judges took pity on me and awarded me 3rd place, but not before I almost died of embarrassment.

Adulthood

I continued drawing and taking art classes through high school, but upon graduating found myself burnt out. I ignored the advice of my teachers to apply for art school and instead turned my attention to theater costumes and wigs, which I had always had an interest in. One cosmetology license, one BA in Theatrical Costume Design, and one big move later, I found myself living in Minneapolis and working at the well-respected Guthrie Theater. Though I enjoyed theater work, I found myself being pulled back to drawing, particularly picture book illustration. After starting a family of my own, I decided that life was too short not to do the thing you’re absolutely passionate about and that it was time to make an illustration career happen…which brings me to where I am today!

As An Artist

I’m pretty old-fashioned (wait, does ‘retro’ sound cooler? then I’m retro) and I work entirely with traditional materials. Colored pencil, watercolor pencil, pastel, maybe a little pen and ink—I enjoy trying new techniques, but I prefer things that don’t need to be plugged in. I love knowing that if the power got shut off, it wouldn’t stop me. I adore browsing the children’s section in the bookstore, and I pick up little bits of inspiration from every artist I encounter. My list of influential illustrators is a mile long but includes Leo and Diane Dillon, Trina Schart Hyman, Heather M. Solomon, Juan Wijngaard, and Amy June Bates. I work out of a teensy but wonderful studio space in my home, where I’m surrounded by 4 kids, a dog, and a very supportive husband who occasionally needs to escape to the garage.

Things You Didn’t Know About Me! (Or maybe you did!)

  • I have a degree in Spanish, though I’m shy about actually speaking it
  • I am trained as a wig-maker
  • I am very superstitious
  • A day is not complete without some form of chocolate or bacon
  • I’ve never had a cavity (knocking on wood—see number three)
  • I balance my checkbook on a daily basis
  • I can’t stand sitting down and am constantly doing 10 things at once (my husband refers to me as a hamster on a wheel)