By day, Emilie Hempstead, CMI, is a Senior Medical Illustrator for Anatomical Justice, creating illustrations that offer comprehensible visual solutions to complex medical subjects. By night, she is a multimedia fine artist, exploring the worlds of abstract impressionism, whimsical character design, fine silver jewelry, stained glass, and anything else she can get her hands on.
Emilie is a board certified professional member of the Association of Medical Illustrators and graduated magna cum laude from The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Medical Illustration program in Rochester, NY. She is also a proud dog mom, volleyball player, multi-apparatus aerialist, astrologer, and cannoli enthusiast.
Read on to learn more about Emilie and her art…
When did you know you were an artist?
I think I was born an artist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in making things. I found one of my mother’s old sketchbooks in my grandmother’s basement when I was in early grade school, and made it my mission to copy all of her drawings. Eventually, I started making my own drawings, and I just never stopped!
When and why did you decide to pursue art as a career?
When I was a freshman in high school, my studio art teacher brought in her old art portfolio to showcase the variety of things one could pursue with art. She happened to have some scientific illustrations in her portfolio that I immediately fell in love with. I asked her how I could do *that* as a career, and she pointed me in the direction of the Medical Illustration program at Rochester Institute of Technology. I graduated with my BFA in Medical Illustration from RIT in 2010, and I am currently senior certified medical illustrator for Anatomical Justice, creating demonstrative evidence for medical litigation.
What’s been your hardest challenge?
As a professional artist, the hardest thing for me has been finding a balance between creating for others vs creating for myself. Commissions put food on the table, but they don’t always feed my soul, so carving out time for creative play is an important part of my self care. The illustrations I create for work are highly technical, and as such, when I create for myself, I tend towards creating textural abstracts and whimsical characters to find a sense of balance.
What successes or achievements are you most proud of?
I’m very proud to be a board Certified Medical Illustrator (CMI). Medical illustration is a tiny field, with only an estimated 2,000 of us working world wide. Of that number, only a few hundred are board certified, making CMI an elite title that I’m proud to have earned.
What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
Any moment of your day can be an opportunity for creativity. You can try a new hairstyle, arrange your lunch foods by color, change your handwriting for a whole day — the possibilities for inserting small bursts of creativity into your day are endless. You don’t need to have an entire hour set aside to be creative, and not every piece you make needs to be a masterpiece. Some of your pieces are simply going to serve the purpose of being ugly, and that’s okay, because they’ll teach you regardless of how aesthetically pleasing the end product is. If the thought of “wasting” a canvas is too intimidating, then paint on the back of a pizza box to take the pressure off.
Did the pandemic have an impact on your work?
The pandemic didn’t affect my work at all.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your art with readers?
You may be wondering, what’s the story behind the name of my website and social media handles, Second Jane? Jane is my middle name, and it also happens to be the middle name of my mother, and of my niece. Hence, I am the second in a line of three Janes. It pays homage to the fact that my artwork is part of my story as an individual, and also part of the story of my family lineage at the same time.
ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.
Visit the ART@EPL page to see all the artists who have led workshops and exhibited work at the library as part of ART@EPL.