Interview with illustrator and painter Emily Vino

Interview with illustrator and painter Emily Vino

I've had the pleasure of photographing Portland area illustrator and painter, Emily Vino a few times now. Not only is she a talented artist, but her passion for sharing aspects of spirituality is magnetic. I've been looking forward to sharing this interview with you all for a while. We delve deep into where Emily draws her inspiration from, what advice she has for fellow entrepreneurs and the evolution of her work.

Enjoy the read!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

Wow I never thought about the when! I was a creative child. I was in dance from age 5 to 18, did piano lessons for 10 years, & thrived in art classes in high school. But because of where I'm from, I didn't think "being an artist" was an option. That idea did not exist in my family or small town's consciousness. Creativity was presented to me as a hobby & not a career or lifestyle.

It wasn't until college that I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was majoring in psychology but sneaking all kinds of studio classes in to fulfill generals. My professor from my film photography class took interest in my work & suggested I pursue some form of visual art. It would be a few years before I had the guts to do that, but he planted the seed.

I still couldn't wrap my mind around getting a BFA in Painting (even though that's what my heart wanted) so I did a BFA in Graphic Design instead. It felt like the "practical" art degree.

What did your evolution look like on your way to becoming a "full time" artist? After graduating I quit making art for 3 years. The idea of working in a design firm did not appeal to me. Instead I did odd jobs I enjoyed such as being a barista, working at a day care, & working at an independent bookstore. 

In 2015 I decided I wanted to start making art again. I got out my paints & decided to paint whatever I was feeling. I had my period & was having cramps so I decided to paint a moon & draw a uterus on it. I was also studying to be a doula, so I had all of this birth imagery & information rolling around my head. I posted the uterus painting on Instagram, casually, & someone wanted to buy it. It would still be 2 years before I started selling my art regularly, but again, a seed was planted!

A few months ago I quit my job to do art full time. I do freelance illustration / graphic design, I take painting commissions, and I sell my t-shirts & prints online. The hardest thing about the transition has been discipline, time management, & loneliness.  Where do you draw your inspiration from?  This happens in two distinct ways:

1) I take inspiration from whatever I'm learning. I read a lot, I love to learn, & whatever I'm researching usually becomes a theme in my work. When I went searching for a more feminine spirituality than what I was raised with, out came the moon paintings. When I was studying about birth, out came the breastmilk & uterus paintings. After a powerful experience with energy work, I couldn't stop drawing spines & painting the chakra system.

2) Painting from a place that is non-verbal, non-linear, void of themes, concepts & planning. This is harder for me to do but at times feels more magical. This would happen in my college art classes. I would get to class knowing I had 3 uninterrupted hours to paint. I'd put in my headphones & it was just me & the colors. These works usually end up being abstract. I really feel that I was visually interpreting the music I was listening to. It's a very in the moment process. 

You share a lot about spirituality, how does that influence your work? Spiritual exploration is such a big part of my life that it can't not influence my work. I was  religiously devout for many years, even as an adult. The institution I was raised in was afraid of questions and doubt, pressured you to have certainty about what you believed, & was void of mysticism. 

When I met my now husband in 2012, he seemed unfazed by doubt, welcomed everyone's questions, & introduced me to a mystical & experiential spirituality. It's been a liberating, fun, & sometimes painful unfolding of spiritual exploration ever since. 

Do you have any advice for fellow artists/entrepreneurs?  Protect your magic.

When art was something I did on my days off, it was so much easier to enter the intuitive, receptive, creative heart/gut space. When you make your art your business, you have to enter into a specific head space & become very organized & calculated. The administrative work such as marketing, sales, bookkeeping, posting on Instagram is always on the back of your mind. These are two very different energies. If I let that business brain take over & run my life, it becomes difficult to create. And it really wants to take over!

Protect your magic by carving out big chunks of time to just be with your work. Treat your work like a lover. Make time for it, make it sacred, set the mood, light candles, burn incense, play music, dance around to get in your body. Take yourself out into nature to get out of your head or on an artist date to visit galleries or any other visual space that inspires you. What can we expect next from you? I'm currently designing 5 zines. One for each energy type in Human Design (think astrology + extra). Those will be available for purchase in January. See work in progress photos on my Instagram @emilyvino. 

I'm also working on a large commissioned moon painting for someone's bedroom. 

And lastly I'm putting together a body of mixed media work themed around how moon cycles, energy work, & spirituality brought me back into my body. It's secret / sacred though until it's finished. The reveal will be sometime in 2019 :)

You can find Emily on Instagram @EmilyVino Check out her work for sale here and visit her site: