Behind the scenes
from the artist's perspective
Nice to meet you Emily. Who are you?
I’m an artist living in the countryside, north of New York City.
I’m in the process of building a three story studio with my husband, Paul Isabella, on our 15 acres. We like to collaborate on projects, small ones like building wooden miniatures to big ones like building our studio!
In my freetime, I like to play the ukulele (although, I’m not very good), cook with friends and hunt for treasures at flea markets. No I don’t speak French but I’m always trying to learn a little bit here and there. One of my best friends lives outside of Paris so I travel to France about once a year and the more I visit, the better my French becomes.
“I studied textile design and currently design and illustrate for a number of different applications like books, fabric, wallpaper, clothing, packaging, rugs, upholstery, toys and paper goods.”
My ideal world
“A world without fear.”
WORKING FROM HOME
Present us your typical day. Tell us what makes for you a day out of the ordinary.
I usually get up, make coffee and a simple breakfast and I work all day.
My work is very enjoyable so this isn’t a bad thing for me. In the evenings, I go for a jog, cook dinner, play music and read or maybe watch a movie. The last movie I watched was Blow Up directed by Michelangelo Antonioni – so good. I have ideas for some illustrations based on stills from the film.
Sometimes I leave the house to visit friends, or go to a ballet class – those are the days that are out of the ordinary. I have a hard time leaving my work sometimes.
We live at the base of the Catskill Mountains. My window looks out into the forest. There are trees outside my house that little birds really love. Hundreds of them nest in the trees right there and it sounds like something out of a fairytale.
It smells good here!
Right now I’m burning cedar incense so it smells like I’m in a little indoor forest.
MUSEE RODIN'S COMMISSION
Impression Originale commissioned you to work on a project with the Musée Rodin in Paris.
How did you go about this commission?
For me, a soft pencil captures the best of my ideas. Once I am ready to solidify the ideas, I typically use gouache. The Musée Rodin wanted the sculptures to be accurately represented but still very stylized. I think layering linework over graphic shapes helped bring that request to life.
I haven’t visited the museum. Last time I was in Paris is was next on our list but we didn’t make it there so on my next trip it will definitely be at the top. I love the softness of Camille Claudel’s work. Although she was often compared to Rodin, she had her own voice. She did have a sad story – I’m sure it was hard to receive recognition as a female artist back then.
SURPRISE GIFT BAG [Original Design Emily Isabella for Impression Originale], distributed by Musée Rodin in Paris.
WHERE IS HOME
You are American.
Can you tell us what France represents to you – artistically speaking?
In a way, I feel most at home in France.
I spent a semester abroad in Provence when I was 21 and those days are some of my most cherished. I think I really found my artistic voice in France and things clicked for me there. My favorite art lives in the Museé d’Orsay. Vuillard is my favorite artist and Toulouse Lautrec is a close second. There is a room on the first floor that houses two of my favorite pieces by these artists and I wish I could live there.
How would you like to be called (referred to) as a professional?
“I just make things because I have a compulsive need to create.”
I guess the easy way to describe my profession is “artist”. I am always exploring new mediums and applications for my work. I consider myself a designer but also an illustrator. Somedays I do more textile design than illustration and other days it’s the opposite. But mainly, I just make things because I have a compulsive need to create.
Tell us about other special commissions
I recently designed a tea set for kids! I loved that sort of thing when I was little so it was exciting to think about how my childhood self would have been so excited.
A Stranger's Coat
A stranger asked me to paint her coat. It was such a pretty coat, I was happy to do it!
I designed these trinket boxes for Anthropologie.
I saw Jane Birkin sing at Carnegie Hall. It was a very special night so I made sure to bring my sketchbook.
This artwork was done for Kate Spade.
Everyone Loves New York
This illustration of the Met in NYC was done for a book called Everyone Loves New York.
If colours and brushes were emotions, which one(s) would you be?
Content blushy rose, snappy vermillion, and a fresh smalt blue – I’m a smaller brush – squirrel hair size 2.
Join the world of Emily
It’s a secret: Emily likes to eat gummy bears in the winter – but only few each day.