I painted this smiling pig in space as a Chrismukkah present for my partner Rob, it was our first year together, and it started me down a path of art-making I never saw coming! I have loved painting and drawing all my life, but it’s always been just a hobby I do in my spare time. After gifting Space Pig to my partner (it now hangs in the living room of our home together!), I brought Space Chicken, Space Cow, Space Sheep, and finally Space Mouse to life, and with my first full series complete, I started thinking bigger (with a lot of encouragement from Rob!). My mom, who has done art professionally for years and years, has a studio and online store, and just for fun I put my space animals series on the website, and started tagging along to markets and craft sales with a small number of prints to sell.
Fast forward to now and I’ve got about 30 pieces that I sell prints of online and at markets. I’ve done a handful of commissioned pieces, and sales from my artwork are helping me pay my way through school! I’m a joint honours student at the University of Waterloo studying environment, resources and sustainability, as well as biology, and this is my final term before I graduate (hooray!). I moved to Guelph a year and a half ago after falling completely in love with the city and the community (and a Guelphite who already lived here…) and I haven’t looked back since!
Most of my art is happy, silly, whimsical animals — I have a series of Flower Queen bunnies, unconventional unicorns (including Boris, the black bear unicorn, eating his blackberries!), and lots of farm animals in space! I’ve always been an animal lover, and working in animal rescue and animal and environmental activism can often be difficult emotionally, so creating art like this has been my way of spreading positivity and providing myself with a space to be happy and remember all the reasons why we do this hard work.
My art has also been a reason for my mom and I to spend more time together, at shows selling our art, and working on our online store to make sure it stays up to date. Her artistic talent, creativity, love for and dedication to animals, and support and encouragement have been hugely influential in my life and I wouldn’t be so successful in creating my art if it weren’t for her.
When I graduate in April, I will be dedicating myself full-time to creating more art and taking our studio further. I cannot wait to see where this is going!
Art by Emma Hawley-Yan