Emma Stanley’s creative path from sketching pets to running an Etsy Shop

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Senior graphic design major Emma Stanley has always been surrounded by animals. She is the proud mother of five parakeets, and one of her birds, Willow, lives with her on campus. Growing up in Swedesboro, New Jersey, her family had two dogs, Baxter and Gypsy. Those two pets were not just her furry companions, but her artistic muses. One random day, she decided to use Baxter and Gypsy as the subjects of a sketch, and the rest was history.

“I drew a lot of pets and animals because I had two dogs at the time when I was younger,” Stanley said. “Pets are a big inspiration for me when I do work in my free time.”

Before pets became a huge part of the picture, Stanley says that she always knew art was something that she connected with, not just because of influence from her family but as a vehicle to express her interests and hobbies.

“I grew up in a pretty creative family and I think overall, pretty much since the moment I could touch a box of crayons, I was doing artwork,” Stanley said. “When I was younger, I pretty much just drew anything that interested me at the time and that helped me expand my artistic skills to another level. I was constantly drawing anything that related to me, whether it was a band that I was into at the time or a video game I played when I was younger, it was anything I felt like drawing.”

As she got older, Stanley became obsessed with digital art, using her interests as the subjects of her work. By her senior year of high school, she took her passion for art and turned it into a profitable business. After she graduated high school and the Covid-19 pandemic left her in a state of boredom, she opened up an Etsy and Redbubble shop called EStanleyMedia to give herself something to do. With no resources or space to ship out or make the products on her own, the two websites gave her a platform to build her small business, selling signs on Etsy and her digital sketches as stickers on Redbubble.

“A little bit after high school, I wanted to get into working more digitally and selling that, especially because I didn’t have the resources to be physically sending stuff out myself,” Stanley said. “I got into a lot of the E-commerce, I made signs on Etsy that people could just download themselves on the site, and I went on RedBubble and started making a bunch of cute little stickers based on the stuff I had drawn, so that way I wouldn’t have to ship it out myself since I didn’t have those resources.”

During the pandemic, Stanley also began honing in on her love of animals by drawing portraits of her neighbors’ pets. For her, pets are such an important part of her art because not only have they positively impacted her life, but they bring joy to so many others. 

“I have such a connection with the pets. I love my birds so much and I have a dog at home that I love. During the pandemic, I was doing a lot of pet portraits for my neighbors and people I knew, because I like that feeling of having a pet and loving it unconditionally,” Stanley said. “There’s always such a wholesome story with making anything pet-related. I love it because it makes me happy to create a cute little pet, and if I’m doing work for someone else then it makes them happy too.”

Fast forward to the present, Stanley is finishing up her last semester at Rowan and is set to graduate in the spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art, along with a concentration in graphic design and a minor in marketing. As an art department member, Stanley has been working as the designer and secretary for the Gallery Publication since her sophomore year. Aside from being a part of the art department, she is also a member of the Dungeons & Dragons Club. Post-graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in the graphic design field, specifically in brand identity and packaging design. 

A glance at her artistic portfolio shows this best, but Stanley’s interests span many genres. Whether it be her pets, superheroes, or her love for Taylor Swift, she is passionate about many things. Reflecting on her life, Stanley says that out of all of her niches, art will always be her favorite. A medium offering her the ability to not only be creative or practice self-care but to share her personality with others in simple and personal digital sketches.

“I think at this point, art is truly a part of who I am. I think ever since I was really little, it has always been something that’s been a part of me and It’s very therapeutic,” Stanley said. “I’ve never gotten tired of making art, even if I have a full schedule and busy classes. I’m constantly doing art for homework, and I still find enjoyment and I’m always very proud of it. I think in general, it’s a source of passion and an extension of who I am and it’s something that I always want in my life that motivates me.”

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com.

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