Emily Brock: Illustrations selected for book cover

Published 8:34 pm Friday, March 13, 2015

By Mark Schmerling


“I like owls,” smiles Emily Brock, an artist/illustrator, who has created arresting owl drawings.

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Brock also likes drawing cats, horses, caribou and whimsical characters and scenes.


The young Landrum artist was recently honored by having her painting chosen for a book cover. Emily was commissioned by Welcome Home Press for her watercolor painting to be on the cover of “U Got to Have U Some Fun” by Andrew Harkless, available this March.



Brock, a native of Hendersonville, who spent much of her younger life in Taylorsville, S.C., began her journey in the art world at a young age.


“Mom let me take a lady’s art lessons in fifth grade,” said Emily. She enjoyed the experience, eventually following that up with art classes at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, and then for two years at Mitchell Community College in Statesville.


In 2007 she received a four-year bachelor of fine arts degree in studio arts from Appalachian State University. Those four years included studies in sculpture, drawing, fabric and illustration. While there, she won various awards through Appalachian State.


That college experience also drew the talented young woman further into the field of drawing and illustration. Being able to work in many media is a real plus for Brock.


“I like that I can do a whole range of them (media). I’ve got a whimsical style that my college instructors really like,” she said. Much of her other work is more serious. She now has fan bases in both styles. Her move toward illustration is more of a blend of both other styles.


Brock has exhibited her work as far away as New York City. She finds Craigslist to be a valuable tool for locating and selecting venues. Craigslist was her source for learning about the contest for cover illustrations for the Harkless book.


Being selected as the cover artist for the Harkless book is a boost for Brock, and she has received positive feedback for her style and her work ethic. In a book cover contest she placed among the top three.

“I worked quicker than the others,” she noted, having paid attention to returning e-mails promptly, and being proactive during the process.


Before submitting her cover design for U Got to Have U Some Fun, a story about a man who received a mystery cruise ticket, Brock again showed her practical side, by reading the text first, then submitting her cover illustration based on her interpretation of the book’s theme. Publisher Debra Hartmann was impressed.


In 2008, Brock was a finalist in a contest sponsored by Blue Moon Brewing Company in Golden, Colo. Last year, she was commissioned for a sidewalk chalk mural for the Hub City Farmers’ Market in Spartanburg. Her other exhibit venues include Ohio, the Polk and Spartanburg Counties area, and at Woolworth Walk in Asheville.


An individual who had a show at Spartanburg’s Cultural Center let Brock decorate the venue with her illustrations, allowing “a huge range” of people to see her work.


Brock, who downplays her marketing ability, nonetheless enjoys some commercial success. She notes that realistic drawings sell more than some of her other styles.


She’d like to create more illustrations, book covers and write her own children’s books. “We read a lot of books,” Brock notes of herself and her husband Justin. She’s actually begun a children’s book, the beginnings of which have found favor with more than one publisher.


Would she like to pursue book writing and more illustrating?


“I’d love to,” Brock answered, adding that she’d like also to contribute illustration work for newspapers and magazines.


Perhaps Brock’s whimsical side encourages her to drink hot tea and eat a piece of chocolate before drawing. In any case, she said it helps her.


Having two young children has changed Emily and Justin’s life in some ways. The two formerly spent time hiking and camping; both of those activities are now on hold. Emily’s drawing schedule is now at least somewhat dictated by their children.


“I usually draw when the kids are napping or in bed,” she said.


Her local venues for selling her illustrations include local farmers’ markets, including Landrum’s.


While she attended Appalachian State, instructors there told students that only some five percent of illustrators make it commercially in art on their own. Brock was not then, or now, discouraged.


“When it’s something that you love to do, it’s hard not to do it. I would like to see my art somewhere. That would make me feel successful.”