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Meet Emerson Frost, illustration intern!

This spring semester, we were delighted to have an intern from Maine College of Art and Design working in our Communications department, creating illustrations for our conservation and education departments. Emerson Frost drew and painted loons (see above), macroinvertebrates, trees, plants, and other flora and fauna. We asked Emerson to answer some questions about the internship in order to share some of the process with you.

About Emerson:
Emerson Frost (they/them) also goes by Emmett. Emerson is 20 years old and will be a senior this fall, majoring in Illustration and working mainly in acrylic paintings and digital art. They have always absolutely loved birds, but some of their other interests include bugs, the natural world in general, mythological creatures and other fantastical concepts, and their lovely little dog, Moxie!

Broad-leaved Enchanter’s Nightshade by Emerson Frost

Q: What was the most unexpected thing you had to draw/learn/do during this internship?
A: I’ve never done botanical illustrations, so learning how to accurately draw plants was an interesting process. Additionally, I’ve never painted bugs in this amount of detail, and while it was unexpected it was also something very fun and interesting to learn to do! I found that when looking for references for some of the stream bug species, a lot of pictures were either low quality, hard to make out, or of dead specimens, so it’s very neat that I was able to make accurate depictions of what live specimens might look like in a clear and easy-to-read way.

Q: What’s your favorite bird to draw?
A: I’ve always loved drawing and painting different types of vultures, especially Turkey Vultures! I enjoy making art of all different birds though—they all have things about them that make them unique and fun to depict in different ways.

Q: Has this experience made you look at the natural world any differently?
A: It has; illustrating different native plants helped teach me to identify new species I didn’t know about before, and painting the different stream-living bugs helped me really appreciate how intricate and fascinating they all are, even though they’re really little!

Q: What would you really like to draw/illustrate next?
A: I’d like to try out the painting techniques I learned and developed on some different birds I’ve painted before (at least a Turkey Vulture), as well as applying those skills to different subjects, like maybe paintings of fantasy creatures! Mostly I’m excited to make art of more birds, combining this new experience of painting in high detail with my usual painting style that’s a bit looser and plays around with fun use of color.

Stonefly Larva by Emerson Frost

Q: What got you interested in being an illustrator/artist?
A: I’ve been drawing since I was very little. I’ve always loved making art with stories and characters, whether that was interpreting what I read in books, or making up my own. I’ve also always had a fascination with the natural world, especially birds, so I’d often make drawings while looking through my bird guides. I was (and still am) very inspired by Sibley’s illustrations. I just love the act of creating. I think art is fascinating in that it allows people to share a piece of their imagination and what’s going on inside of their head, and make concepts and ideas visible that wouldn’t exist otherwise!

Spiny Crawler Mayfly Nymph by Emerson Frost

Q: How has this internship changed how you think about being an artist (if it has)?
A: I had never done this kind of scientific illustration before, with a higher level of detail than I usually paint. I had never seriously thought about it being a path I could take in my career as an illustrator, but after this internship I found that I am both capable of doing this sort of illustration, and find it fun to do! While I’ve always enjoyed painting birds in my spare time, most of my art has been more stylized and often digital, making character designs and stories with those characters through small comics, so I’ve always figured I’d go down that path (perhaps making graphic novels and/or doing freelance illustrations in that sort of area). Now I am definitely more seriously considering scientific illustration as another career option, and hope to continue doing these types of projects and paintings alongside my other illustration work!

Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: If I had to pick just one, I’d say periwinkle!

Emerson Frost