Squiggly lines, schoolyard shapes, and striking splashes of color are the foundations of Emily Eisenhart’s work. Last year, the Austin-based artist created an enormous, 43-foot wide mural to celebrate the opening of Madewell’s new store in her hometown.
As OV founder Ty Haney recently said, “OV has a lot in common with Madewell — they put their customers first and curate special experiences for their community just like we do.” So when OV and Madewell began discussing how to bring their recent collaboration to life, it was only natural for the Austin-based company to work with the Austin-based artist who helped bring Madewell’s Austin digs to life.
For the OV + Madewell collection, which features a t-shirt, a crewneck and a limited edition tote bag, Emily created new work that injects OV’s fluid, Recreational spirit with Madewell’s signature stripes. We caught up with Emily to discuss her love of cycling, exploring the Four Corners, and her main source of inspiration — people.
1. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
My perfect morning is waking up, going to the gym early, feeling accomplished and just full of endorphins and alive. Then I’ll sit down at a cafe, have coffee and draw for two hours. Between 8:00am and 10:30am is when I’m sharpest creatively.
2. How does movement factor into your work?
Physically moving makes me more energized, alive and prepared to work. When it comes to my art, it’s very organic — inspired by different colors, plants, nature, sunset colors, and cloud formations I see while riding my bike through Walnut Creek Trails.
3. How does music play into your life?
I try to run but it’s not my thing, so in order to get me to run, I need to listen to music. There’s just something about following the pace of the beat. But when it comes to painting, I almost always paint in complete silence. It’s a balance.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
As an artist, I see the world in color. I’m constantly looking at what people are wearing, or the colors of the sunrise, or the cast of a shadow, or a squiggle mark on something. Literally, there’s squiggle marks on the side of the dumpster outside and I find those inspiring because they were accidents, but they’re beautiful.
5. When did you start creating artwork?
I grew up in an environment where I was really supported in my creativity. My mom realized really early that she had an artist on her hands and generously outfitted me with her supplies or other paint brushes and art classes. I think my first grade teacher was like, Emily is definitely an artist. I tried not to let it get to my head.
6. What's your favorite recreational activity?
100% biking — solo or with friends. But another thing that popped into my mind is tag. We’re all in our late 20’s and 30’s now, but we still play tag. We call it it. It’s quick, it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s competitive, but you’re laughing the entire time. It gets your heart rate up!
7. What’s your favorite recreational area?
Anywhere in the Four Corners. The red dirt and the sky, the rock formations are so physically and visually satisfying. Like sculptures in the desert. I was in Utah with my family last month, just south of Arches area, hiking and just being outside looking at old Anasazi and petroglyphs — it was amazing.
8. When do you feel most yourself and in your body?
I feel most myself on a public mural site — when I’m making art and when I’m engaging with people. I’m naturally an extrovert and I drive a lot of energy and light from talking to people. When I’m on site on a public mural, I’m doing both of those things.
9. What’s your preferred sweat level?
I definitely sweat. I love weightlifting because I feel strong. I like when my muscles feel worked out and I like when I feel sore because then I know I did a good workout. How I like to take care of my body is building muscle. I only found weightlifting a year ago but now it’s probably the thing I do the most.
10. What do you want to see more of in the world?
Art. Maybe that sounds cliche as an artist but I think art can be a part of everything. I believe everybody has creativity, it’s just whether you tap into that or not. I find when people come by mural sights, whether it’s kids or adults, I’m like do you want to paint? And parents are like No! Sally will mess it up! But I’m like Sally won’t mess it up, Sally needs a paintbrush.