Picture of Purpose
Artist Emily Jones creates success with focus on family portraits
While many found themselves isolated and lonely during the pandemic, EMILY JONES discovered a way to connect with countless others through art. “During quarantine, I was pregnant and I spent many days and nights alone as my husband was working the evening shift at the time,” says Jones. “I felt very isolated and alone and spent a lot of time thinking about the value of connection and spending time with loved ones.”
Those thoughts sparked an interest in portraiture, and Jones extended an offer on social media to paint a portrait of loved ones using a family photo. When she finished the first one, she realized she was onto something. “After I completed the portrait, they decided to purchase it from me. I shared photos on Facebook, and the response was overwhelming,” Jones says. “Three years later, and I have had non-stop commission requests since.”
Prior to 2020, Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in studio art at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and worked as an art teacher at a local art studio – a job she lost due to pandemic-induced social isolation protocols. Now Jones owns her own business, Messy Hands Art Studio LLC, and she specializes in family and pet portraits. She also offers original art focused on women’s empowerment. “I love to paint people,” says Jones. “Throughout the years, that’s mainly been my focus, even in my personal art. There is something so special about conveying human emotion through paint and brushstrokes.”
Many of the commissions Jones receives are to paint memorial portraits of lost loved ones, which adds an extra layer of meaning to the work. “What’s even more special is when someone comes to me to request a painting of someone they love. I can feel the intention and act of love through their requests,” she says. “While I, of course, cannot heal the pain of losing a loved one, I do my best to help memorialize them and capture their essence so that my clients always have something to remember them by.”
Jones offers memorial portraits of furry family members as well as human ones. “One of my clients commissioned a pet portrait for her mother who recently lost her furry friend,” says Jones. “After receiving her painting, she said it helps her so much that she hung it up right in her doorway so that when she arrives home from work, it’s like he’s still there waiting for her because it’s the first thing she sees.”
The process of commissioning a piece is simple. “When I am contacted about a commission request, I have a quick discussion with the client regarding reference photos, size, pricing and turnaround time,” says Jones. “When the client is ready to proceed, I send them an invoice that requests 30% of the total cost due before I get started on their portrait, and the remaining 70% is due before shipment.” Clients can utilize a payment plan while Jones completes the painting. Once it’s finished, Jones sends pictures of the final product before mailing it to the owner.
Jones hopes to build on the success of her business in the next few years by opening an art studio where she can teach classes and work on her paintings. “I love bringing art to the community, as well as helping others to leave their mark on the world. To reach this goal, I am currently focusing on growing my business from my home studio, as well as making connections through vendor markets,” she says. She’s currently slated to participate in Citizen Studios’ first annual Popcorn Festival, a film-inspired vendor fair on August 26.
For now, Jones says she appreciates the support that has enabled her to earn her livelihood through her lifelong love of art and creative expression. “It’s always been my dream to focus on art full time, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without my lovely clients,” she says.
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
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