In high school, art was her worst subject. Now, an Elora woman is making a name for herself through her custom art and murals.
“I took art all throughout high school, I was a straight-A student, and it was my worst graded class," said Emily Walser, a 20-year-old acrylic artist.
Starting with a painting she did of hip hop artist Post Malone in April 2020, Walser’s Instagram account now shows over one hundred photos of her work, from custom art pieces of celebrities, to TV show characters and animals.
“I like to really challenge myself,” Walser said, mentioning she hasn't turned down a request for a piece.
She said a couple of her custom art pieces have been noticed by celebrities, including rappers Logic and Machine Gun Kelly, who liked a tweet of one of her paintings.
“Machine Gun Kelly is one of my favourite celebrities, so I was super excited about that,” said Walser.
Offline, residents may have also seen Walser’s murals in businesses across Fergus, Elora, Guelph and Kitchener. Walser said she enjoys doing murals and did her first was at Fresh Box Market in Fergus.
“It started with someone I knew, or a friend of a friend, and now I work with a lot of businesses that just have heard of me,” said Walser.
“When I’m doing it in the moment I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m here to paint a mural,’ I’m here and I’m excited to do it, but I don’t think of the repercussions of that where people remember that, and they see that, and they’re like, ‘Oh, Emily did that,’” she said.
"It's the coolest feeling ever."
Another reason Walser began doing custom paintings was that she lost both of her jobs at the start of the pandemic.
“I was working between Eggcetra and Chuck’s Roadhouse, so I was working from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day,” said Walser. "I got super bored so I started painting again, and I got overwhelmed with how many requests I got to start painting, and when it came time for everything to open up again, I just didn’t go back to work.”
Once requests started coming in, Walser took the opportunity to hone her technique and improve on her skills. In the beginning, she said she might repaint a custom work three times to get it perfect.
“I was just teaching myself all of this and so I picked up on another technique and started branching out,” said Walser. “I’ve definitely improved a lot and I’m definitely being a little bit more nitpicky with a lot of what I do and trying to make sure it is perfect.”
Today, Walser is undergoing an apprenticeship to become a tattoo artist. She said she had always wanted to become a tattoo artist and completed a student placement with InkSmith Tattoos while in high school, where she learned how to draw portraits.
"I was so amped up when I was 18 to start tattooing right away, and I think everything happened the way it was supposed to," said Walser. "I think that the past two years I’ve not built myself for tattooing now, but I’ve mastered a technique, and skill, and I'm still learning and there’s still always still more to learn.”
With her new role, Walser said she may take a step back from custom art work. She plans to still continue painting murals for businesses and organizations.
“Balancing custom tattoos and custom paintings is a little hard, so I want to keep painting, but I think I’m going to do what I want to do for a little bit,” said Walser.