to help invigorate our new minigrow Wabash Ave space in the heart of Chicago, we collaborated local artist Emmy Star Brown + tasked her with creating a mural which complemented the colorful ingredients + natural elements found on the minigrow menu. The end result—an intricate, hand-drawn pattern, layered over warm, inviting tones—graces our dining room wall, bringing a tangible energy into the space, one which matches the urban flow outside in The Loop. We recently met up with Emmy to learn a bit more about her artistic background + inspiration, as well as what her current + future plans are…
hg: hi, Emmy! Tell us a bit about your artistic background and what inspired you to pursue illustration/design…
emmy: I’ve been doodling my entire life! My dad is an artist as well, so he was always encouraging and sharing illustrative techniques growing up. I also have a background in graphic design + visual communications, so learning the digital side of design opened the doors to all kinds of other creative things I could do with my drawings.
hg: your designs consist of elaborate, freehand patterns which are drawn on a variety of surfaces. What particularly about these designs do you enjoy most? Is there a therapeutic reaction to this style?
emmy: there is certainly a therapeutic element to working on murals.
"It's that sweet spot when I feel lost in the design, lose track of time and am in a sort of euphoric state."
hg: what inspiration plays into the patterns or designs you end up creating?
emmy: my abstract forms were initially inspired by the curves and shapes of script lettering. While studying graphic design, I would illustrate my own lettering for projects and fell completely in love with the movement + flowing lines in typography.
hg: are there artists you look to for inspiration? Any fellow-Chicago artists who help get your creative juices flowing or who you’ve collaborated with previously?
emmy: Alexander Calder. Robert Rauschenberg. Keith Haring.
hg: tell us a bit about Chicago’s creative scene. Our hometown of Philadelphia is exploding in the creative department, with new agencies, murals, galleries, etc. popping up regularly—is it similar in Chicago? Is the community as collaborative + supportive of each other or is there some divide?
emmy: I feel that, in the past few years, there’s been a huge shift favoring artists in Chicago—restaurants, shops, agencies, and brands seeing the value of working with independent artists. It’s really amazing to see so much original art around the city and artists getting compensated fairly for their work.
hg: what factored into the design featured in our new minigrow space in The Loop? Did the element of food, or the color of ingredients, play any role in the final design?
emmy: this bold + energizing piece created for minigrow speaks to the dynamic flavors of clean ingredients.
"This seamless fusion of organic lines resembles life, growth and the value of nourishing ourselves with real food."
hg: besides minigrow, where else would we be able to find your work in the city? Anywhere outside of Chicago?
emmy: I’ve created murals for a number of residential spaces, office lobbies, restaurants, etc. Most recently, I created the entryway mural for Fulton Market’s Lululemon.
hg: is there anywhere you’d like to one day install your work? Any “dream projects” you’d like to take on?
emmy: I would really love to do something of enormous scale, with a team of kids + possibly get Chicago Public Schools involved to participate. It’s so important to encourage + educate the little ones.
hg: when you’re not illustrating or designing, where would we find you? Any favorite local Chicago spots you like to frequent or would recommend checking out?
emmy: art shows all around the city—I’m always getting inspired by other creatives. I love the MCA.