Interview with Emily Joy from Emi.Nation Artistry

This month’s featured Creatrix

One of the things I love about Etsy is being to connect to fellow artists and creators with geographical distance being no problem, thanks to the internet and Skype video chats (ooh er, I remember when that idea was a thing of pure science fiction!)

I’d like to introduce you to Emily Joy, fellow Team Leader at In Here Life Is Beautiful and a talented Pyrographer. Just recently, she gave her shop a new look and has added many new items. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her work on an Etsy front page in the not too distant future…

1. How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?

Naming my shop was actually quite a difficult process. I didn’t want to be too specific, in case I decided to expand my brand and do non-pyrography items, so anything with burning or flames didn’t seem to fit. After many discussions about possible names, I was drawn to creating a shop name that was catchy, yet spoke to my mindset when I create. I felt like I was most moved by the concept of the artwork flowing from a divine source or that inexplicable part of humanity that pushes us all to create. Often, artists will say that their favorite or best work seemed have its own will or mind. It needed to come out, and the artist was happy to be the conduit. I often feel that way when I create. The word emanation means “from the source” or “flowing from the source.” I have a bundle of creativity floating in my body, and all of my art courses through me from that initial point. I decided to do a fun take on my name, Emily, and call it “Emi.Nation” – both to honor the definition of the word, and to create my own little Emily world!

I find it difficult to name exactly what was the main inspiration for my shop. I have always loved to paint, draw, sculpt, whatever I could do to get messy and make art! However, I never really took myself seriously as an artist. I had a driving impulse to create, but selling seemed out of my league. Friends, family, and teachers disagreed with me, often urging me to either take classes or open up shop. I think was their support and encouragement, coupled with my desire to grow and honor my artwork as something meaningful, that pushed me to open Emi.Nation.

2. What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?

I’m a pyrographer, which means a wood burner. I create boxes, bangles, rings, necklaces, Matroyshka dolls, wall hangings, and more! Honestly, as long as it is made out of wood, I’ll burn it! I’m always looking to expand to new items and themes.

I believe my signature product at this point would be my bangles, especially my custom ones. I think most people love my Chinese dragon and Koi fish bangles, which is wonderful, since I love making them! My custom work has been taking off more than anything. I strive to have your vision or inspiration become a wearable piece of art. Customers often compliment me on how I work with them to produce something even better than they could have imagined.

I have made bangles that have highlighted peoples’ faiths, such as the dogwood branch for Christianity or the sea & storm bangle for a Falun Dafa devotee. One husband wanted to show his wife how much he loved her, but didn’t know how to translate it or what to focus on. After a bit of back and forth, we talked about where they were married and I recreated Newport beach (with artistic license).

A friend who loved the stars got one of my favorite bangles, the moon over the ocean, with constellations that represented people who were important to her. 

My commission products come to be from the combined effort and love of myself and the person purchasing it. There is nothing like helping someone create a piece that they will love forever. 

3. Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?

I find my inspiration comes mainly from nature, fantasy, science fiction, literature, religion, and spiritual concepts. I tend to draw from one or two of these categories for a while until I itch for a change, and switch to a new theme. I honestly find the entire world to be brimming with interesting visuals, and I rarely know where my next idea will come from. My husband will have to check before he throws out random scraps of paper because I’ll scribble pieces I want to create on whatever is closest when inspiration strikes me!

I’m different from the other pyrographers I’ve seen because of my style and my custom items. I have found many wonderful pyrographers out there, but I haven’t found any who really seem to draw in the same manner that I do. Pyrography is very similar to pencil drawing in terms of how greatly the artist can vary in what they do. I tend to be a realistic drawer and I favor dark backgrounds. It takes much more time, but I think it looks so crisp. I’ve been expanding to lighter pieces and I’ve found that I’m falling in love with both styles. 

I’ve also described above a bit of what I do for custom work. I think my favorite example of my custom work is actually a box, not a bangle. I have been fortunate enough to create handfasting boxes for couples who have been or will be married. One couple, Dustin and Jessica, had been married before but they didn’t have a nice place to keep their handfasting cords (the ribbons you use in your marriage ceremony). I worked with Dustin to surprise Jessica and make a box just for them. In the end, it had different runes that represented strong relationships and their future, the Norse world tree Yggdrasil, and an owl and snake (their spirit animals). It is one of the pieces I’m most proud of. And most of all, I love that Dustin and Jessica now have a piece of art that helps remind them of their vows and the love they share. 

4. What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I love the exacting process; there is no eraser for wood burning (although I’d use one if I could)! Each piece has to be careful and deliberate, and I’ve always been attracted to activities that encourage both creativity and discipline. I can’t rush any piece and therefore I really get to connect with everything I make. I also love the fact that my art is not limited to sight and touch; you can smell it, too! My house and the pieces smell like campfire, which is one of my favorite scents in the world. 

5. What is your best advice to newbie Etsians just opening their shops?

I think my two biggest pieces of advice would be (a) take photos that show the customer your product and your brand and (b) don’t undersell yourself! It is a chronic problem with beginners, including myself, to price items low in order to encourage sales. Most of the time, this will come back to haunt you. Consider the time it takes to create and promote the item as well as your materials. If you undersell, you’ll either have people wondering why a quality piece would be so low or assuming your piece isn’t as nice as it is. Plus, if you gain momentum, it can be a long climb to the correct price point for you. Customers will wonder why your prices have suddenly rocketed. So be strong and really value yourself! 

As for the photography, there are a few basics I cannot emphasize enough. Do research and find other shop owners who have a style that you admire. Figure out why you admire it and then make it your own. But there are a few core concepts that will always be present for successful Etsy sellers. 
1) Your product should always be in focus.
2) The backgrounds should never distract from your item.
3) Take your photos in natural light. Indoor lights can make the color off in the camera, and direct flash (which is on every point and shoot, phone camera, and even the basic DSLRs) will blow out your product and make you lose the detail that your customers will want to see.
4) Edit every single photo that goes up. Even if it is minimal. There are free editing websites and programs that can work wonders for your photos. 

6. What are your top 3 favorite shops on Etsy and what do you like about them?

So tough! As soon as I try to think about it, that question stresses me out! I can say that I make sure to look at every single product that Creatures from El creates, because she continuously creates jaw-dropping, unquestionably unique sculptures. As soon as I can, I will get a custom piece of work for her. I only have about 300 ideas in mind. 
7. Where else (other than Etsy) can you be found online?
I have a
Facebook page and a website
8. Do you have any coupon codes / special sales / upcoming or current promotional events going on in your shop?

Free shipping for anyone who types in NAVIGATRIX !  – it will run for a month.

Thankyou Emily Joy! Wishing you much success with your wonderful shop and many more happy customers.

If you’d like to see what is currently on offer or approach Emi.Nation about a commission, visit