Emily Mann of Ink & Indigo

We are enormous fans of Emily Mann as an artist, a human being, and as a mother and friend. We love her sense of humor,  her zest for life -- and the way she can keep it real as well. We can always rely on her to make us laugh or start a new communal joke, and we adore her for it. What others may see as a small work on paper or a painting, she has the ability to transform into a broader idea that she creates large scale for some of the finest hotels in the world for new people to admire daily. Thanks for sharing Emily, and thanks for being our friend!

From my perspective you're a wonder women!  You seem to able to balance many projects in many mediums simultaneously.  A women after my own heart.  What is the trick to keeping all these balls in the air?

Aw thanks! I have really enjoyed that commission work has kind of forced me to stay on my toes, switching mediums all the time based on which project I'm working on. I guess over time I've just gotten good at that part of it! I have gotten a lot of confidence in my work this way-I'm not really scared to try something new or push the limits of my skills. I have been thinking a lot about my less commercial work-the indigo pieces, the encaustic works-stuff I've been making just for me. I want to keep developing this body of work and maybe even try to do a gallery exhibition. I just want to make and do everything! Ha!

As far as keeping balls in the air....man. I don't even know. Honestly I think my brain is geared specifically for this field. I have a weird, very visual, kind of photographic memory that seems to help keep all this stuff sorted. I completely abandon all but the essentials when I'm deep in a project. Of course some stuff does suffer and I'm shite at working out, staying on top of family admin stuff, finishing endless house projects, keeping up with friends and family. It's hard. It helps to remind myself that this is just the season I'm in. I opted to leave a more than full-time gig to work for myself so I could be home with our kiddos. Juggling it all around to make it work is the challenging reality but I'm grateful we have been able to do it for almost 7 years now. My husband is awesome and a true partner. Our parents are here and help us so much. We have really good childcare and school situations this year which is making my life much less insane. Knowing I'm in the company of so many amazing people who are working through the same things really does help so much. I love this about my network of creatives here in ATL and friends like ya'll that I've met through the wonders of social media!

For those who don't know, what is art consulting and how did you get into it? 

Art Consultants are art professionals who help select and procure art for their clients, which in my specific field has primarily been interior designers working on hotel and hospitality projects. Consulting is a much more encompassing job than you'd probably ever imagine! It involves a little bit of everything: fine art, design, research, business, fabrication, logistics, marketing... 

Its kind of funny that I ended up in consulting! I had put myself through undergrad and had planned to go straight to grad school in Chicago or Boston. As I neared graduation I really felt I wasn't ready to take on a mountain of debt for graduate school. I wanted to get straight into working in the arts, but unsure of how to go about it. Rather than come up with a plan I just moved to Atlanta, got a dirt cheap apartment and a bar-tending gig and started scoping out local art related companies.  I had a friend who met someone who said they were an art consultant. I had never of heard of an Art Consultant but I was like dang! That's what I want to do!  I put together my resume and started cold calling EDL, a small consulting firm that was here in ATL at the time. I couldn't get anyone on the phone so I just went there in person! I totally just walked in there and said hey can I be an intern here? I think they were kind of blown away that someone would just show up and offer to work for free. Ha! So I worked there everyday and worked the restaurant gig at night to pay the bills. It was only a month or so before they offered me a full time gig. I moved from Artist Liaison to Project Manager to Art Consultant there and really credit that experience with teaching me just about everything. I also gained a gaggle of awesome friends who I'm still very close with a decade and many career moves later. 

Emily Mann, Ink and Indigo, Abstract Indigo 1, 22 x 12 each, install view .JPG

As an artist what is the benefit to working with an art consultant?

One neat thing is that consultants have opportunities to place art from artists at all levels-from emerging to established. Access to projects you would never have the opportunity to work on otherwise. Continuous rep-ing of your work at essentially no cost to you. Working with creative, hard working people who will advocate for you and your work and cheer on your success. Opportunities for creative collaborations and challenges that keep you growing and developing techniques. While its probably not for everyone, its a great revenue stream for lots of folks!

How did you get involved with the hospitality industry? How do these projects usually work? What are the pros and cons?

The consulting firms I have worked with are all specifically focused on the hospitality industry, so most of the opportunities that come through are going to be in hotels, restaurants, etc. Now that my portfolio includes works on a range of these types of jobs and in so many mediums I can show that I am able to work on just about anything!

My connections to the consulting world allowed me to slowly transition from full time consulting to full time studio artist, which is how I have been able to work from home to be with my kiddos while they are small. My friends and contacts knew I understood the clients, applications, and constraints of the industry and happily included me on applicable jobs. Cultivating these successful relationships by always meeting my client's needs has been everything for me! 

The projects can go a number of ways but my favorite projects are those that I am able to get in during the earlier design phases. This allows for the most consideration of how the art can work within the space and how it will speak to the design of the property as a whole. A lot of times I will get to see the design inspiration boards, floorplans, and renderings of the property and get to create concept sketches and provide ideas I think would work well. I communicate with the consultants to get them whatever they need to present the idea to their client, whether it be images of relevant previous works, sketches, mock-ups, samples, etc. There are usually rounds of feedback and tweaking of ideas before everything is finalized and the order is placed. A lot of times on these types of jobs I will provide photos as the piece is developed and submit them for feedback. Its generally much more collaborative this way then some artists are comfortable working. My work is typically professionally framed or mounted before it is shipped off to install in its final home. If I'm really lucky, I might even see an install pic! 

Pros: So many of the projects are fun and exciting and are properties I'm really proud to work on. I love that so many people will come in contact with my work this way.  

Cons: The timelines! So often in this biz I wait forever to hear about a job and when it finally comes through its a hot rush. This can be really disruptive and stressful so its something I'm trying to get better about managing. Some projects have tight budgets, which can be tricky-its good to know when to say no, some projects just can't be done under tight budget constraints. Certain clients may want photo updates and to give input while the commission is in process. You really have to get good about managing client expectations and walking that line between pleasing the client and creating work that is truly in your voice. 

Your work is found in some really cool places around the world?  What has been your favorite project so far?  

Oooooh that is hard! I am really proud of the sculptural clay wall piece I recently did this Spring for the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. The giant knot pieces I just finished up for the Cliff House Hotel in Maine were surprisingly challenging and involved lots of technical, engineering type solutions to make them work. I am really proud of how they turned out and can't wait to see them installed along a 30 ft wall behind the reception area. 

What advice do you have for artists that would like to work with an art consultant?

First, have no fear. Most people in consulting are down to earth art lovers and are really approachable. Be ready to put your best foot forward, with good images of your work, well organized and labeled jpgs, and be able to speak confidently about your work. Know your limitations, maybe don't sign up for a 4'x8' commission if your largest pieces are 2' or something.  Keep in mind that consultants work under often ridiculous deadlines so your response time is everything to them! Don't be shy about updating the consulting team when you have new work-they are always looking for fresh pieces! There is a fine line between communicative and annoying-don't hassle consultants too much for updates on jobs! Totally ok to check in occasionally but understand the timelines on these jobs tend to be long and they have little control over them-they will get back in touch when the project is ready to move forward!  Oh man, I could go on forever about this! People can totally email me if they have specific questions about consulting!

I know you've recently launched your online shop -- what other new projects do you have coming up?

I finally launched my shop earlier this summer so non-hotel people can actually purchase prints and originals right on my site! Woohoo! It was so much harder than I imagined but I'm so relieved to finally have it up there! I have really been enjoying my take on the #100dayproject, the #100daysofinkandindigo. I am wrapping it up now and am honestly going to be a little sad when its done. The community you gain when doing something like this is really special-its been great to have all the encouragement and feedback on these little blue babies! I've met so many new creative peeps and am consistently blown away by the work people are sharing daily. 

I am joining up with some really talented artists forming the Southern Artist Collective. We are going to launch a collection of originals available exclusively through the Collective on Instagram this fall! I am having major inspiration overload right now and can't wait to get started on some really special pieces for it!

I have a ton of hospitality commissions in the pipeline, which is both exciting and a little daunting honestly! You'll be seeing lots of mixed media works from me-people are really into the sort of alternative media stuff right now so keep an eye out for glass works, cut paper pieces, large scale textile installations....its going to be crazy! 

Emily Mann, Artist, Designer + Creative Consultant

Website / Shop: http://www.inkandindigo.com/

Instagram @inkandindigo 

Facebook: Ink and Indigo