We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Satterfield and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Life as a career artist will forever be risky business. Work (and paydays) can be wildly inconsistent, which at times leads to questions like “Will I make enough to live this year?” or “If I fail, what do I do?”. When I began to pursue digital art as a career in my early teens, I had these ideations that work as an artist would be smooth sailing once I got my foot in the door at some big studio or something (haha, that’s a big no). Even after 5+ years of working for some of the ‘big studios’ in Los Angeles, finding work can still be as scarce as water in the desert. There will at times be work for some months, a few weeks, or just days, and then I’ll go for a long stretch living off savings. The artist life ain’t always glamourous, haha.
While there will always be risk associated with my work, I’ve found healthy ways to manage it. For one, because there is that little buzz in the back of my head warning me, “Don’t get too comfortable- things can and WILL change fast”, I find myself constantly learning to adapt and evolve to keep up with trends in art styles, untapped niches, and the next big thing in digital creative tools. Additionally, I try to keep in mind that- no matter what ends up happening in the future- at this present moment, I am able to make a living doing something I love. I have so much gratitude for how, throughout the years, certain pieces fell into place at the perfect time for me to end up where I am at this moment. No matter the risk I’ll face in the future as an artist, it’s worth it to continue living a life true to what I love.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being ‘an artist’ is probably the only truly consistent self-identification I’ve had throughout my life- but what kind of artist, is the answer that ends with a big question mark.
When I first started seriously drawing at 10 years old, I aspired to be a manga comic book artist. At 15, that dream changed after falling in love with so many animated movies that I decided animation would be the thing to define my work for the rest of my life. Fast-forward to now, at 28 working full-time at DreamWorks Animation, I’ve found that THE answer I thought I had found 13 years prior has started to change too. Over the course of this past year I started asking myself, “Well, where do I want to go next?”
I found my answer via ample amounts of time for self-reflection due to… specific circumstances in 2020 (haha). Having so much time at home to myself allowed me the space to check-in with myself, re-evaluate my current relationship with my work, and what it is that makes me excited to be an artist. I realized that, while I still love working as an ‘animation artist’, I also want to do so much more. I’m finding that taking time to develop my personal style, take on freelance gigs that push me to do creative work outside my norm, and even explore creative outlets that don’t necessarily involve drawing have nurtured my soul in ways I did not expect.
So, here I am, in 2021. I’m happily working as a visual development artist in the animation industry. However, I’m also allowing myself to take time outside of my job to explore other ways in which I can find joy being an artist. At present I’ve taken an interest in sketching fashion drawings, exploring music production to create fun beats, and finding new ways in which I can express myself. This has been a fun journey that has given me so much self-fulfillment, and I’m really excited to see where I’m at a year from now!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the things I love about Los Angeles is how it’s broken up into a lot of different micro cities. There’s Burbank, Los Feliz, Glendale, NoHo, Silverlake, WeHo, Hollywood, DTLA, etc… each area has a unique vibe and a variety of spots to enjoy either solo or with company.
If I were showing a friend some of the best LA has to offer by area, I’d start with a brunch at “Home Restaurant” in Los Feliz. This old house-turned-café has a cozy back patio feel. Their lattes will blow away even the biggest coffee connoisseur, and their menu has a flavor and style to suit any taste. From there, I would jet up to Glendale to scope out the latest art display at the Neon Museum. This non-profit museum, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is dedicated to showcasing and preserving neon signage dating back to the early 1900’s. Their darkened gallery space beautifully showcases the bright splendor of such a unique artform, which the museum curators describe as literal ‘lightning in a bottle’. For dinner, Burbank has a somewhat secretive a restaurant tucked away near the top of its hills – “The Castaway”. Even locals aren’t often aware of this hidden gem- it’s one of those spots you have to hear about from someone via word-of-mouth to ever know to look for it. Upon arrival you are greeted by a stunning, sleek entryway studded by palm trees on the horizon and a humble koi pond beneath the crossway. While the food and drinks uphold the standard excellence expected of any top-tier dining in Hollywood, the main highlight is the gorgeous view of LA on the patio dining area. Here you can take in a view of the distant skyrises of Glendale, Burbank, Noho, and even as far back as DTLA. Enjoying a cocktail and dinner here while drinking in an iconic LA sunset is an unbeatable experience.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to take this moment to show appreciation to my incredible mom and dad – Colleen and Steve – for giving me a solid foundation in my life to express myself and follow my dreams. They continuously show me unwavering support no matter what crazy thing I try to achieve, and their unconditional love has helped me through some of the toughest hurdles in my life.
From there, I have my dear friend Anna who currently resides in Atlanta, GA. She and I attended Savannah College of Art & Design, and we happened to meet through our animation classes. I could write a book about how amazing, talented, and compassionate this person is, haha. We survived some of the toughest times in school together, boost each other when we struggle with life stuff, and celebrate our successes. I know that no matter where life takes us, we’ll have each other’s back.
Since moving to LA, I have met such incredible people who have impacted my life in unexpected, amazing ways. Such people include Lauren Salvo, Sal Volo, Brandon Martinez, Jared Brody, Liv Y, Ali W, Nati Casanova, Ilana Schwartz, and so many more. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for the good souls I’ve encountered on my journey.