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‘A viable career option’ tied to Charlestown and French bulldogs

Emily Quigley creates custom watercolor pieces, many based on scenes from Charlestown, where she lives.
Emily Quigley creates custom watercolor pieces, many based on scenes from Charlestown, where she lives.

Emily Quigley (@emilyquigleyink) can paint whatever you want: a childhood home, beachy motifs, floral designs for wedding invitations. But she’ll be happiest if you ask her to paint a French bulldog, her favorite animal. The Charlestown resident creates custom watercolor pieces and chatted with the Globe about her experience as a commissioned artist.


Q. How did you get into art?

A. I have been into art my entire life. My mother’s very artistic. She paints for fun all the time. My grandmother was very artistic. It was always just part of my life growing up. I really focused on art in high school. In fact, the only AP class that I ever took was painting and drawing. In my high school, actually, we had to play sports every season. I got detention because I would skip sports and go to the art studio instead because it was just my passion. But I decided that it probably wasn’t going to be a viable career path for me for some reason. I ended up actually studying English literature in college. After about seven years in corporate America, I realized I was just feeling really unfulfilled. Something was missing in my life. And so I decided to rededicate myself to my art, and here I am now. It ended up being a viable career option after all.


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Q. A lot of your work is centered on Charlestown. How are you inspired by your surroundings?

A. The first series that I actually did in watercolor was a collection of six pieces of pictures around Charlestown. I like to say that the things that I paint are meaningful to the people who own them. Most of the work that I do is custom. What I do is I paint the places, the animals, the things that make you feel like home. Anything that really inspires that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart you get when you’re somewhere that you’re really comfortable or brings you a lot of joy. That’s what inspires me.

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Q. What is the process of creating a commissioned piece?

A. Generally, I ask a lot of questions because I like to be sure that whatever people commissioned me for, it’s exactly what they want because it is quite an investment. Also, I just want them to be happy because your name really is your brand. But I do definitely have my signature style that I think people come to expect from my work. I think my favorite pieces, in general, are the pet portraits, specifically French bulldogs. I get asked to paint a lot of those. My French bulldog is actually an Instagram celebrity. So, we’re pretty involved in the community there, and I’ve had the opportunity to paint a lot of famous Boston-area Frenchies, like Boomer and Brinkley, and Elvis the French bulldog and his sister Coco Bean. I love dogs. My dog is sleeping on my lap right now. He’s like my best buddy.


Q. What role does social media play in marketing your work?

A. Honestly, I only market through Instagram. I’m really thankful to have a platform like Instagram where you can share anything you want, anytime you want, and you can reach unlimited audiences. But I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the platform. I love it because it has helped me build my business to what it is today. I actually think about 95 percent of my inquiries come direct from Instagram, versus 5 percent from Google. But it’s tough because everybody is so involved with curating the perfect feed and making sure that they get enough likes and comments on everything. It can kind of make you lose sight of what you’re working toward as a larger goal because a like on the Internet does not necessarily equate to success in your business.

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Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at ysabelle.kempe@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @KempeYsabelle.