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Featured Shop: Emily McDowell

Jan 20, 2014

by Emily McDowell

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My name is Emily McDowell, and I live in Los Angeles, California. I write and draw greeting cards, art prints, dish towels, tote bags, temporary tattoos and whatever else I can come up with.

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My line is inspired by universal, relatable human truths and observations. Why we do what we do, how weird and flawed and awesome we are. Design-wise, I’m always into different things. Some constants are folk and outsider art, traditional African and South American patterns, and the hand-painted renderings of common household products that decorate the bodegas in parts of Los Angeles.

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I’m always writing down ideas in one of about 50 notebooks I have going at once, or even in my phone. This often means I end up with undecipherable phone lists that say things like “Cave people. Christmas pudding. Joy?” It’s a flawed system. The best of those ideas each get their own Post-it on my studio wall. From there, I’ll do sketches on paper, and when I’m happy with the final wording and design, I’ll finish it in color on the computer using a digital pen and a Wacom Cintiq.

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There are a lot of pretty cards and gift products out there, and a lot of things that make me laugh, but my work is designed to live at the intersection of funny and beautiful. My favorite cards speak to the relationships we really have, not the ones we want to have. The goal is to make work that makes strangers feel like I must be reading their diary, but not in a creepy way.

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I don’t know if I can pick an all-time favorite, but right now I’m pretty into the two cards I made for giving to your (unhappily) single friends on Valentine’s Day. I know what it’s like to have a bummer of a single Valentine’s Day, when it seems like everyone around you is rolling around on a bed of rose petals with their true love, so I wanted to make some cards that spoke to people who might be feeling left out. Before I had a product line, I always wished these existed, and now they do, because I made them. Which is super gratifying.

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Even though my business is technically not even a year old, I feel like I’ve been doing this for a long time. I worked in advertising as a copywriter and art director for ten years before launching my line, and there is a huge amount of mental overlap between working as an agency creative and doing what I do now. I love writing and drawing, of course, but I get most excited by uncovering the universal truths that connect us and finding new ways to express them.

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Etsy has played a gigantic role in the success of my business. Last January, an Etsy staffer put my Awkward Dating card on the Etsy Facebook page, and from there, it ended up everywhere: BuzzFeed, the front page of Reddit, Glamour, Daily Candy – seriously too many places to count. I ended up shipping over 1,600 of that one card in eight days from my Etsy shop last year, and that represented the push (and the money) I needed to launch my wholesale line last May. My life and business looks 100% different today than it did a year ago, and Etsy was the catalyst that started the whole thing.

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Having this business feels like stepping fully into who I truly am – like moving into a house the universe built for me. (Not to go all woo-woo on you, but there you go.) For the first time, at 37, I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I mean, I have no idea how to run a company – my business card should really say “Educated Guesser” – and I have infinitely more responsibility today than I did in my former career, but I experience so much less daily stress now. Of course, there’s still stress, but it’s different: it’s the stress of growing and learning, versus the stress of spending my life doing something that didn’t quite fit. I am tremendously grateful.

Maker and studio shots by Lehua Noelle.

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Everyday Achievement Certificates: A Notepad of Awards, Funny Notepad, Award Certificates by Emily McDowell
Everyday Achievement Certificates: A Notepad of Awards, Funny Notepad, Award Certificates by Emily McDowell
Everything Will Be Ok / OMG Everything Is Fucked Mug - MATURE // Funny Mug, Statement Mug
Everything Will Be Ok / OMG Everything Is Fucked Mug - MATURE // Funny Mug, Statement Mug
emilymcdowellstudio
$18.00 USD
The Original Groceries & Shit Tote Bag Large, Sturdy, Heavyweight Canvas Grocery Bag by Emily McDowell
The Original Groceries & Shit Tote Bag Large, Sturdy, Heavyweight Canvas Grocery Bag by Emily McDowell
emilymcdowellstudio
$20.00 USD
Unsolicited Parenting Advice Baby Card, Funny Baby Card, New Mom Card / No. 243-C
Unsolicited Parenting Advice Baby Card, Funny Baby Card, New Mom Card / No. 243-C
Breathe Tote Bag Large, Sturdy, Heavyweight Canvas Grocery Bag by Emily McDowell
Breathe Tote Bag Large, Sturdy, Heavyweight Canvas Grocery Bag by Emily McDowell
emilymcdowellstudio
$20.00 USD
Father's Day, Mom Card/ Fathers Day Card No. 287-C
Father's Day, Mom Card/ Fathers Day Card No. 287-C
Freaking Great Mom Card, Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card for Wife, Funny Mother's Day Card / No. 245-C
Freaking Great Mom Card, Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card for Wife, Funny Mother's Day Card / No. 245-C
AAAAAAAHH You Bought A House Congratulations Card / No. 218-C
AAAAAAAHH You Bought A House Congratulations Card / No. 218-C
Honorary Dad Father's Day Card, Stepdad Card, Godfather Card, Uncle Card / No. 241-C
Honorary Dad Father's Day Card, Stepdad Card, Godfather Card, Uncle Card / No. 241-C
Honorary Mom Mother's Day Card, Stepmom Card, Godmother Card, Aunt Card / No. 236-C
Honorary Mom Mother's Day Card, Stepmom Card, Godmother Card, Aunt Card / No. 236-C
Thank You For Existing Love Card, Friendship Card / 145-C
Thank You For Existing Love Card, Friendship Card / 145-C
Awkward Birthday Card by Emily McDowell / 136-C
Awkward Birthday Card by Emily McDowell / 136-C
The Honor Of Your Presence Love Card, Funny Valentine Card, 224-C
The Honor Of Your Presence Love Card, Funny Valentine Card, 224-C
Everything You Want Pony Ferrari Pizza Birthday Card / No. 219-C
Everything You Want Pony Ferrari Pizza Birthday Card / No. 219-C
Being Awesome Father's Day Card by Emily McDowell Hand Lettered Plaid Greeting Card 213-C
Being Awesome Father's Day Card by Emily McDowell Hand Lettered Plaid Greeting Card 213-C
TINY Thank You Cards, Set of 10: Thank You For Existing by Emily McDowell / 145-T
TINY Thank You Cards, Set of 10: Thank You For Existing by Emily McDowell / 145-T
Platonic Soulmate Birthday Card, BFF Birthday Card, Best Friend Birthday Card / No. 233-C
Platonic Soulmate Birthday Card, BFF Birthday Card, Best Friend Birthday Card / No. 233-C
Not Technically Mom Mother's Day Card, Stepmother Mother's Day Card, Godmother Mother's Day Card, Aunt Card, Dad Card / No. 237-C
Not Technically Mom Mother's Day Card, Stepmother Mother's Day Card, Godmother Mother's Day Card, Aunt Card, Dad Card / No. 237-C
Checklist Father's Day Card, Funny Father's Day Card / No. 244-C
Checklist Father's Day Card, Funny Father's Day Card / No. 244-C
It's Too Early For You To Say Things Mug by Emily McDowell // Statement Mug, Funny Mug, Coffee Mug
It's Too Early For You To Say Things Mug by Emily McDowell // Statement Mug, Funny Mug, Coffee Mug
emilymcdowellstudio
$18.00 USD
No Pressure Funny Graduation Card / No. 206-C
No Pressure Funny Graduation Card / No. 206-C
I Can't Believe You're Graduating (No Offense) Funny Graduation Card / No. 205-C
I Can't Believe You're Graduating (No Offense) Funny Graduation Card / No. 205-C
Go Shorty Corgi Dog Birthday Card / No. 217-C
Go Shorty Corgi Dog Birthday Card / No. 217-C
World's A Better Place Baby Card, Funny Baby Card / No. 242-C
World's A Better Place Baby Card, Funny Baby Card / No. 242-C
Funny Belated Birthday Card, Awkward Belated Birthday Card / No. 229-C
Funny Belated Birthday Card, Awkward Belated Birthday Card / No. 229-C
Box Set of 8 Cards Thank You For The Awesome Thing You Did/Said/Are by Emily McDowell
Box Set of 8 Cards Thank You For The Awesome Thing You Did/Said/Are by Emily McDowell
emilymcdowellstudio
$19.00 USD
Birthday Gift Tags, Set of 10 / Meerkats Birthday, Freaking Amazing Birthday
Birthday Gift Tags, Set of 10 / Meerkats Birthday, Freaking Amazing Birthday
Yay Flags Bear Birthday Card / No. 235-C
Yay Flags Bear Birthday Card / No. 235-C
I Love You, Are You Wearing That?  Love Card 225-C
I Love You, Are You Wearing That? Love Card 225-C
Oscar Wilde "Be Yourself" Inspirational Quote Card, Graduation Card 161-C
Oscar Wilde "Be Yourself" Inspirational Quote Card, Graduation Card 161-C
AAAAAAAHH Youre Having A Baby Congratulations Card / No. 159-C
AAAAAAAHH Youre Having A Baby Congratulations Card / No. 159-C
Checklist Mother's Day Card, Funny Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card Funny / No. 239-C
Checklist Mother's Day Card, Funny Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card Funny / No. 239-C
You Did It Congratulations Card 151-C
You Did It Congratulations Card 151-C
Celebrate Your Existence With Cake Birthday Card by Emily McDowell / No. 133-C
Celebrate Your Existence With Cake Birthday Card by Emily McDowell / No. 133-C
Awkward Love Card, Funny Love Card, Valentine Card by Emily McDowell Anniversary Card / No. 142-C
Awkward Love Card, Funny Love Card, Valentine Card by Emily McDowell Anniversary Card / No. 142-C
You're Like A Sister To Me Card/ Friendship Card No. 260-C
You're Like A Sister To Me Card/ Friendship Card No. 260-C
The Woman Who Does Not Require Validation Inspirational Quote 8" x 10" Print by Emily McDowell Hand Lettered Typography
The Woman Who Does Not Require Validation Inspirational Quote 8" x 10" Print by Emily McDowell Hand Lettered Typography
emilymcdowellstudio
$22.00 USD
I'm A Grown Ass Lady And I Do What I Want Tote Bag by Emily McDowell Large, Sturdy Grocery Tote
I'm A Grown Ass Lady And I Do What I Want Tote Bag by Emily McDowell Large, Sturdy Grocery Tote
emilymcdowellstudio
$20.00 USD
Large, Sturdy, Thick Canvas "Totally" Tote Bag by Emily McDowell
Large, Sturdy, Thick Canvas "Totally" Tote Bag by Emily McDowell
emilymcdowellstudio
$20.00 USD
There is Nobody Else I'd Rather Lie In Bed and Look At My Phone Next To 8"x10" Quote Poster Hand-Lettered Typography by Emily McDowell
There is Nobody Else I'd Rather Lie In Bed and Look At My Phone Next To 8"x10" Quote Poster Hand-Lettered Typography by Emily McDowell
emilymcdowellstudio
$22.00 USD
AAAAAAAHH Youre Getting Married Congratulations Card Wedding Card Engagement Card Emily McDowell / 158-C
AAAAAAAHH Youre Getting Married Congratulations Card Wedding Card Engagement Card Emily McDowell / 158-C
Sob At Your Wedding Card by Emily McDowell, Funny Wedding Card / 246-C
Sob At Your Wedding Card by Emily McDowell, Funny Wedding Card / 246-C
No Humanity In Perfection Card/ Friendship Card No. 259-C
No Humanity In Perfection Card/ Friendship Card No. 259-C
I'm A Grown-Ass Lady And I Do What I Want Card / No. 195-C
I'm A Grown-Ass Lady And I Do What I Want Card / No. 195-C
Little Women "Not Afraid of Storms" Inspirational Quote Card 160-C
Little Women "Not Afraid of Storms" Inspirational Quote Card 160-C
Definition of Divorce Card, Sympathy Card, Encouragement Card, Support Card / No. 231-C
Definition of Divorce Card, Sympathy Card, Encouragement Card, Support Card / No. 231-C
French Poodle Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 401-EP
French Poodle Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 401-EP
emilymcdowellstudio
$10.00 USD
Happiest of Birthdays Floral Birthday Card 134-C
Happiest of Birthdays Floral Birthday Card 134-C
Awkward Mother's Day Card, Funny Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card Funny 200-C
Awkward Mother's Day Card, Funny Mother's Day Card, Mother's Day Card Funny 200-C
I Don't Know Man Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 405-EP
I Don't Know Man Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 405-EP
emilymcdowellstudio
$10.00 USD
The Future Is Naps Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 403-EP
The Future Is Naps Enamel Pin by Emily McDowell / No. 403-EP
emilymcdowellstudio
$10.00 USD
Thank You For The Awesome Thing You Did/Said/Are Card / No. 211-C
Thank You For The Awesome Thing You Did/Said/Are Card / No. 211-C
The Secret Garden Delight Reigned Wedding Card Hand Lettered 148-C
The Secret Garden Delight Reigned Wedding Card Hand Lettered 148-C
Birthday Island - Birthday Card 137-C
Birthday Island - Birthday Card 137-C
Happy Birthday Mate Cat Card, Funny Cat Birthday Card / No. 140-C
Happy Birthday Mate Cat Card, Funny Cat Birthday Card / No. 140-C
If It Cant Be My Birthday Meerkat Card Funny Birthday Card / No. 135-C
If It Cant Be My Birthday Meerkat Card Funny Birthday Card / No. 135-C
TINY Love Cards, Set of 10: Today I Love You Because... by Emily McDowell / No. 194-T
TINY Love Cards, Set of 10: Today I Love You Because... by Emily McDowell / No. 194-T
Love Wins Card/ LGBT Wedding Card No. 274-C
Love Wins Card/ LGBT Wedding Card No. 274-C
Peter Pan "Always Be Waiting For Me" Quote Card 167-C
Peter Pan "Always Be Waiting For Me" Quote Card 167-C
Love The Sh*t out of You, Funny Love Card, Anniversary Card, Friendship Card, Valentine Card / No. 227-C
Love The Sh*t out of You, Funny Love Card, Anniversary Card, Friendship Card, Valentine Card / No. 227-C

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