We are excited to debut a new mini series of collaborations between global artists and Recess. This month, we partnered with Emily Eisenhart to create 150 limited edition pickleball paddle sets.
Meet the Artist
Emily Eisenhart is a multidisciplinary artist and designer based in Austin, Texas. The daughter of an artist and anthropologist, she grew up with a paintbrush in one hand and a field book in the other. She is constantly exploring, and her work is heavily inspired by the textures, patterns, shapes, and colors around her. With a formal background in Cultural Anthropology, she is ever curious, weaving research into her inspiration for motif and color palette development. She approaches many of her projects as an ethnographer, diving deep into the culture of a place to create dynamic, story-driven artwork that is reflective of people and place. While she specializes in murals and painting, she believes that all the world’s a canvas.
Tell us about yourself. How did you become a full time artist?
I’ve been making art since I was a little girl, inspired by my artist mother who introduced me to drawing, painting, pottery, mosaics, and more. Years later in San Francisco, while working at the design firm IDEO where I was steeped in design principles and creative innovation, I started moonlighting as a muralist in my free time. After several years of creative exploration, developing a fine art practice, and a subsequent move to Austin, I decided to take the leap into full-time art. The early part of my independent artist career was propelled by several exciting clients who invited me to enliven their walls with large-scale mural artwork as they made their debuts in Austin.
What inspires your artwork?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. In my studio I have an overflowing collection of patterned rocks, driftwood, dried flowers, and unique objects that I have gathered throughout the years. Having grown up in an adventure-oriented family who hiked and explored everywhere from the coasts of the Pacific Northwest to the deserts of the American Southwest to the rainforests of Central America, I have always been inspired by the colors, shapes, and shadows that are found in nature. These organic movements and tones can certainly be found in my abstract patterns and color palettes. I also find inspiration in urban environments and among community. When creating artwork, I intently consider the environment in which it will live, thinking about how it will be viewed, experienced, and celebrated.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind the Recess x Emily Eisenhart pickleball paddles. How did you land on the colors, patterns, and shapes?
Being active – whether playing sports or spending time exploring outdoors – has always been important to me so working on these designs felt very natural. I wanted to create designs that reflected the dynamism of the game of pickleball in a bold yet playful and colorful way. The shapes found in the artwork – from the reverberating concentric circles that mimic the ball hitting the paddle, to the arc of the ball as it flies across the net, to the lines that evoke the movement of players as they navigate the court – were created through experiments in cut paper and collage. I find this process inspiring because of its grounding in the story of the sport, but also in the spontaneity that comes from whimsically cutting paper and piecing the elements together into a dynamic composition.
What is your favorite medium?
I am a very tactile and creatively explorative person who is constantly experimenting with new techniques. While painting is my most common medium, I often incorporate found objects and paper cutout collage into my practice. These often live as the early stages of my artwork as I work through the story behind a particular piece. Inspiration could come from a snapped photo of a cast shadow, an arranged series of branches and rocks in my studio, or patterns of paint chip cutouts from a prior mural job. While I will always paint, I am currently exploring more sculptural, experiential, and installation-based work this year.
What other artists inspire you?
I am perhaps most fascinated by ancient artists and their iconography, languages, and storytelling practices. Think: pictographs, petroglyphs, hieroglyphics, stone carvings, utilitarian objects that feel artful (decorated clay pots, colorful frescoes, ornate wooden panels), and the ways in which objects were constructed and visual stories were told. Simultaneously, I’m ever inspired by kid artists as they are completely uninhibited and creatively very explorative. I always find I leave with a fresh perspective when I have conversations with young budding artists. With regard to more well-known or contemporary artists, I am inspired by a very diverse mixture: from the sculpture of Brancusi to the installations of Robert Rauschenberg, the vibrant colors from Georgia O’Keeffe to the poetry of Mary Oliver, the bold and compelling visual storytelling of Shantell Martin to the climate change and planetary focus of Nancy Baker Cahill’s augmented reality work. Every creative person has a compelling story they are telling and medium they are exploring, and I believe inspiration can be gleaned from appreciating their techniques, approaches, and intents.
What is your current favorite color?
The faint green that is found in the gradient of a sunset. If you’ve never seen this before, I encourage you to look closely next time you’re gazing out at a setting sun – it’s almost always there, living quietly between the vibrant orange and the fading blue sky.
How do you overcome a creative block?
Both inspiration and creative blocks can come at any moment, so my approach is to keep making and experimenting. This keeps my mind and my hands (my two greatest creative tools) fresh. Changing environments and giving myself time to play with materials rather than get caught up in deadlines also helps. And, if I’m truly stuck, I will go outside – for a hike, or even just to take a deep breath of fresh air and watch the trees blow in the wind. Inspiration is everywhere.