Emily was always going to be an artist when she grew up. Now at the young age of 22, the Sunshine Coast resident is well on her way to becoming a successful artist and cartoonist.
Throughout her schooling years, it was through visual art that Emily found a way to relax, cope with the challenges of her disability and express what she was thinking and feeling when words were sometimes just not enough.
“I just love how you just get to have this creative freedom and just draw whatever you want. Sometimes drawing and listening to music just kind of relaxes me and just takes my mind off things a lot,” Emily said.
It wasn’t long after Emily finished school that the COVID pandemic began and she was no longer able to attend group art sessions. Along with her highly supportive family, Emily was assisted by the Carers Queensland NDIS LAC Partner in the Community Program to utilise her NDIS plan and find the support needed to achieve her goals.
“I think my friends and family helped me along the way. I managed to stay positive… to try to stay positive with my artwork, and just try to get my work out there,” Emily said.
“When I left school, I didn't quite know where I was going next. I didn't quite have many classes or anything else after school. But I had faith we'll find something. And me and my dad and my mum, we kept looking, tried to find some opportunities, and we ended up finding (art teacher) Lindy. I don't think I would be here talking to you if it wasn't for Lindy helping me with my artwork.”
For young adults like Emily, leaving high school can be a time of searching and questioning as they try to find and follow their dreams. It can be a confusing time for some as they try to find their post-school pathway.
“Just try to find your own path. It could start out with something small, like a small job. And maybe if you find opportunity, your path will grow larger. You just have to try to find your passion,” Emily advised.
“I believe that when you leave school, you'll somehow find a way. Find your own path. It might take a while. It might take days, months, maybe. Maybe a year or two. But you'll be able to find a way through this rocky road called life.”
Emily’s mother Bonnie is proud of her daughter’s achievements in visual art, recognising her talent and the personal benefits of painting and drawing from an early age.
“Emily's been drawing since before she could talk. She was always just fascinated with art. She's always been very open about it, like, ‘I want to be a cartoonist, I want to do this, I want to do that’, you know… and she's always had that absolute raw talent for art. Emily is a natural artist who can just look at something and just draw it. It's amazing,” Bonnie said.
Bonnie advises other parents of children seeking support to keep searching for people who best suit the style and personality of their child. For Emily’s family, finding the right support was not always easy.
“We went through a few different programs that just weren't right for Emily, but just keep looking,” she said.
”I think looking at all your different options, not just sticking with one, but going, okay, this doesn't quite fit, we're going to move on because at the end of the day, it's about them and it's about what they want to achieve.”
For many, visual art has several purposes such as an expression of ideas and emotions, a form of joy and relaxation, as well as a way of communicating.
It is through her paintings and drawings that Emily can share her emotions and experiences with her family and the public, visually capturing her internal world.
“When Emily drew the picture of the beehive in her brain that was like, ‘wow’, it's amazing,” Bonnie said.
“You could really understand what she was going through with her OCD. She was saying, you know, it's the bees in my head. And I have to get them out. So that was really good representation of what she was feeling during that time. And it's helped me understand what she goes through.”
“Another time, Emily couldn't stop shaking after being on these medications and drew silhouettes of a cat and the lines are all shaky – she calls it her Shaky Cat. Whenever she's feeling overwhelmed or anxious, she just she goes up to the office at the house and just grabs out paper and she'll just sit there for hours and just draw and just get everything out onto the paper.”
Through hard work and talent, Emily has created her own business (Legendary Blue Pegasus), exhibited her work in galleries and sold her work online to the public. As a young adult, Emily’s drive, focus and ambition are inspirational as she continues to further her career as a successful artist and cartoonist.
“We are so proud. But you know her dad, my husband, he's a very, very good artist as well, so, yeah, he's been supporting her through all of it. And he can support her in a way that I can't. You know, when I was 22, I didn't know what I was going to do with my life… but Emily knows exactly what she wants to do, and she's well on her way to getting there,” Bonnie said.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, email@example.com, or sign up for our LAC Connect app here.