Music has always been a source of inspiration for millions around the world and for Emily Becker, having discovered alternative music as a teenager, it has helped inspire her to create the Pop Punk Coloring Book, now into its second volume, featuring some of her favourite bands and artists including Blink 182 and All Time Low. ThisIsTheLatest chatted with Emily to find out more about her artistic background, her thoughts on mindfulness and plans for volume 3.
TITL: Please introduce yourself.
Emily Becker: Hi, my name is Emily Becker and I’m the creator and illustrator of the Pop Punk Coloring Book, volumes 1 and 2.
TITL: Where did your idea for BeckerBelieveIt Media come from?
EB: I think in high school I really wanted to have my own business cards, so I kept creating new companies and printing out business cards at school; fortunately for me, my teachers were incredibly lenient when it came to my business schemes! After realizing how many different areas I wanted to encompass in my life, art, photography, writing, and eventually video, I decided to put them all under one umbrella as BeckerBelieveIt Media.
TITL: You’ve clearly got a passion for art, and studied fine art at NYU, but what ultimately made you decide to use your talents to create these books?
EB: I was honestly a little dissatisfied with the limits of fine arts – I had gotten really into comic books and illustration and was told several times that those weren’t technically “fine arts,” I actually did a portrait of Frank Iero as a final project in an oil painting class just as an act of sheer frustration. I wanted to take the music-related doodles that were never able to make it out of my sketchbook and turn them into something I could share. And my artistic abilities actually improved as I did this – there’s a clear difference in my skill level between the first and second book.
TITL: It has been argued that art, in its many forms, is something that more of the older generations are interested in. To what extent, if any, do you believe that to be true and how would you say artists such as yourself are working at changing such perceptions?
EB: I think that as soon as something can be consumed by the masses, there’s a sense of elitism that begins to take hold of the community. Graphic design, cartoons, these are still artforms, but since they can now be easily accessed by anyone, it’s easy to dismiss it as not being highbrow enough to count as “art.” I think maybe this generation doesn’t realize how much art we actually consume on a daily basis just by going about our day-to-day lives, and this is where we get the idea that “art,” at least in its traditional connotation, isn’t as important as it once was.
TITL: Colouring is a major staple of mindfulness techniques these days. Was that something you had in mind during the creative process or something that just sprung up at the same time?
EB: I hate admitting this, but I am terrible with mindfulness practices. I have an incredibly short attention span so things like meditation and those really gorgeous mandala coloring books aren’t much on my radar. The Pop Punk Coloring Book was more of a way for me to produce something that others could enjoy with the skill set that I already had; I tend to think of it as fun first and psychologically beneficial maybe third or fourth.
TITL: What is it about the alternative music scene that led you to put bands who are a part of it very much at the forefront of what you do? Did you grow up listening to such bands and artists?
EB: I started listening to alternative music when I was around 16 – up until then I hadn’t really paid attention to music because I was a “visual arts kids”. I saw a My Chemical Romance video on MTV one day, and the graphic power and art direction had me so captivated that I fell down a hole of their videos, which turned into an obsession with the songs they were made to represent.
TITL: Your colouring books have been praised by both Rock Sound and Alternative Press, but who/which outlet would you most love to see compliment your work? Have any of the bands and artists you’ve featured said anything about it?
EB: I think Alt Press really was the ultimate for me, because that was the magazine that introduced me to so many of the bands that are featured in the books. Buzzfeed UK mentioned the first book in a listicle about two years ago and I literally walked out of a drawing class so I could call my mother. As far as bands go, Patent Pending have taken notice of the book, and they’re super supportive; Joe’s wife Dana was one of the first people to order a copy of the second book.
TITL: The second edition features the likes of Blink 182, All Time Low and Simple Plan among others. Have you already started thinking about who you might include in a third edition?
EB: I’m actually wondering if I’ll have to rename the book for the next volume! Volume Two included a lot of bands that aren’t traditionally considered pop punk, and I’d like to include some heavier bands like Of Mice & Men and Bring Me The Horizon.
TITL: Finally then, what advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a creative path such as yours? Is there anything you were once told that you still reflect on today?
EB: My high school history teacher once told me that “good enough” is more important than perfect. I look back on some of my old art, whether the coloring book or even portfolio submissions from when I applied to art school, and I think, “what was I doing, how did I think that was good?” But they weren’t meant to be perfect pieces of art, they were just supposed to be good enough to make people happy and teach me how to do better next time. I think if I had been striving for objective perfection the first book wouldn’t even be out yet – I’d rather create multiple works that people can enjoy over the span of my career than have one perfect work of art when I retire.
You can find out more about Emily and BeckerBelieveIt Media by visiting her website, liking her page on Facebook or following her on Twitter. The Pop Punk Coloring Book Volume 2 is available now in both physical and digital editions.