The original carving and the “Come with Me“ print by Emily Cooper Creations (photo by Perry Holser)
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Emily Cooper Creations, Cincinnati

Cincinnati-based relief printmaker Emily Cooper draws inspiration from nature, people and books to craft pieces she hopes evoke a sense of serenity in those who view them.

Emily Cooper had always made art as a hobby — an independent class here, a meetup there — but it was her degree in American Sign Language that led her down her current creative path. One day, Cooper was asked to be a substitute interpreter for a high school art class teaching an introduction to block printing, and memories of working on a linoleum block-printing project in her own high school art class flooded back.

“I immediately went to my nearest art store and just grabbed the beginner tools,” she recalls. “I sat down, I did it and it wasn’t great. With time, I learned the medium.”

In 2023, she took her printmaking from a side quest to a business known as Emily Cooper Creations and began crafting more pieces influenced by nature, people-watching and books. 

“I love to read,” says Cooper, who works out of her Cincinnati studio. “Sometimes [there are] just visions from the pages that come into my mind whether or not that’s what the writer intended. I just have these vivid pictures of what they’re explaining in the pages, and sometimes that translates into my art.”

Emily Cooper of Cincinnati’s Emily Cooper Creations working on a carving (photo by Perry Holser)

To start her printing process, Cooper first envisions the mirror image of what she wants to create. She uses different-sized gouges to carve away the negative space of her design on a linoleum or wood block, leaving raised lines behind. Cooper then uses a hand roller to cover these areas with ink. Finally, she puts the block on her printmaking press and cranks the machine to transfer the inked design to paper.

Cooper prints some of her designs on sheet music and book pages as well as plain paper. She says she is particularly proud of a recent series depicting a dozen women in the water, whom she wrote individual stories about. Cooper adds that a “quiet admiration” for the world around her informs the designs she makes and that she aims for her pieces to evoke a sense of serenity in those who view them.

“I’m hoping that my art gives people that disconnect they need from the fast-paced world we’re living in,” Cooper says, “that the wonder of the great outdoors is brought inside people’s houses and up on their wall, so they look at it and can be reminded to go outside or just calm down a little bit.” 

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