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Words I Didn't Know I Needed

After spending nearly a decade working as an advertising art director, writer and creative director, Emily McDowell quit her full-time agency job at the beginning of 2011, in order to start making more things that weren’t ads. At the time, she had no idea what those things would be.

She took some wise person’s advice, and began to revisit the things she loved to do as a kid: drawing — specifically, lettering — and figuring out new ways to tell the truth. These illustrations are some of the results of that practice. They were created over the past two years, during which time Emily has built a new career out of drawing and writing things that help people feel happy and understood.

Emily’s work is commercial by intention, and designed to be relatable and accessible. She is inspired by the human condition, nature, folk art, geometry, tacos, and the crazy urban landscape of Los Angeles, where she lives. She will probably never be comfortable calling herself an artist. Emily’s line of greeting cards was launched in May 2013, and is now carried in over 150 stores in the US and Canada, including Urban Outfitters nationwide. A collection of tea towels and temporary tattoos is coming in October. For more information, please visit

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