Although she was born on an island, Emma Carascon grew up far from South Florida's tropical climes.
"I was born in a very, very, very small village in England, about an hour northwest of London," the 34-year-old, self-taught artist says. "There is literally one road in and out. No shops, no pubs, no traffic lights, but we do have a park and lots of cows, sheep, and horses."
Carascon moved to Florida in 2002 after earning a tourism degree from the University of Derby. She worked at Disney World and often drove to Miami and the Keys to relax with friends. "We would come for minivacations and loved being by the ocean and seeing the sun every day, something we definitely don't see much of in England," she laughs.
Like Tonito and Machado, Carascon is also inspired by South Florida's natural environment. Her deft, visual-pun-filled drawings fuse people, flora, and fauna. Carascon's work is on view at the pet shop and groomers Animal Crackers in downtown Miami, where a menagerie of bizarre characters includes a peg-legged old sea salt resting his wooden stump on an octopus' head and a snaggletoothed shark wearing prison stripes while shackled to a surfboard.
The artist also says she finds inspiration not only in Miami's natural beauty but also in her daily travels around town. "It can be things I see on the Metromover, to things that make my son laugh," she says. "I can be on the bus and see a handsome Brad Pitt look-alike, and even though I may acknowledge he's there, 99 percent of my journey time will be focused on the grumpy-looking guy sitting next to him wearing the "Free Hugs" T-shirt or the lady in her Sunday-best skirt suit with Dora the Explorer slippers on."
She fell in love with art-making as a toddler while drawing with a crayon on the wallpaper in her room. "I don't want to draw something I wouldn't want to have hanging on my wall. It has to stimulate my thought process and make me smile."
What's immediately striking about her drawings is their attention to detail and impeccable execution. No doubt a local art dealer will soon spy her nifty exhibit and display it in Wynwood.
But for now, Carascon is content wowing customers at the shop her husband owns while she struggles to strike a balance between her home life and a budding art career.
"I take a sketchbook with me everywhere. I never know when I will get the chance to draw or have inspiration," she says. "With two dogs, five cats, and a 3-year-old boy, time is a rare currency. The majority of work I do at night, when all the noise in the house stops."
To see Emma Carascon's work, visit Animal Crackers, 280 NE Second St., Miami, or call 305-374-8004.
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