Reader Profile: Emily Chu

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Emily Chu is an illustrator and visual artist, who was born in Beijing and grew up close to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Alberta. She contributes illustrations to magazines and commercial clients, and actively vends her cool and quirky art at markets. She shared her favourite reads with Glass Bookshop and how she turns to books, comics, and magazines to find inspiration for her latest projects.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
As an illustrator, books and reading help me be uniquely creative with new concepts and visuals in my illustration work. Although I rarely find leisure time to read, I find it to be the most helpful in my creative development. Usually I do not read fantasy books, but over the Christmas break, I read the children's book Howl's Moving Castle for a potential personal project. It was really enjoyable and charming, and it helped me visualize themes, moods, and characters in ways that are unfamiliar and new to me.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
My relationship with reading is mostly for work. As a commercial illustrator, most often I do not work from my own stories, but supply graphics for editorial, branding, and narrative. Sometimes, I am lucky to work for clients who supply me with really enjoyable things to read. For example, one of my most enjoyable projects to work on was with local literary magazine, Glass Buffalo. The stories and poetry were all so varied, and it was a privilege to translate these vivid narratives into graphics.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
I have not read many books for leisure in the past few years, but I've been reading a lot of comic books for research and exploration. In terms of comic books, I loved Craig Thompson's Habibi. Both the visuals and writing were so beautiful. I also love web comics and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. For me, I love it when a author is a creator and is able to express their stories in both words and visuals. As for novels, I've always had strong visuals when reading The Outsider by Albert Camus.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
As an illustrator, I love working with writers, publishers, and editors. It's a perfect partnership for collaboration. I've also dabbled in comics and have self-published a few graphic novels of my own. There's nothing better than to read words and appreciate illustrations on paper in the format of a book. Even better when it's with other creatives.

How do you find new books or writers?
I think it is pretty natural for me as an illustrator, and it is not forced. I sometimes see poetry or books that I am interested in on social media. Sometimes writers and editors reach out to me. I do not specifically need to look very far and hard for new books or writers. There's such a talented pool of creators in this city, and there is always new connections and books to be inspired by. I also go to the library every month or so for inspiration (and appreciation of the architecture!).

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
I love cozy bookstores. I think what makes a bookstore stand out is how it shares its love for books and its local writers. I love bookstores that help promote local writers with readings and events: those that support the local community and Canadian writers.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
I think it will be a strong hub promoting local and be a strong voice for Edmonton's creatives. There is a lot of talent here in the city, but it can be hard for the regular reader to find. I think it will also be a great addition to the community: a safe, inclusive place for all who love books and reading. I am really looking forward to it opening later this year!

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

Emily Chu
Matthew Stepanic