The Beautiful Beadwork of Emily J. Snyder

Emily J. Snyder is very definitely well on her way to local-girl-done-good status. The Rochester, Minnesota, native graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University in Boston in 2007 before moving to New York, where she studied calligraphy at the Society of Scribes–a trade she stumbled upon while managing the renowned stationery design house Mr. Boddington’s Studio. Then in 2008, she launched Queen Quills Calligraphy, and has since established an intriguing client based that includes the likes of Molly Sims, Phoebe Cates, Philip Glass and Stephen Colbert. After returning to Minneapolis for a few years, she embarked to Los Angeles in 2012, where she lives and works today. 

The move to the West Coast prompted Snyder to return to one of her first loves: jewelry design and beadwork, inspired by the organic, colorful shapes of tropical and oceanic fauna and flora. Her most recent coup: beading a line of shoes for in-demand luxury shoe designer Jerome C. Rousseau, which landed her an online feature in Elle Magazine earlier this week. Each of the “incredible beaded landscapes reminiscent of underwater worlds,” as Rousseau puts it, include more than 7,000 hand-appliqued beads including coral, freshwater pearls, and vintage Czech crystal. 

I spoke with Snyder over the phone while she is in town to visit family for the week, about her buzz-making Rousseau collaboration, her calligraphy background, and how growing up in Minnesota has influenced her designs.

Emily J. Snyder wearing her own jewelry designs. Photo by Melisss Valladares from Modern Luxury Brides California

So, what brings you to town?

I’m just visiting my parents and my brother. It’s so nice to come visit, especially during the summer.

What prompted the move to L.A.?

I had moved back here after living in New York. I was really hoping that I’d want to stay. I’d been here for three years, and I guess I just felt the pull of exploring Los Angeles, and I started spending some time out there. I started going out there for the winters initially, and after going out there for a few winters I really fell in love with it. I’ve been out there for two and a half year now.

When you were living in Minneapolis, you were known for your calligraphy work. What prompted the addition of beadwork?

When I was first out there, I met a woman, Carly Jo Morgan, who was running a gallery, and has a jewelry line called All for the Mountain. She was curating a woman’s textile art show, and she asked if I had done any textile work. I had always wanted to make a large-scale beaded piece. I had been making jewelry since I was a little girl. So I made this piece specifically for the art show. That launched the next phase of my career. It was cool to have that assignment, that specific goal.

How did you begin collaborating with Jerome Rousseau?

I contacted him because i’ve always loved shoes, and I’d been exploring different career avenues since I moved to California. I sent him a package of my calligraphy and illustrations of his shoes and wrote him a letter. He loved my calligraphy so much that he wanted to meet me. When I met him, I wore the large-scale beaded piece I mentioned earlier, and he loved that, and he immediately started draping the beaded peice on some of the shoes he had just gotten from Italy. The color palette of his resort line that season just happened to match the beadwork I was wearing. We just fell in love with each other and started this collaboration within ten minutes of meeting each other. And then I had to create the shoes with him, I think it was a week, because he was previewing his resort line in New York a week later. It was really intense. I spent pretty much a week straight, making them all day and all night. I ran them down to him at three in the morning the night he hed to leave for the airport, it was really crazy. We’re working on another pair that’s coming out with the release of a major motion picture this year. We got Swarovski to sponsor the next pair, so it will be all Swarovski elements. 

The two crafts–calligraphy and beadwork–seem pretty different on the surface. Are there any similarities? 

They’re both very tedious. (laughs) They both are very detail oriented and require a lot of siting for long periods of time focusing on these teeny thigns. when I do calligraphy work, i’m doign batches of envelopes for events, I just did a job where I calligraphed 220 envelopes. It’s a lot of doing a lot of the same thing, a repetitive thing. And same with the beading. One thing I like about those art forms is they’re mobile, and it’s allowed me to travel. When I used to spend winters in California when I’m out there, I can work wherever I am.

What inspires your designs? Do you think growing up in Minnesota influenced your work in any way?

My beadwork is really inspired by the natural world. I think growing up in Minnesota definitely instilled an appreciation for the outdoors, and I think because the growing season here is so limited, it accentuates how much you relish the flora and fauna that grows in the spring, summer, and fall. My calligraphy is very immediate, it just comes out of me. It’s definitely something I’ve been interested in my whole life. I studied in New York, and it was through my work there that I discovered calligraphy could be a career. I took a class in Manhattan; it was a bunch of 60 year old women and me. I started with traditional styles, and expanded from there.

Do you have any future collaborations in store?

I’m doing a collaboration right now with my boyfriend, Brent Pearson, who makes glasses called Future Eyes, we created a monocle together that we just released. And we have some more products that we’re making together under the Future Eyes umbrella. 

Where can people purchase your designs?

I launched my line at a design show last month, and just got my line sheet together, so I’m now in the process of getting retailers. So currently, just at my website.

Emily J. Snyder’s work can be viewed and purchased at See below for more of her jewelry, calligraphy, and original paintings.

BlueGreenCrystal Trio Pendant, $300,

PinkieGrayPearlie Pendant Necklace, $200,

EJS Future Eye Monocle, $30,

YellowGrayPearlie Pendant, $250,

A Woman Wears Her Tears Like Jewels, $120,

“Two Ladies in Hats” original painting by Emily J. Snyder

Beaded hand piece by Emily J. Snyder

Beaded head piece by Emily J. Snyder

Beaded bracelet by Emily J. Snyder

Original “Stiletto” painting by Emily J. Snyder

[All images courtesy unless otherwise noted]

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