Emma Mckee: The Cross-Stitch Gawd

What’s going on go ahead and introduce yourself to the people

Hello everyone, my name is Emma Mckee. By night I do one of a kind cross stitch pieces for creatives in Chicago and by day I work at Groupon on the live events team.

How was life growing up for you?

Life was cool. My mom is a British Opera singer and my Dad is a minister, so I had a typical preachers kid life. Growing up in school I was a big overachiever, I loved to learn and intake new knowledge. I spent a lot of time reading books.

When did you begin to witness your creative talents?

I’ve been creative my whole entire life. I first started singing in choirs and bands etc -but over the course of time I ended up having terrible stage freight and stopped singing in public. As I look back now, when I first started cross-stitching I didn’t think of it as a creative talent. 

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You’ve lived in many different cities now, when and what caused you to make the move to Chicago?

I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2011. I was living in Canada for 8 years working at a recording studio and then one day a visa issue forced me to move away. While I began thinking of cities to move to, I quickly scratched off LA and New York. Chicago was next on the list and seemed the most fitting for me. The funny thing about Chicago is, when I was a kid living in St. Louis my Father and I would take the Amtrak to Chicago on weekends to visit the Shedd Aquarium. I tell people I moved to Chicago because they have a great collection of fish.

When did you begin to get into Cross-Stitching?

The first ever piece I created was in 2014 for my Mom for Christmas. I appreciate Art so much and just wanted to make Art by people I liked. The third piece I ended up making, which was my first big piece was on a sweater for JC Rivera. After JC Rivera, a slew of other people, including folks like Hebru Brantley -reached out to me, so I knew I was on to something.10487426_10103168576050272_2052152311986785346_n

(Jc Rivera)

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(Hebru Brantley)

In these 3 years now, what has been the most meaningful piece you’ve created?

The most meaningful piece I’ve made was the Carlos the lion jacket Chance wore for his Magnificent Coloring World Tour. I remember being in the crowd for his Chicago show with my friends Zoe Rain & Garret Koehler and I saw Chance come out with my jacket and I just began bawling. That moment was so surreal to me because that show was Chances love letter to the City and he put me on his back. 

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When was the first time you ever got to meet Chance?

The first time I ever saw Chance was in a Cafeteria in Pilsen years back. Kevin Coval reached out to me to come see Chance perform. Throughout the years now I’ve probably seen Chance perform near 35 times. I didn’t end up meeting Chance until a few years later outside of one of his Reggie’s show. 

As a designer yourself, who are some of your other favorite designers in the city?

I have to start off with the most obvious… Joefreshgoods, that’s my dude. I’m also a big fan of Chelsea Carter she runs the brand Alex Carter. Olivia Goodman, McKenzie Thompson, Tesha Brady (Eugene Taylor Brand) and Sheila Rashid are some of my other favorite designers as well. 

One thing that I enjoy about you is that you actually don’t sell your artwork/designs. Talk about the reasoning behind that

I don’t sell these pieces because I make my work for people I’m truly a fan of. I prefer trading art for art and not money. 

What were you feeling when you saw Chance wear your design in Billboard magazine?

I started bawling as soon as I saw that. It was crazy to me because I love what Chance is doing so much and he was so excited to wear something that I made for him. He didn’t even ask me to make that piece for him so it’s kind of wild that it worked out.

You’ve been vocal on how Chicago is the best city. How big of an influence has Chicago had on you and your career?

Chicago has influenced my whole personality and given me so much. Who knows where I would be or what I would be doing if I wasn’t in Chicago. I’ve witnessed my work ethic improve tremendously since moving here. 

2016 was one of the best years for you. With 2017 just starting, where do you see yourself by the end of 2017?

I have a bunch of projects I’d like to have done, but I don’t really know. This whole journey has been such a wild ride. The things that keep happening at every turn are so surprising to me, so new, and outside the scope of my imagination. The goals I set for 2017 were accomplished in the final week of 2016 and that was so wild to me. Now I’m just thinking, what’s next? 

Who are three artists you would love to design for?

I would love to have designed for Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, and Prince. 

When it’s all said and done how do you want to be remembered?

I want people to remember me as someone who made dope creative work that stuck with them throughout time. I would be happy with being an anecdotal footnote in this moment of time in Chicago and fashion in general.  


Written by: Nicholas Rud

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