Emily Humphreys ’17 Infuses Art into Everyday Objects

With a brightly colored Hogwarts crest painted on the toe of her shoe, Emily Humphreys ’17 wandered around campus. The shoes were inspired by “Harry Potter” and featured images of Hedwig, Dobby, and the Golden Trio.

In addition to the “Harry Potter” shoes, Humphreys has painted phone cases, her primary canvas. She initially began painting phone cases as a way to combine self-expression with utility.
“A lot of your life is on your phone, but a lot of the time, technology feels, at least for me, very impersonal. So to have a painting that I spent a lot of time making kind of connected to that makes it more accessible for me,” said Humphreys.

To paint on a phone case, Humphreys first uses sandpaper to add texture to the case to ensure that the paint will stick. She then covers the case with a base-layer of white paint before sketching out her design. Finally, she paints the image on and covers everything with a few layers of Mod Podge, a hardening gel, to prevent the paint from chipping. While the actual painting process follows an order, choosing the image that she wants to paint is a long, challenging process for Humphreys. According to Humphreys, she usually prefers to portray animals.

“When I first started, I painted a phoenix then I painted a tree, and I noticed with the tree, the fact that it wasn’t an animal or a live being made it so that it wasn’t as engaging, at least for me. It was kind of more of a static piece. Since then, I’ve focused on animals, especially, and they’re usually looking at the viewer, and that eye contact, I think is engaging,” said Humphreys.

Humphreys began painting her Junior year at Andover after taking an art class.
“[After ninth grade], I realized that art was something that I really enjoyed doing, and painting was one outlet to do [art]” said Humphreys. “I wasn’t really into canvas painting, which I know a lot of people are, so I wanted to see if I could make something and have it be practical and have a finished, usable result.”

Recently, Humphreys began painting phone cases for friends as gifts.

“[The phone cases] take a lot of time, so it’s a big commitment to make one for someone else. I’ve also run into trouble because people keep switching phones, and I need to make sure that I have a phone case for the phone that they have. There are a lot of technical things that make it hard to paint for other people, but it’s something that I really enjoy doing, because it’s a way to show that you care about someone, spending so much time on something,” said Humphreys.