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5Q4: Emilie Watten

As a writer/actor dad who helped raise two sons who became one of each, my heart is especially warmed and wiggled to witness the work of a wow photographer whose mom was her mentor. Emilie Watten went to Encinal High School and, despite never actually having been a student of mine, turned out mighty cool anyway. Good job Mom Jan. I should also reveal that my fandom for Emilie is enhanced by our sharing an appreciation for tattoos and coffee, though we squabble over who is stalking whom. Below are her answers to 5Q4: Emilie Watten, along with some of her art, so taking my bow, I offer both to you, dear readers.

Alameda Post - Emilie Watten stands in a gallery
Emilie Watten. Photo courtesy Emilie Watten.
At what moment did you discover that you wanted to be an artist?

Art has been an integral part of my life since I came into this world. Both of my parents are artists, so it was a no brainer when I realized I wanted to pursue my artistic passions. But if I had to place a specific moment in time, it would probably be freshman year of high school, when I took ceramics as my art class. I loved the tactile nature of ceramics and couldn’t get enough. That morphed when I was in college because I started taking my photography much more seriously and that’s how I’ve gotten to where I am now as an artist.

Who was the most influential person who helped you achieve your goal?

My mom was definitely the most influential person for me. She got me my first film camera, a Nikon FE2, my tried-and-true camera that I still use. She’s also a photographer so it’s great having her in my artistic corner.

Alameda Post - a artistic photo looking up through buildings
Westbourne Grove by Emilie Watten. Film capture, pigment print. Artwork courtesy Rhythmix Cultural Works.
Tell us about the best—or a best—experience you had as an artist?

The best experience I’ve had as an artist was when I was in the “Mother Tree” exhibition at the Rhythmix K-Gallery. It was the first time I had my photos on display and to top it off I was showing work with my mom, which was so fun.

Conversely, tell us about a pretty bad experience?

Arguably the worst experience I’ve had as an artist is getting fresh scans back and having them be completely blank, the most heartbreaking feeling as a photographer.

Any advice to folks out there hoping to pursue a life in the arts?

Just go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You get a new hobby out of it and potentially a new way to express your creative side? If you’ve been considering it, just go for it.

Gene Kahane is the founder of the Foodbank Players, a lifelong teacher, and former Poet Laureate for the City of Alameda. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at

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