IT started as a hobby, but now Emilia Apreda’s drawings decorate the homes of some of music’s biggest names.
The 17-year-old, from Whitburn, is following in her mum, Ursula’s footsteps to become a self-employed artist.
Little Mix and fellow X Factor winner James Arthur are among the list of fans that Emilia has racked up in a portfolio of work since she started pencilling the portraits. The stars even have her drawings hanging up in their homes.
Emilia, who left Sunderland’s St Anthony’s Sixth Form to concentrate on her art full-time, said: “I’ve never really had any formal art training. I did it in school, but when there’s 30 other people in the class, there’s not much one-on-one time.
“I got a lot of tips from my mam, and then the rest I just taught myself by picking up a pencil and practising.”
Emilia’s drawings have been bought by Little Mix member Perrie Edwards’s mum, Debbie Dufty, and she has also been commissioned to create a drawing for a London-based artist.
But mostly, she does it for fun, and she enjoys handing over her creations to her idols when she meets them at signings and concerts.
She said: “I know that Jade has got one of my drawings in her house, and I’ve just found out that James Arthur has as well.
“It’s just unreal. I can’t really describe how it feels, but it’s amazing.”
She added: “My mam is really proud of me as well. I always used to say that I would never be a self-employed artist, and I imagined working in graphic design or something like that instead.
“But I started getting loads of followers on Twitter and Facebook and loads of views on my YouTube channel, and it picked up, so I decided to give it a go.
“I’d love to be able to really make a career out of it.”
It takes Emilia anything between five and nine hours to create one of her drawings, using a photograph of one of her favourite stars as a guide.
She also creates time-lapse videos to show the creation coming together, and they’ve been viewed thousands of times on her YouTube channel.
She said: “As soon as I start a drawing, I can tell if it’s going to be a good one or a bad one.
“I sometimes take pictures at different stages to post to Twitter and Facebook to show people how they’re getting on, and when they get a good response, it’s amazing.
“I thought the time-lapse videos would be a fun way to show how I create a drawing and they’ve been really popular, so I’m going to keep doing more.”
Follow Emilia on Twitter @Emy_LMix, like her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/EmiliaApreda, or watch her time-lapse videos at www.youtube.com/user/EmyApr