If you’ve been following me on Instagram for any amount of time you know I am a HUGE fan of the account @hiddenheartbreak. The way the artist captures the feelings, innermost thoughts, and things I didn’t even realize I felt into illustrations is incredible. Her relatable images always makes me breathe a sigh of relief knowing I’m not alone in my thoughts and feelings, and what a gift that is!
I had the honor of interviewing Emma on why she started Hidden Heartbreak, her advice for someone going through a break up, the red flags she looks out for, and a lot more you probably didn’t know about her. Oh! And if you’re as big of a fan as me you should know that she’s releasing her first book titled Hidden Heartbreak which comes out this January but you can order a copy now on Amazon at this link.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
You can call me Emma Lee –I’m the illustrator behind @hiddenheartbreak. I’m an INFJ, probably the most impatient person you’ll ever meet, and a fierce marshmallow addict.
What inspired you to start Hidden Heartbreak?
I’ve always been someone who just feels things very intensely, even as a young child. I had some residual feelings leftover from a heartbreak I had experienced and wanted an outlet to express and explore them. Drawing has always been a big part of my life (as have many other creative outlets) and it just felt like the right way to express myself at that time.
One thing I’m always SO amazed about you is your ability to put into an illustration thoughts I have that I can’t even put into words, what is your process for creating your illustrations?
Ahh, thank you so much! Honestly, a lot of my ideas come to me at weird times, so I keep a note in my iphone that I’m just constantly adding to. I find irony, and contradictions in general really fascinating, so that’s something I’m always paying attention to. These days I get a lot of ideas just from talking with friends, from movies, even from lyrics in a song. I usually try to sit down and do 2-3 drawings at a time once I have a few good ideas rolling around. I’ve also found that my art turns out much better if I draw soon after I’ve thought of the idea or felt the feeling, while it’s still fresh. Sometimes I start with a pen on paper and then transition to photoshop, or sometimes I just do the whole thing on the computer.
Although I’ve been through many there was one break up in particular that sparked me to start Break Up Bestie- was there a particular one that inspired you to start Hidden Heartbreak?
It wasn’t so much an official breakup as a realization about someone I cared for deeply. We all have people who we feel got away from us, that we’re convinced we’ll always love, and this particular person filled that role for me. I always thought we felt the same way about each other, but when I realized that I didn’t hold the same magic for him that he held for me, I felt pretty shattered. These feelings were really long lasting, so I started HH as a way to explore them.
I’m sure these illustrations are extremely therapeutic. What are some other ways that you practice growth and self care?
They are! I have a many forms of self care, and I think drawing has actually helped me to be more deliberate about all of them. I love cooking and trying new recipes. I love running – I used to run marathons but from now on I’m sticking to half marathons, which aren’t as time-intensive! I love going for walks and taking photos along the way. I’m currently learning to play guitar, which is a very slow process, but I enjoy it and I try to keep it low pressure so it doesn’t become a chore.
Another thing I love about your illustrations is that you talk about feelings that I think so many people are ashamed to feel. I hear so many people saying “I shouldn’t feel this way” or they ignore their feelings altogether. Is this something you ever struggled with or have you always been open about feelings?
This is perhaps the one thing I feel most strongly about when it comes to art and emotions. I have always been very open with my feelings, which people used to tell me was detrimental at times, or just not appropriate. I was called too sensitive all the time, I was ashamed of how much I cried as a kid and teen, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not change that part of me. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t. I am certainly no expert, but what I do know is that any time I “over-express” myself, I never regret it, but when I hold things in it always comes back in a more painful way later on. Being honest with yourself (and others) about your feelings is so liberating and, I’m convinced, really helps to get over those feelings in a healthier way. How can you move past something if you deny that it exists?
One thing I try to instill with my readers is that break ups and really anything “bad” that happens to us are always a blessing in disguise in one form or another. What’s a big blessing in disguise that you’ve had in your life?
Oh my gosh, I totally agree. This whole process with HH has brought me SO many blessings. I’ve met some amazing, true friends through my account, some of whom I speak with every single day. I never would have had the chance to bring them into my life had this not happened to me. I somehow have a book coming out, though I’m still pinching myself about that one. Most importantly, though, I have grown and changed so much and become so much more confident in myself through this experience.
Many of your illustrations are about ignoring red flags in relationships, what do you think are the biggest red flags to keep an eye out for?
Lack of openness is my number one red flag. If I don’t feel like someone can be open with me, or worse, they make me feel like I can’t be open with them, that’s a deal breaker. I also need a partner who appreciates creativity, even if they themselves aren’t creative, so not having that trait would be a sign to me that we aren’t compatible.
I am so excited about your book and feel so lucky I have one on my coffee table now. I’m in love with it, especially that I’m able to interact and do my own writing in it. What inspired you to come out with a book?
Thank you so so much! I really had no plans to make a book; I was approached by a few agents about it through my IG and that kind of put the idea in my head. I enjoy taking on new challenges and thought it would be fun and rewarding. I’m glad I did it!
What’s one piece of advice you would give someone going through a break up?
Be honest with yourself! As I said before, being real about your feelings is a form of healing. If you’re hurting, say so. Tell someone you trust. Tell yourself it’s okay to feel that way. It may feel awful at first, but in my experience, it always gets worse before it can get better.
Make it easy for yourself: No need to go out and buy a fancy gratitude journal. Do it in a way that makes sense with your life. If you like writing, then jot down your list in the journal you already use. Do you not like to write? Type up a note in your phone and do it there. No need to go out of your way to do something that already feels weird.
Start small: Don’t overwhelm yourself with needing to write 10 or more things. Start with 3 and then work your way up. Set a goal for yourself that’s super easy to hit so you don’t get discouraged.
Do it whenever you can but I recommend doing it at night: That way you can reflect on your day and focus on what went well. What you may notice start to happen is you’ll be on the lookout during your day for things to write on your list at night.
You can write down ANYTHING!It can be big, broad things like I’m grateful I have a roof over my head, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful I have food to eat. Or it can be super specific to your day. I’m grateful for that amazing cup of coffee I had today, I’m grateful for the text my best friend sent me. There’s no wrong answer to write down.
Can’t think of anything you’re grateful for? That’s impossible. Not but seriously, every single person has something to be grateful for. If you’re reading this blog post that means you have reliable electricity, you have a computer or a smart phone, you probably have food to eat, and a roof over your head. You have eyes that can see, you have hands that work. That’s a whole lot to be grateful for.