Fort Collins Etsy artist Emma St.Aubin draws local buildings

Gracie Ludens

a girl holds up two drawings
Emma Saint Aubin holds up two of her drawings. She sells her pieces on her Etsy shop, Saint Aubin Ink. Many of her pieces feature buildings from Fort Collins. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

A bike accident involving 18 stitches, rendering the victim temporarily immobile, generally does not lead to a happy story.

For Emma St.Aubin, who graduated from Colorado State University in 2016 with a master’s degree in public health, that bike accident presented her with an opportunity to start drawing. St.Aubin is the owner of Etsy shop Saint Aubin Ink where she sells hand-drawn replicas of buildings in the Fort Collins community.

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“I’ve been drawing my whole life,” St.Aubin said. “My mom’s an artist my dad’s an architect, so I always joke it’s a great combination of the two.”

Because of the bike crash that left St.Aubin with stitches in her leg, she said she could not go anywhere on Memorial Day and instead started drawing. Her friends were excited about a drawing of her house that she posted on Instagram, and they soon requested drawings of their own homes. She started her Etsy shop the last weekend of May.

Realizing that people liked these hand-drawn buildings that St.Aubin was creating, she began to expand her portfolio by drawing some of her favorite buildings around Fort Collins. St.Aubin said that one of her most popular drawings is a compilation of breakfast locations around town.

“The architecture here is incredible,” St.Aubin said. “Every single building has a story behind it.”

The stories these buildings hold also make them a part of the community, St.Aubin said. She hopes to draw the unique buildings in Fort Collins and build a community around the drawing.

“I love how passionate she is about it,” said Carmelo Mannino, St.Aubin’s fiancé and a CSU alum. “She sits down every night and she just draws, and she loves it.”

Along with her appreciating for intriguing architecture, St.Aubin said that generally her drawings show her favorite places in Fort Collins.

“It’s a fun way to share and express my favorite parts of town,” St.Aubin said.

Mannino said that St.Aubin does research prior to each drawing. They bike to the locations and take photos from several angles, or use Google Maps to get the full picture of each building.

“She wants to make sure she gets all the detail,” Mannino said.

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Using art as a form of self-expression has become more prominent in St.Aubin’s life since getting engaged. In the past, she said she used to journal about the details of her life, but that it was easy to keep her writing to herself.

“I started drawing as a different means of an outlet,” St.Aubin said. “Instead of writing things and keeping them to myself, I wanted to share this new shared life with my fiancé and my dog.”

Saint Aubin Ink began as Me You & Brew. This name was representative of St.Aubin’s new life with Mannino and their dog, Brewster. After deciding the name sounded too much like a coffee shop, she changed it to the current name, Saint Aubin Ink.

While St.Aubin used to only use ink for her drawings, she has since started drawing with pencil to make fixing mistakes easier, then goes over the lines with ink. Once they are completed, she scans the drawings and shrinks them from their original size. St.Aubin said she prints the drawings at home to give them the authentic hand- and locally-made feel.

“We would love to encourage local artists,” said Susie Wilmer, owner of Old Firehouse Books.

St.Aubin’s prints are sold online at Etsy.com, as well as at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House and Old Firehouse Books. St.Aubin said she is participating in one or two Makers Markets in December, one of which will take place Dec. 9 at the Bean Cycle.

Beth Kopp, operations manager at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, was the first person to agree to selling St.Aubin’s drawings at a Fort Collins business.

“Her art prints and cards make wonderful gifts and keepsakes for tourists, visitors, and people that love Fort Collins,” Kopp wrote in an email. “Folks are always looking for something unique to our town to purchase and Emma’s art is perfect for that.”

What began with a painful bike crash for St.Aubin has since become a creative outlet that turned into an Etsy shop.

“It’s really fun,” St.Aubin said. “Dreams are coming true.”

About Saint Aubin Ink:

  • Open since the last weekend of May
  • Saint Aubin Ink was originally called Me You and Brew, referring to St.Aubin, Mannino and their dog Brewster
  • Her art is also sold at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, Old Firehouse Books and Etsy.com
  • Aubin takes custom requests

Collegian Reporter Gracie Ludens can be reached online at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @gracieludens.