Hilary making a papier-mâché fox.

Hilary was raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in a highly creative family. She grew up in an old house with a sprawling expanse of yard, great big gardens, a spooky marsh, and a veritable circus of animals. At one point or another, her family has had dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs,
gerbils, pheasant, quail, chickens, chameleons, a crayfish, a pegasus, a parakeet, and a goat.

They saw eye to eye on everything!

Her parents encouraged all of her artistic pursuits and odd little personality quirks, so Hilary spent her childhood drawing pictures (of pets real and imagined), running barefoot through the dunes, making masks, climbing trees, building fairy houses in fields, building forts in the marsh, and writing and illustrating her own stories and plays. In middle school, she won a kiwi-carving contest at her local grocery store. Several years later, she was awarded a summer scholarship to the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill for her
three-dimensional piece titled “The Herring Run,” in which she covered dead herring in paint and
stamped them onto paper.

Her name is Foxy. 🙂


Hilary also illustrated the label for Green Rabbit Ale!

Hilary earned a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College, with a
concentration in Children’s Writing and
Illustration. From 2002–2012, she managed The Spirit of ’76 Bookstore & Card Shop in Marblehead, MA.

From 2013-2019 she was the Assistant Director of Summer Art Barn, an art camp for kids in grades 2-8 founded by Marion Abrams. Hilary and Marion wrote a book of art projects for kids based on
Summer Art Barn called Art Sparks: Draw, Paint, Make, and Get Creative with 53 Amazing Projects! (Storey Publishing,
September 2019).


Hilary is a proud Art-o-Mat artist, has been on Animal Planet and NPR, is a card-carrying member of the Hedgehog Welfare Society, and is the great granddaughter of Admiral Nimitz. To read more about her creative process and the business of being an artist, you can read her interview with the cultural journal The Orris.

In January of 2024 Hilary moved to the North Island of New Zealand. You can follow her adventures around New Zealand here!

How to contact Hilary
email: [email protected]
Etsy: etsy.com/hilaryemersonlay
Facebook: facebook.com/hilaryemersonlayart