Jun 20, 2017 | By Sarah Owen
At WGSN we are in the business of fashion and creativity, and we love discovering new talent. So we loved stumbling across illustrator Emily and bookmarked her website immediately. While she was in London on a recent trip we caught up with her to ask how she crafted her career and developed such a unique style.
Tell us about a bit about your background.
I grew up in Minnesota, where I lived with my family in a beautiful valley, surrounded by woods, rivers and fields. My parents always encouraged the arts and I began to focus on it during my teenage years as a means for expressing teenage angst. I went to The School of the Museum Of Fine Arts and studied drawing, painting and mixed media jewellery. I have been working as an artist ever since.
You do some amazing and very distinctive calligraphy work. How have you developed your calligraphy style?
I started doing calligraphy in 2007 when I was managing a stationery design house called Mr. Boddington’s Studio. We would hire out calligraphers to quill the invitations and to address envelopes. I asked the proprietor of the studio if she would send jobs my way if I learned calligraphy. She not only said yes but that she’d sponsor my calligraphy class at School of Visual Arts. Over the years, I have kept my style more angular, raw and energetic, although I can tailor into a variety of scripts for different clients and projects. My style comes from my background as a punker in my early 20s. Ralph Steadman is my favorite penman and illustrator, along with the British penmen and illustrator Gerald Scarfe.
You do some incredible illustrations, where do you find your inspiration for these?
I find my inspiration in people and nature. I would love to draw every face on earth. I am also interested in social dynamics and love drawing groups of people. Colour is also a big inspiration. I especially love either monochromatic colour schemes or highly contrasting colour schemes.
You live and work in L.A. How does the city influence your work?
L.A. is full of different types of people and different kinds of natures, which influence my work. Between my home and my studio, I travel down Sunset Boulevard through Little Armenia, Thai Town, Silver Lake, and Echo Park until, I reach my studio in Chinatown. The ability to also easily access ocean, forests, mountains and deserts, let alone walk down the street to see multiple varieties of tropical plants, is quite something.
How much of a role does social media play – as a means of getting your work out there?
Instagram has been a helpful tool to show my work, but I have to say I just joined Snapchat and I am in love with it! I find the ephemeral quality of Snapchat to be very liberating. It has really reinvigorated my love for social media life, now there’s an expression… I like how Snapchat focuses on the little daily details and inspirations and how it tells more of a visceral story, and I love the cross pollination of video with emojis, fonts and the handwritten finger/pen tool. It is challenging me to use text and design elements within a moving picture, and the parameters of this task make creating these little art pieces quite exciting. I think it is an exhilarating new art form. We should have a Snapchat art exhibition. The down side is that I fear it is making our attention spans even shorter.
What’s your dream for the future?
My dream for the future is to continue expanding my abilities to work across multiple platforms in the art and design fields. This includes continuing with calligraphy, illustration, textile/surface design, beadwork and fine art. My dream for the future is to work more with others more, I love collaborating. I want to collaborate with a fashion designer to make textiles specifically for a specific collection. I also want to show my fine art in a gallery setting and be able to continue to travel. And teach! Teach and share and help people find their own personal expression. Perhaps I should dream for more hours in the day as well….
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