1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hi! I’m Emily, a print designer born and raised in Warwickshire but now living and learning in Leeds. I’ve been somewhat creative from an early age – I remember being banned from using glitter after making too much mess during ‘arts and crafts’ sessions, and arguing with my sisters about whose turn it was to use Microsoft Paint. I have a twin sister who is an illustrator and I have fond memories of us ‘collaborating’ on some very imaginative drawings throughout our childhood. I moved to Leeds two years ago for University, and it has become my second home; I love the friendly faces and the (now) familiar Yorkshire phrases.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
Bold colour. Strong shapes. Abstract. Imaginative. I guess these things are the main consistent elements within my work. I’m still learning and developing, but these are the things I am attracted to within existing design and therefore what I naturally gravitate towards designing myself. I try and fill my life with as much colour and pattern as possible – it spreads happiness and brightens up dull days – so this is what I end up designing. Imagination plays a big role within my work and my designs often have a surreal, abstract quality. I love daydreaming, and the idea of a utopia or a dream, fantasy world excites me.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Paper collage and Screen-print. I love how both are analogue processes, as I’ve discovered that design can be very fast paced and, at times, overwhelming so it’s nice to slow things down a bit. These two processes also help me simplify my work, something I’ve learnt is good. I tend to overcomplicate designs, and find it hard to stop, which isn’t always a good thing. Designing through collage and Screen-print helps me to stick to a few key colours, and often bolder shapes are formed this way.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Spontaneous, natural – quite rushed actually. I never really plan where a project is going to go, so I normally just jump head first into designing, before collaging some ideas and seeing where that takes me – which has its positives and negatives. I’m quite an impatient person which results in me sometimes rushing projects, so I’m now making a conscious effort to slow down more, appreciate what’s around me and stop worrying/stressing about what the end product might look like. However, part of me has just come to accept that maybe this rushing is just a natural part of my style?
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I love the natural world, and gravitate towards organic shapes; I’m always looking for inspiration when out and about. Things which make me happy inspire my designs – bright colours, quirky, naturally occurring shapes and having FUN! I love things which are a bit silly or have fantastical qualities – I was at a festival this summer which had some crazy, unreal stage sets and decorations and you just felt like you were in a different world. I love Hockney, and also more interactive artists like Kusama and Adam Frezza/Terry Chiao – their work is so immersive and I love how dreamlike and fun it can be.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art plays a massive role in my life because I am constantly thinking about it. There is inspiration everywhere and anywhere, and so many opportunities for colour and pattern to be applied and explored. Anyone who knows me knows I get bored very easily, and I can be distracted by practically anything (it’s the subject of a lot of jokes). But art ALWAYS keeps me interested and ALWAYS keeps me engaged. When I’m working on something I can spend hours and hours thinking and creating. On the other hand, it’s also funny because it creates a lot of stress for me; I’ve realised that if I don’t like my work, I’m not a very happy person, which is evidence of how much it consumes my thoughts. I think there’s a lot of scary things in the world, but also a lot of huge, great, weird, fun, silly and wonderful things. Art makes me appreciate all the beauty of these things.
7. Where did you study?
I’m actually still in education – I study Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art. It’s such a fab, versatile degree, and Leeds is a great city.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well, ideally I’d like to work for myself and have a home full of all the weird and fun stuff I love, however, I’m not very good at working on my own – I get distracted too frequently. Hopefully, this will be something I’m better at in 5 years time! Maybe I’ll tackle this by getting involved in some collaborations, I think I’d love working with people. I like the conversation that surrounds our work within a studio environment. A lot of my friends are artists, I live with designers, my sister is an illustrator, my two other sisters are avid musicians – everyone talks about what they are currently doing, what they’ve seen, new project ideas etc… I think this conversation is important to keep inspired and motivated. I REALLY want to get involved in mural painting. I recently painted a design on a communication box in Leeds and would love to do something bigger. I’m trying to find a way to get involved in this so any help would be greatly appreciated!
9. What about in ten?
That’s a long way off – actually, half my life away to be exact! Eventually, I might like to teach, perhaps only part-time, but I just think it would be a cool thing to do. I loved learning, and I think it’s because I had a really inspiring art teacher at school who really cared. I would want to be like that.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
For me, this is probably the easiest question of them all to answer! I want to spread happiness, and I want to brighten up people’s days. And it’s great that in turn, creating the art makes me happy myself.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I’m a very nostalgic person, but it wasn’t until writing this that I realised how much this influences my answer! I love anything that reminds me of my childhood – really silly foods like jazzy’s, ice-lollies, wotsits, jelly etc. For my twentieth birthday party my housemates threw me a cocktail party where every drink was based around ice-lollies – which was a DREAM – but also I feel shows the severity of my ice-lolly addiction.
12. Favourite book?
I love Sylvia Plath. This may seem odd, as my work is very happy, but I’ve read all her journals and the Bell Jar is one of my all-time favourite books. Then again, completely on the contrary, I love really silly things – Theres a book called ‘Forwards, Always’ by MatthewtheHorse which is just full of nonsense poems and it really makes me laugh. Also, Jessie Cave’s book of doodles ‘Lovesick’ is another favourite as it’s just SO funny and ridiculous, but also SO realistic and frank. Her illustrations are super realistically harsh, and I think everyone can relate to that fear of failure and constant worry she illustrates. Another favourite is The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (I’m a huge Twin Peaks fan).
13. Favourite genre of music?
Music is a massive part of my life – I’ve played the violin since I was 4 years old and was heavily involved in that growing up. My sisters are all musicians, playing multiple instruments and this opened my eyes to many different genres of music, which I am very grateful for. I go to a lot of gigs/festivals of different genres, and I’m always discovering new stuff I like – e.g. at Glastonbury this year me and my friends discovered a previously unknown love for big brass bands – who would have thought?! I wouldn’t say I have a particularly favourite genre – my playlists contain a huge variety of everything and anything. Today I’m listening to a lot of Father John Misty.
14. What are your hobbies?
I like simplicity – seeing my friends and sisters. Playing and listening to music. Going to exhibitions. I go to a lot of gigs. I like to laugh, and to explore.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I would be a completely different person. I’m not really sure – I guess something to do with music, but I also loved English at school, so perhaps a combination of the two.