Emily is a freelance illustrator and character designer. Her work includes children’s books, editorial illustration and advertising. She also work on projects creating plush toys based on her character designs. At Upfest this year she will creating a piece she has entitled Rainbow Farts.
Bit of background and how you got into art.
I loved drawing, sculpting and making something out of nothing from primary school age and I’ve never been much good at anything else so I’ve always embraced it. I was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged it and I grew up in a household full of books, theatre, games and movies so I was naturally drawn to story telling.
I studied a degree in animation but it wasn’t really for me and I came out the other side with a lack of confidence and general confusion about what to do with myself so I got a ‘normal’ job but I kept making stuff on the side which lead to a small business making plush toys. I finally found my way back to painting, drawing and illustration when I took some time out of the real world about 7 years ago and moved back in with my parents. It enabled me to find my feet again and then I moved to Bristol. It’s taken me a long time to realise my ambition of working as a freelance illustrator and I’m still just starting out but I’m excited for a creative future.
In my freelance work I can be asked to produce all sorts of things but in my personal work I’ve developed a theme which stems from making plush toys. In sewing, shapes are somewhat restrictive but that actually helped in developing a range of characters around a basic circular ball shape. Every time I start with this shape it’s almost effortless for a new character to be born out of it. I create all sorts of creatures, usually animals both real and fantastical, all with the concept of making them as cute as possible and based on this one circular form.
Influences on your work
I’ve had many different influences but at the moment I’m most drawn to kawaii and the super cute. I love the designer toy scene and it’s full of cute but creepy characters. I like to combine the super cute with characters that are usually associated with horror such as a Zombie Horde, Nosferatu and King Kong. I like the juxtaposition of making something creepy and scary also ridiculously adorable.
I live near Stokes Croft in Bristol so I’m influenced by the street art all around me all the time and it’s since living here that I’ve gained enough confidence in my work to want to take the leap and paint big.
This is actually my first time painting a BIG piece that will be displayed publicly. I usually work in watercolour and digital and the biggest pieces I sell are A3 so this is both exciting and slightly terrifying.
I love bright bold colourful art and I like to think I’m cool so inevitably it was going to lead me to street art. It’s a bit of a dream to work on some large scale art myself, I’m really keen that this will lead to more big art in my future.
What have you been up to this year
I work as a freelance illustrator which means mostly taking commissions but I also sell my own illustrations and related work through Etsy.
What is important to you about your art?
I want to make both children and adults smile. I want them to forget about their troubles for a few minutes and enjoy the strange, colourful, stupidness that is what I produce. I think it’s really all about escapism and fantasy, I find myself escaping into it while I’m making it and I want that to happen to the people viewing it as well. It’s something to make you happy and forgetful.
Where people can find you at Upfest
I will be the one painting rainbows on a 4×8 foot board at Ashton Gate Stadium.
Can you tell me something about what you will be doing?
I’ll be painting a piece I’ve entitled Rainbow Farts, it’s a big acrylic and Posca pen version of one of my watercolour works. I chose this piece because it’s outrageously colourful and fun and everyone loves chubby, cute faced unicorns and rainbow colours. I like to bring the whimsey with me.
What are you looking forward to about Upfest?
I’m looking forward to the challenge, it’s bigger than anything I’ve done before so I’m going to get into the zone, get it done and enjoy the process. I’m also looking forward to meeting some like minded people and absorbing an atmosphere that will be full of paint fumes and creative activity.
See Emily’s work at Ashton Gate Stadium
Upfest Saturday 29, Sunday 30 Monday 31 July 2017